Growing up, reading folk stories used to be my favorite pastime. I would grab as many folk tale books my hands would allow me and sit down on the ground, leaning my back against my little bookshelf. With the book perched on my knees, I would immerse myself in the world of folktales from all over the world. Some of my favorite used to be “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” and “Jaringobee” a Korean folktale.
As a tribute to this passion for folk stories, here’s one called “The Foolish Lion and the Clever Rabbit,” hailing all the way from India.
Once upon a time, there lived a cruel lion by the name of Bhasuraka, in a dense forest. He was very powerful, ferocious and arrogant. He used to kill the animals of the forest to gratify his hunger. The fierce appetite of the lion began to worry the animals of the forest. They worried that after sometime, none of the animals would be left alive. They discussed this problem among themselves and came upon the decision to hold a meeting with the lion. They wanted to arrive on a friendly settlement with the lion and put an end to the problem.
To carry out the plan, all the animals of the forest gathered under a big tree. They invited the King Lion to attend the meeting. In the meeting, the squirrel, the representative of the animals said,” Your Majesty, it is our happiness, that we have you as our king. We are all the more happy that you are attending this meeting”. The King lion thanked them and replied, “What is the matter? Why have we gathered here?”
All the animals started looking at each other. They were recollecting enough courage to start the topic. One of the animals stood up and said, “Sir, it’s natural that you have to kill us to become your food. But, killing more than what is required is not wise. If you go on killing the animals without any purpose, very soon a day will come, when there will be no animal left in the forest.” The king lion roared, “So what do you want?”
One of the animals replied, “Your Majesty, we have already discussed the problem among ourselves and have come upon a solution. We have decided to send one animal daily to your den. You can kill and eat it, the way you like. This will also save you from the trouble of hunting.” The lion replied, “Fine. I agree to this proposal, but make sure that the animal reaches me in time, otherwise, I’ll kill all of you.” The animals agreed to this proposal.
From that day onwards, an animal was sent every day to the lion as a sacrifice. The lion was very happy to have his food right before him without having to go through the trouble of hunting.
One day, it was the rabbit’s turn to go to the lion’s den. This rabbit was old and wise. He didn’t want to go, but the other animals forced him to go. Reluctant to give in to the lion, the rabbit came up with a plan that could save his life and possibly the lives of other animals in the forest. As part of his scheme, he arrived at the lion’s den a little later than when the animals were usually expected.
By the time the rabbit arrived, the lion was furious that his food wasn’t on time. On top of the rabbit’s tardy, the Lion got even more furious when he saw that a such a small and old rabbit was his meal for the day. The lion was so enraged that he threatened to kill all the animals.
The old rabbit crossed his arms and replied with leisure, “Your Majesty. I am not to be blamed for that. Actually, six rabbits were sent to make your meal, but five of them were killed and devoured by another lion. He also claimed to be the king of the forest. I’ve somehow escaped to reach here safely.”
The king lion growled in great anger and yelled, “Impossible! there cannot be another king of this forest. Tell me. Who is he? I’ll kill him. Take me to the place, where you saw him.”
The intelligent cunningly smiled and led the Lion towards a deep well, filled with water. When they reached the well, the rabbit said, “Well, this is the place where he lives. He might be hiding inside.”
The Lion looked into the well. Mistaking his own reflection as the other lion, he became furious and started growling. In the eyes of the lion, the other Lion was equally angry when in fact, it was only his own image. When he ran out of patience, he finally jumped into the well to kill the other Lion. The Lion darted his head against the hard wall of the well and drowned deep into the well.
The wise rabbit, with a sigh of relief went back to the other animals and told them the entire story. Rejoicing at the death of the brutal lion, all the animals praised the rabbit for his wit. Thus, the jubilant rabbit saved all the animals from the foolishly proud Lion and they all lived happily ever after.
*edited by staff of GOAL. Translated by culturealindia.net