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The Crocodile, the Brahman, and the Fox

March 5, 2011 in Panchatantra

A crocodile beseeched a Brahman to carry it to Benares, so it could live in the Ganges. Touched with compassion, the Brahman put the crocodile into his bag and carried it to the holy river. However, just as he was about to release the crocodile into the water, the latter seized him, and was about to kill him. The Brahman accused his captor of ingratitude, who in turn replied that virtue and custom allowed one to eat the person who had sustained him. The Brahman insisted that three impartial judges should decide the case, and declared himself willing to abide by their decision.

They turned first to a mango tree, whom the Brahman asked if it were permitted to repay a good deed with evil. The mango tree replied that such was the treatment he and his kind always received from humans. “They partake of our fruits and of our shade, and then uproot us,” it said.

Next they turned to an old cow. She too said that humans had abandoned her after she was of no more use to them. Any moment she expected to fall prey to a wild animal.

They still needed a third judgment, and for this they turned to a fox. He too seemed inclined against the Brahman, but before finalizing his decision, he wanted to see how the two had journeyed together. To demonstrate, the unsuspecting crocodile crept back into the Brahman’s bag. Acting on a cue from the fox, the Braham struck the now helpless crocodile dead with a stone, and the fox ate it up.

THE END

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