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This is one more interesting story from the Hitopadesha Tales. Once upon a time, there lived a Lion by the name of Madotkata in a forest. Among his followers, a Jackal, a Crow and a Wolf had developed friendship with him. However, all the three had a selfish motive behind this so-called friendship. They knew that the Lion was the King of the forest and friendship with such fierce creature would always help them. To meet their selfish ends, they started obeying and were always available at the service of the Lion.
They didn’t have to make any efforts to search for their food, as the Lion used to give his leftover meals to them. Moreover, they became powerful as they were next to the King of the forest. So like this, all the three selfish friends were passing their days happily being the friends of the Lion. One day, a Camel, who came from some distant land, lost his way and entered the same forest where these friends lived. He tried his best to find out the way, but could not make it.
In the meantime, these three friends happened to pass through the same way where the Camel was wandering. When they saw the Camel, at once it came to their mind that he didn’t belong to their forest. The Jackal suggested to his other two friends, “Let’s kill and eat him”. The Wolf replied, “It is a big animal. We could not kill him like this. I think, first we should inform our King about this Camel”. The Crow agreed upon the idea given by the Wolf. After deciding, all of them went to meet the Lion.
On reaching the Lion’s den, the Jackal approached the Lion and said, “Your Majesty, an unknown Camel has dared to enter your kingdom without your consent. His body is full of flesh and he could make a nice meal for us. Let’s kill him”. The Lion roared loudly on hearing this and said, “What are you saying? The Camel has come for refuge in my kingdom. It is unethical to kill him like this. We should provide him the best shelter. Go and bring him to me”. All of them got dispirited to hear such words from the King.
They unwillingly went to the Camel and told him about the desire of the Lion, who wanted to meet him. The Camel was scared to know about the strange offer. He thought that his last moment had come and in a little while he would become the meal of the Lion. As he couldn’t even escape, so he decided to meet the Lion and left everything on the destiny. The selfish friends escorted the Camel to the Lion’s den. The Lion was happy to see the Camel. He welcomed him warmly and assured him of all the safety in the forest during his stay.
The Camel was totally amazed to hear the Lion’s words. He got very happy and started living with the Jackal, the Crow and the Wolf. One day, when the Lion was hunting for food, he had a struggle with a mighty Elephant. The Lion got badly injured in the struggle and became incapable of hunting for his food. Stricken by bad luck, the Lion had to sustain without food for days. Due to this, his friends too had to go hungry for days as they totally depended on the Lion’s kill for their food. But the Camel was satisfied grazing around in the forest.
All the three friends got worried and discussed the matter among them. On reaching a conclusion, they approached the Lion and said, “Your Majesty, you are getting weak day by day. We can’t see you in this wretched condition. Why don’t you kill the Camel and eat him?” The Lion roared, “No. How can you think such thing? He is our guest and we should not kill him. Don’t give such suggestions to me in future”. As the jackal, the crow and the wolf had set their evil eyes on the camel; they met once again and devised a plan to kill the Camel.
They went to the Camel and said, “Dear Friend, you know our King has not eaten anything from the past many days. He is unable to go for hunting due to his wounds and sickness. Under such circumstances, it becomes our duty to sacrifice ourselves to save the life of our king. Come with us, we will offer our bodies to make his food”. The Camel didn’t understand their plan, but innocently he nodded in favor of their plan. All of them approached the den of the Lion.
First of all, the Crow came forward and said, “Your Majesty, we didn’t succeed in getting any food for you. I can’t see you like this. Please eat me and make me obliged”. The Lion replied, “Dear, I will prefer to die than to perform such a sinful deed”. Then, the Jackal came forward and said, “Your Majesty, Crow’s body is too small to satisfy your appetite. I offer myself to you, as it is my duty to save your life”. The Lion politely rejected the offer. As per the plan, now it was the turn of the Wolf to offer himself to the King.
So, the Wolf came forward and said, “Your Majesty, Jackal is quite small to gratify your hunger. I offer myself for this kind job. Please kill me and satisfy your hunger”. After saying this, he lay prostrate before the Lion. But the Lion didn’t kill any of them. The Camel, who was watching the whole scene felt reassured of his safety and also decided to go forward and complete the formality. He marched forward and said, “Your Majesty, why don’t you kill me. You are my friend. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Please allow me to offer you my body”.
The Lion found the offer quite appropriate, as the Camel himself had offered his body for food, his ethics were maintained. The Lion attacked the Camel at once, ripped open his body and tore him into pieces. The Lion and his friends ate the delicious flesh to their fill. They feasted on the poor Camel for days together.
Moral: Beware of Mean Friends.