Page 4 End.
Of the value of friends, as shown in the story of a hawk whose
nestlings were saved by the aid of an osprey, a lion, and a tortoise.
Pictured by: PongPang
Coloured by : Mint, PongPang
The Origin of the Story
The story of Jataka
Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, certain men of the marches used to make a settlement, wheresoever they could best find their food, dwelling in the forest and killing for meat for themselves and their families the game which abounded there. Not far from their village was a large natural lake and upon its southward shore lived a hawk, on the west a she-hawk; on the north a lion, king of the beasts; on the east an osprey, king of the birds; in the middle dwelt a tortoise on a small island.
The hawk asked the she-hawk to become his wife. She asked him, ‘Have you any friend?’ ‘No, madam,’ he replied. ‘We must have someone who can defend us against any danger or trouble that may arise and you must find some friends.’ ‘Whom shall I make friends with?’ ‘Why, with king osprey who lives on the eastern shore and with the lion on the North and with the tortoise who dwells in the middle of this lake.’ He took her advice and did so. Then the two lived together and it should be said that on a little islet in the same lake grew a Kadamba tree, surrounded by the water on all sides in a nest which they made. Afterwards there were given to them two sons.
One day, while the wings of the younglings were yet callow, some of the country folk went foraging through the woods all day and found nothing. Not wishing to return home empty-handed, they went down to the lake to catch a fish or a tortoise. They got on the island and lay down beneath the Kadamba tree and there being tormented by the bites of gnats and mosquitoes, to drive these away, they kindled a fire by rubbing sticks together and made a smoke. The smoke rising annoyed the birds and the young ones uttered a cry. ‘This is the cry of birds!’ said the country folk. ‘Up, make up the fire; we cannot lie here hungry but before we lie down we will have a meal of fowls’ flesh.’ They made the fire blaze and built it up.
But the mother bird hearing the sound, thought, ‘These men wish to eat our young ones. We made friends to save us from that danger. I will send my mate to the great osprey.’ Then she said, ‘Go, my husband, tell the osprey of the danger which threatens our young.’
The cock-bird flew at all speed to the place and gave a cry to announce his arrival. Leave given, he came near to the osprey and made his greeting. ‘Why have you come?’ asked the osprey.
Then he went on to ask, ‘Have the churls climbed up the tree, my friend?’ ‘They are not climbing yet; they are just piling wood on the fire.’ ‘Then you had better go quickly and comfort my friend your mate and say I am coming.’ He did so.
The osprey went also and from a place near to the Kadamba tree he watched for the men to climb, sitting upon a tree-top. Just as one of the boors who was climbing the tree had come near to the nest, the osprey dived into the lake and from wings and beak sprinkled water over the burning brands so that they were put out. Down came the men and made another fire to cook the bird and its young; when they climbed again, once more the osprey demolished the fire. So whenever a fire was made, the bird put it out and midnight came. The bird was much distressed; the skin under his stomach had become quite thin; his eyes were blood-shot. Seeing him, the hen-bird said to her mate, ‘My lord, the osprey is tired out; go and tell the tortoise that he may have a rest.’
Then the hawk said, ‘Rest awhile, friend osprey,’ and then away to the tortoise, whom he aroused. ‘What is your errand, friend?’ asked the tortoise —‘Such and such a danger has come upon us and the royal osprey has been laboring hard ever since the first watch and is very weary that is why I have come to you.’ With these words the tortoise sent the hawk away, adding, ‘Fear not, my friend, but go you before and I will come presently after.’ He dived into the water, collected some mud and went to the island, quenched the flame and lay still.
Then the countrymen cried, ‘Why should we trouble about the young hawks? Let us roll over this cursed tortoise and kill him! He will be enough for all.’ So they plucked some creepers and got some strings but when they had made them fast in this place or that and torn their clothes to strips for the purpose, they could not roll the tortoise over. The tortoise lugged them along with him and plunged in deep water. The men were so eager to get him that in they fell after; splashed about and scrambled out but with a belly-full of water. ‘Just look,’ said they ‘half the night one osprey kept putting out our fire and now this tortoise has made us fall into the water and swallow it to our great discomfort. Well, we will light another fire and at sunrise we will eat those young hawks.’ Then they began to make a fire.
The hen-bird heard the noise they were making and said, ‘My husband, sooner or later these men will devour our young and depart; you go and tell our friend the lion.’ At once he went to the lion who asked him why he came at such an unseasonable hour. The bird told him all from the beginning. The lion said ‘Yes, I will do this service, Hawk, for thee. Come, let us go and slay this gang of foes!’ When the churls perceived him approaching, they were frightened to death; ‘The osprey,’ they cried, ‘put out our fire-brands; the tortoise made us lose the clothes we had on but now we are done for. This lion will destroy us at once.’
They ran this way and that when the lion came to the foot of the tree, nothing could he see. Then the osprey, the hawk and the tortoise came up and accosted him. He told them the profitableness of friendship and said, ‘From this time forth be careful never to break the bonds of friendship.’ With this advice he departed and they also went each to his own place. The hen-hawk looking upon her young, thought —‘Ah, through friends have my young been given back to me!’ and as she rejoiced, she spoke to her mate.
O Hawk, good friends must needs be found:
See now by kindness we and ours each one are safe and sound.
The bird who wins a hero strong to play a friendly part,
As thou and I are happy, Hawk, is happy in his heart.
And all this company of friends lived all their lives long without breaking the bond of friendship and then passed away according to their deeds.