Jataka Tales – The Fox And The Otter
A devoted fox and Three fretful Otter’s.
There lived a pair of male and female Fox in a forest. They loved each other very much. The male Fox loved the female Fox so much that he would fulfill every demand made by her. One day the female fox said,
Female Fox: Dear! I have a great urge for eating fish today.
Male Fox: That’s no problem. I shall bring fish for you, if you have an urge for it, dear.
Saying this he set out in search of fish.
While going towards the river, he began thinking
Male Fox: I have promised my wife to arrange fish for her, but I know nothing about fishing. How to fulfill my wife’s demand for fish?
Lost in these thoughts the Fox reached the bank of the river and sitting in a corner he began looking at the frolicking fish with greedy eyes. Seeing water all around in the big river, and the water current, frightened him. He got so scared to see the vast river. He began thinking of some possible means to get the fish without risking his life.
First Otter: I caught the fish first. Therefore I should get a larger part of it.
Second Otter: No, I should get a larger part because I helped you to pull it out.
First Otter: No, I caught it first.
Second Otter: No, I caught it first.
First Otter: No, I want the larger part.
Second Otter: No, I helped you to catch it, So I want the larger part.
Soon, both of them started quarreling. The cunning Fox thought(to himself): The foolish otters are quarreling over their catch. If I go and act as their judge, I will be able to get hold of the big fish.
So, he walked up to the otters and said,
Fox: Dear otters, What’s your problem?
First Otter: Not a big problem. Both of us have killed this big fish. Now the problem is how to decide our shares.
Fox: Look, if you want I can help you. I take pleasure in solving the problems of others. If you wish I can bring out an amicable solution to your dispute.
First Otter: All right! I have no objection, provided he too doesn’t have any objections.
Second otter: I too, have no objection.
Fox: That’s great! Both of you please wait for me here. I shall go and bring a knife from somewhere so that it becomes easy to cut the fish and decide your shares.
Otters: Yes, please go and bring a knife. We shall wait for you here.
The fox went into the forest searching for a knife and came back with one big knife happily. Both The otters saw him returning with a big knife happily.
Fox: Come friends, now I can help you solve your problem.
Saying this the fox cut the fish into three pieces. First, he cut the head off and then the tail.
Fox: And you caught the fish by the head. So you should get the head.
Fox: You caught the fish by the tail. So you should get the tail.
Both took their shares, and now they had their eyes fixed on the middle portion of the fish. Both were thinking that the fox would divide it also into two halves and give them their shares. But the fox took the third piece in his possession.
First otter: Friend, will you not divide the remaining piece?
Fox: This piece should not concern you, friend. This is for the job done by me. Will, you not pay me for the pains for going all the way to get a knife and decide your shares for you? The fruits of hard work should be shared by all. After all, I too am your friend.
Saying this the fox took the middle portion of the fish in his mouth and went away. Both the otters were left behind to see him go with the largest of the three pieces of the fish. And by the time they realized what had actually happened, it was too late.
First otter: Friend, how much better it would have been if we had decided our shares ourselves. Now see! He gave us the top and the bottom portions of the fish as our shares and went away with the largest piece in his mouth.
Second otter: I have heard someone say that a dispute between two friends always benefits the third one. Now let us take a lesson from this event that a marginal difference in our share would not bother us, and we shall never allow anyone to mediate between us.
So children what you learned from this? Never ever fight with your friend. As the second otter said, whenever there is a fight between two friends, the third one is always benefitted. So the moral of the story is Do not fight among yourselves.