The Snake Mandyavishya was growing old. With no strength and speed to catch his prey, he would go hungry for days. One day, while searching for some form of sustenance, he saw a pond full of frogs. Mandyavishya’s mouth watered at the thought of frogs for dinner and he hatched a plan.
He made his way stealthily to the edge of the pond and quietly lay there without making any move to hunt the frogs. As the frogs saw the snake, they swam away. But when they realised that the snake was not interested in them, they let their guard down. One curious little frog decided to find out what the problem was. Inching little close to the banks where the serpent lay, he asked “O snake, it is your nature to kill frogs and eat. But you seem to be least interested. What is the matter? Why are you lying so quietly on the banks of this pond?”
The snake replied “My dear one, I am that unfortunate snake, who has been cursed by a Brahmin. I bit a Brahmin’s son in frustration. So the Brahmin cursed me saying that to redeem myself I would have to serve frogs and live off their generosity. So I am waiting here to serve any frog who wants my services.”
And what kind of services you can offer?” asked the little frog. “You can sit on my back and I can ferry you across the pond.” replied Mandyavishya. All the frogs reported the sad story of the snake on the banks of their pond back to their king, who arrived with his ministers to meet the snake. Being a noble king, he offered to take the first ride on the snake’s back.
Mandyavishya was very glad to serve the king and soon the two became good friends. One day as Mandyavishya was ferrying the king he voiced his worries about his waning strength. “I can no longer catch prey like before,” he said. “Can I eat a frog from your pond to keep myself alive? This way I can serve you for a long period of time” The king took pity and agreed to his request thinking the serpent is a dear and trustworthy friend.
Soon thereafter frogs began to disappear from the pond. Many were eaten by Mandyavishya, while others hopped away to another pond to save their lives. And soon the pond was devoid of frogs. One day as Mandyavishya was carrying the king on his back, he told the frog, “Oh king, I am so hungry and there are no more frogs left in the pond. I am sorry, but I will have to eat you today”.
By the time Frog King realised the true nature of the his friend, it was too late.
Story Collected by : Vidya Kamat
Story Told by : Sitabai Pai Panandiker
Text Source: Panchatantra
Location: Pan India
Image copyright: Wikimedia Commons