Tale of The Golden Droppings
On a big tree in the lap of a mountain lived a bird named Sindhuka. His droppings used to turn into gold as soon as they hit the ground. One day, a hunter came to the tree in search of prey and saw Sindhuka’s droppings hit the ground and turn into gold.
The hunter, struck by wonder, thought, “I have been hunting birds and small animals since I was a boy. I am now eighty years old. I have never seen in my life this kind of miracle.”
He decided to get the bird some how and set a noose for him. Not aware of the trap, the bird stayed on the branch merrily singing. Soon, the noose tightened and the hunter caught the bird and pushed him into his cage.
The hunter took it home and considered, “If the king comes to know of this wonder, he will certainly take away the bird from me. Instead, I will go to the king and present the unique bird to him.”
The hunter took the bird the following day to the king and presented it to him with great reverence. The king was extremely happy and told his men to keep the bird in safe custody and feed him with the best bird food. But his minister was reluctant to accept the bird.
He said, “O Rajah, There is no use in trusting the word of this hunter and accepting the bird. Has anyone seen a bird dropping gold? Therefore, I request you to release the bird from the cage.”
The king ordered the bird to be set free. As soon as the door of the cage opened, the bird perched himself on a nearby doorway and defecated. The dropping immediately turned into gold. Sindhuka then recited that line about fools, “First, I was a fool. Then the hunter and then the king and his ministers.”
Raktaksha continued, “That’s why I tell you that we are all fools in sparing the life of this minister of the crows, Sthirajeevi.” Despite Raktaksha’s warnings, the owls continued to look after Sthirajeevi with great devotion. The crow minister became strong and powerful. Giving up all hopes of reforming his king and ministers, Raktaksha called his close colleagues and told them,
“Friends, our king and his men are beyond reform. We have given whatever advice a minister has to give. We shall now leave this dangerous place and pitch our tents elsewhere. The elders have said, “He prospers who anticipates danger and escapes it. He who does not destroys himself.” I have been living in this jungle for so long, I have become old. Yet, in all my life I have never heard a cave speaking like a human being.”
“What, a cave speaking like a human being! Surprising. We have never heard of it. Please tell us all about it,” asked his followers.
Raktaksha then told them the following story.
Deep in the rain forest lived a lion named Kharanakara. One day, he was very hungry and looked for a prey in every nook and corner of the forest. There was no animal, big or small, as far as he could see. As he was wandering in search of food he found a big cave and thought, “There must be some animal living here. If so, it is bound to return to the cave in the evening. I will hide myself in the cave and when the animal returns, pounce on him and have a good meal.”
Then as sun began to set, Dadhiputcha, a jackal, came to the cave that was his home and saw the footprints of the lion entering the cave. There were, however, no traces of footprints to show that the lion had left. Scared, the jackal wanted to make sure that it was a lion or some big animal that went into the cave. But how should he know? He hit upon a brilliant idea.
The jackal went near the cave and began shouting, “Hello cave, I am your friend here.” There was no reply from the cave. He did not know what to do. He again shouted, “Hello cave, don’t you remember the arrangement we made? I have to shout when I arrive at the cave and you will ask me to come in. Without your green signal I do not enter the cave. Since you are silent, I will go to some other cave.”
The lion heard the jackal speaking and thought, “Ah, there seems to be an arrangement between the cave and this animal. Let me get him into my trap. I will shout back a welcome to him and he will walk in happily.”
The lion then roared, “Hi jackal, come in. You are welcome.”
The jackal at once knew it was a lion inside the cave and hurriedly fled the place, remembering the lines of the learned,
“He survives who anticipates a danger and acts to avert it, He who does not comes to grief.”
Raktaksha said, “That is how we must also anticipate danger and act. Let us leave now before it is too late.”
Listening to his advice, his ministers and others followed him to a far off place.
Seeing that the main obstacle in his way has disappeared and that the remaining king’s men were all stupid, Sthirajeevi began piling up twigs on the pretext of building a nest. He heaped them at the entrance of the cave in which the king and other owls lived. When the pile was big enough, he waited for daybreak when the owls would become blind. Then he flew off to Meghavarna and told him that before word could reach the enemy camp of this plan, he and his followers should accompany him (Sthirajeevi) each carrying a piece of burning wood.
Accordingly, Meghavarna and his men followed Sthirajeevi, each carrying a burning twig in his beak. When they reached the entrance of the cave, which was now blocked by the pile of twigs Sthirajeevi built, they threw the burning twigs on the pile, which began to burn fiercely killing all the owls trapped inside.
When Megahvarna and his men returned to their kingdom, he asked Sthirajeevi to tell him how he could plan to kill the enemy.
Sthirajeevi said, “It was not an easy job living in the enemy camp. Luckily, except Raktaksha, every one of Arimardana’s ministers was a fool. Yet it was like walking on the edge of a sword. But if you want to achieve your goal you will have to put up with all inconvenience and discomfort like the snake which carried the frogs on its back.”