How a Sparrow Came to Grief (Panchatantra - Part I)
A pair of sparrows made their home on a branch of a big tree and lived happily there.Soon it was winter and it began to rain heavily. Frequent gusts of wind made the cold unbearable. At this time, a monkey completely drenched in the rain and shivering from cold, came scurrying to the tree for cover. Seeing the condition of the monkey, the female sparrow said, “Gentleman, with your feet and hands you seem to be a human being. Why didn't you build a house for yourself?' Angered by this uncalled for advice, the monkey said, “you stupid, why do not you shut up and mind your business?' The monkey told himself, “My, what impudence! This bit of a creature has the cheek to offer me advice. Makes fun of me. Unnecessary prattle. I must teach her a lesson. Why shouldn't I kill her?”
Turning to the female, the monkey said, “How does it help you to worry about my plight? Haven't you heard this saying of the elders that you should offer advice to those who seek it and cherish it? Advice to him who is indifferent is like a cry in the wilderness. Don't try to do that.” When the female persisted, the monkey climbed up the tree and broke up the nest of the sparrow pair.
“That's why,” said Karataka to Damanaka, “you should be careful in offering advice. You are a fool who does not understand the essence of my advice. That is not your mistake. Fools ignore advice and wise men follow it and benefit by it. It is clear that you haven't heard the story of Dharmabuddhi and his son Papabuddhi, the story of how the father was killed by smoke due to the son's thoughtlessness.” “Why don't you tell me that story,” asked Damanaka.
In a city in the north, lived two friends named Dharmabuddhi and Papabuddhi. One day, Papa thought, “I am a man without worldly wisdom and added to that I am also poor. Let me persuade Dharma to take me to far off lands and earn lots of money through his business skills. Later I will deprive him of all his wealth and live happily ever after.”
With these plans on his mind, Papa told Dharma, “My friend, you are growing old and cannot manage your business. Unless you go out into the wide world how can you tell your children about the wonders of the world? Elders have said that he is born in vain who does not see the countries in the world, learn several languages and know the dress styles of other people. You cannot earn wealth and knowledge without wide travel.”
Dharma liked this advice and taking the blessings of his teachers set out on overseas travel, taking Papa with him. Both of them earned a lot of money abroad due to the business talent of Dharma. It was time for them to return home because it is natural for people who go abroad in search of wealth and learning to think of home when they have achieved both. As they were entering their native place, Papa told Dharma, “It is not safe to take home all this wealth because relatives and friends in need will seek help if they know about our riches. We shall bury most of our money in some secret place in this forest. Whenever we need money, we can come here and take whatever we need. You know that money tempts even saints.”
Dharma agreed to Papa's plan and went home after both of them dug a pit and covered it after burying most of their earnings in it. One midnight Papa went to the secret place in the forest and stole all the money and brought it home. Next morning, he went to Dharma and suggested that they should go to the forest because he was in need of money. When both of them arrived at the secret spot in the forest and dug there, they found the pit empty. At once Papa began shouting loudly, “Dharma, you stole the money and nobody else. The pit was carefully covered. You must give me half of what we have buried here.' Though Dharma denied it, Papa insisted that they should take the dispute to a court of law.
When the case came before the court, the judge asked them to take oath in the name of God. But Papa quoted experts as saying that relevant documents should be produced first as proof, then witnesses would be summoned to give evidence and oath in the name of God is taken when neither documents nor witnesses are available. "I can produce the gods of the forest as witnesses. They will determine who is guilty and who is innocent,” said Papa. Impressed by this plan, the judges asked both the parties to be present next morning at the forest for a hearing. Happy at the judges' order, Papa went home and told his father, “Father, I have stolen all Dharma's money. There is a case in the court that I can win only with your help. Otherwise, my life will be in danger.” “What have I to do to get that money, son,” asked his father.
“There is a big tree there. You have to go now and hide in the hollow of that tree. Tomorrow morning when the judges and others assemble there, I will ask you to tell the truth. Then it is your turn to declare that Dharma is the thief,” said the son. The father left at once for the forest to hide in the hollow of the tree. The morning of the next day, the son took a bath and went to the tree taking Dharma and the judges with him. Papa went near the tree and shouted, “O sun, moon, air, fire, earth, water, the God of Death, day and night, you are all witnesses to the history of humanity. O Goddess of the Forest, declare who among us is guilty.”
The father shouted back from inside the hollow of the tree, “Listen all of you, it is Dharma who stole the money.” The judges and the king's men heard the verdict and sat down to decide what punishment they should give Dharma. Meanwhile, Dharma filled the hollow with rags and hay, poured oil on them and threw a matchstick into it. The fire forced the half-burnt father to come out of the tree. “All this is the work of Papa's evil mind,” said the father and soon collapsed and died. The king's men at once bound Papa hand and foot and hung him to a tree. They said, “Our elders have always said that wise men should not only be resourceful but also know the consequences of being resourceful. You have the story of how a mongoose killed all the offspring of the crane before his own eyes.” When Dharma asked them to tell the story, the king's men began relating the story.