Vaishampanaya narrates the tale of a remarkable brahmin and minister from Mahabharata whose valuable advice to Dhritarashtra went unheard
The story goes that the worried father and distressed King saw his dream of getting Duryodhana installed as king of Hastinapur fading as he found the Pandavas growing from strength to strength. Their superior skills were particularly evident after they defeated the powerful ruler of Panchal, King Drupada. Dhritrashtra grew suspicious of them and summoned his finest minister Kanika for his advice. Kanika an expert political counsel responded with an animal fable that is reminiscent of the tales from Panchtantra and Hitopadesa.
He addressed the king, “My majesty possessing the strength of thousand elephants, listen to me and do not be angry with me for saying what I am going to say.” A king’s business is to rule and to extend his might and influence; he should not make mistakes himself but profit from other’s mistakes. Rule with a vigilant eye and incapacitate your enemy with conciliation, money, discord and punishment.
Dhritrashtra asked “Tell me how conciliation works, how to employ money, how to create discord and how a punishment should be given”.
At this Kanika responded with a wily smile and told the story of a devious jackal and his four friends; a tiger, a wolf, a mouse and a mongoose. Once they spotted a splendid deer, the leader of herd who was much too swift for them. Jackal challenged the tiger saying that the deer was beyond his reach. Young and swift and too clever, he said the deer was for the tiger. So he said, send the mouse to nibble at the deer’s hooves when he is sleeping and then you can pounce on him. After which I suggest we have huge deer-feast”.
The mouse and tiger followed the advice. Jackal then slyly advised his friends to wash up before their meal. And off they all trooped to a river. The first to come back was tiger who saw jackal in deep thought and asked him what the matter was. Jackal said “Sir Tiger I am worried by what mouse said, he said “I killed the deer! This is actually my hunt isn’t it? His boasting got me worried and I can’t touch this food.
Tiger seemed thoughtful and said that jackal did make a good point. Henceforth he said he would eat what he had killed on his own and went away. Next came mouse, and jackal said “Little mouse do you know what mongoose said? “The tiger’s claws have polluted the deer flesh, catch me eating it, but give me the permission and I will gobble up the mouse”.
Alarmed mouse hurried away into his hole. Then came the wolf and jackal said, “Wolf do not ask me why but lord of the jungle (tiger) is furious with you and you are warned”.
The wolf fled like a flash of wind. Then came mongoose and jackal said, “Hey Mongoose, all of them have fled, a good thrashing is what I gave them, you want one too?” The poor mongoose retreated quietly saying that he was no match for a beast that had beaten the others black and blue. And so jackal had a scrumptious deer feast.
Kanika now said that a king would do well to learn from the jackal: exploit the fears of a timid enemy, conciliate the brave one, seduce the avaricious with wealth and subdue equal and inferior with power. Dharma, Artha and Kama should conjoin he said. The highest success comes when right time and place meet. The king should do nothing that he would repent later. “Act in such a way that you need no more fear the sons of Pandu, whatever measures you adopt do not repent them later”. Kanika’s advice however confounded the king who did not follow it at all.
Story collected by: Shweta Joshi Dixit.
Source: Myths and Legends of India, Volume 1 by William Radice.
Location : Pan India
Image Source : Wikipedia