The Cunning Mediator
A sparrow was living in the hollow of a big tree that I(crow) had made my home. His name was Kapinjala. We became good friends and used to spend our time discussing characters in our literature and the unusual things we saw in our travels. One day, my friend left the tree with other sparrows in search of food and did not return even after nightfall. I began to worry. “What happened to him? Did any hunter take him away? He
never leaves my company even for a while.”
Days passed without any trace of my friend Kapinjala. One fine morning, a hare named Sighragha, came and silently occupied the hollow that my friend made his home. It did not worry me because there was no word about Kapinjala and I had lost all hopes of his return. But one day, he returned looking healthier than he was when he had left and found that the hare had taken his place.
Kapinjala told the hare, “O hare, what you have done is improper. You have displaced me. Leave the place immediately.”
Sighragha hit back saying, “What are you talking? This is my place. Haven’t you heard the elders saying that nobody has rights over a public well, a temple, a pond and a tree? Whoever enjoys land for more than ten years also becomes its owner. That needs no evidence or documents of proof. This place is not yours anymore.”
The sparrow told him, “Oh, you are quoting legal scriptures! Let us go to an expert in law and ethics. We will abide by his ruling.”
The hare agreed to this proposal and both of them went in search of an expert. Curious to see what would happen, I also followed them. Meanwhile, word about their quarrel had reached a wicked and wild cat.
Knowing the route that the hare and the sparrow would take, the cat set up a camp on the way. He spread a mat of grass on the ground and went into a posture of meditation. Facing the sun and raising his hands in worship, the cat began reciting scriptures,
“This world has no essence. Life is passing. All liaisons with lovers are like a dream. Your ties with the family are illusory. There is no alternative to following the right path. The learned have said,”
“This wretched body will soon perish Material wealth is not permanent Death is knocking at your door Free thyself from earthly chains He who abandons the right path
Is the same as the living dead?”
“I will end this long discourse and tell you in a nutshell what the right path is. Doing good to others is virtue.
Tormenting others is vice. This is the essence of our philosophy. I am in the service of God and have given up all desires. I will not do you any harm. After hearing your account, I will decide who among you is the rightful owner of the place in the tree. But I am now very old and cannot hear you properly. So, please come close to me and narrate your story.”
When the poor and innocent sparrow and hare came within the reach of the cat, he pounced on them and grabbed the sparrow in his teeth and slashed the body of the hare with his jaws and killed them.