Site Map
Jataka Tales, Old Indian Fables
Section › 49   Set    Search  Previous Next

Reservations   Contents    

  1. The Quarrel of the Quails
  2. The Partridge and the Crow
  3. Why the Owl Is Not King of the Birds
  4. Blind Men Describing an Elephant

The Quarrel Of The Quails

Once quails lived together in a forest. The wisest of them all was their leader.

A man lived near the forest and earned his living by catching quails and selling them. Day after day he listened to the note of the leader calling the quails. By and by this man, the fowler, was able to call the quails together. Hearing the note the quails thought it was their leader who called.

When they were crowded together, the fowler threw his net over them and off he went into the town, where he soon sold all the quails that he had caught.

The wise leader saw the plan of the fowler for catching the quails. He called the birds to him and said, "This fowler is carrying away so many of us, we must put a stop to it. I have thought of a plan; it is this: The next time the fowler throws a net over you, each of you must put your head through one of the little holes in the net. Then all of you together must fly away to the nearest thorn-bush. You can leave the net on the thorn-bush and be free yourselves."

The quails said that was a very good plan and they would try it the next time the fowler threw the net over them.

The very next day the fowler carne and called them together. Then he threw the net over them. The quails lifted the net and flew away with it to the nearest thorn-bush where they left it. They flew back to their leader to tell him how well his plan had worked.

The fowler was busy till evening getting his net off the thorns and he went home empty-handed. The next day the same thing happened, and the next. His wife was angry because he did not bring home any money, but the fowler said, "The fact is those quails are working together now. The moment my net is over them, off they fly with it, leaving it on a thorn-bush. As soon as the quails begin to quarrel I shall be able to catch them."

Not long after this, one of the quails in alighting on their feeding ground, trod by accident on another's head. "Who trod on my head?" angrily cried the second. "I did; but I did n't mean to. Don't be angry," said the first quail, but the second quail was angry and said mean things.

Soon all the quails had taken sides in this quarrel. When the fowler came that day he flung his net over them, and this time instead of flying off with it, one side said, "Now, you lift the net," and the other side said, "Lift it yourself."

"You try to make us lift it all," said the quails on one side. "No, we don't!" said the others, "you begin and we will help," but neither side began.

So the quails quarreled, and while they were quarreling the fowler caught them all in his net. He took them to town and sold them for a good price.

The Partridge and the Crow

A crow flying across a road saw a partridge strutting along the ground.

"What a beautiful gait that partridge has!" said the crow. "I must try to see if I can walk like him."

She alighted behind the partridge and tried for a long time to learn to strut. At last the partridge turned around and asked the crow what she was about.

"Don't be angry with me," replied the crow. "I have never before seen a bird who walks as beautifully as you can, and I'm trying to learn to walk like you."

"Foolish bird!" responded the partridge. "You are a crow, and should walk like a crow. You would look silly indeed if you were to strut like a partridge."

But the crow went on trying to learn to strut, till finally she had forgotten her own gait, and she never learned that of the partridge.

Why The Owl Is Not King Of The Birds

Why is it that crows torment the owls as they sleep in the daytime? For the same reason that the Owls try to kill the crows while they sleep at night.

Listen to a tale of long ago and then you will see why.

Once on a time, the people who lived together when the world was young took a certain man for their king. The four-footed animals also took one of their number for their king. The fish in the ocean chose a king to rule over them. Then the birds gathered together on a great flat rock, crying:

"Among men there is a king, and among the beasts, and the fish have one, too; but we birds have none. We ought to have a king. Let us choose one now."

And so the birds talked the matter over and at last they all said, "Let us have the owl for our king."

No, not all, for one old crow rose up and said, "For my part, I don't want the owl to be our king. Look at him now while you are all crying that you want him for your king. See how sour he looks right now. If that's the cross look he wears when he is happy, how will he look when he is angry? I, for one, want no such sour-looking king!"

Then the crow flew up into the air crying, "I don't like it! I don't like it!" The owl rose and followed him. From that time on the crows and the owls have been enemies. The birds chose a turtle dove to be their king, and then flew to their homes.

Blind Men Describing an Elephant

Some blind men came near an animal that someone told them was an elephant. They were asked what the animal was like. The blind men began to feel its body. One of them said the elephant was like a pillar; he had touched only its leg. Another said it was like a winnowing-fan; he had touched its ear. In this way the others having touched its trunk, tail or belly, gave their different versions of the elephant. [Adapted from Ramakrishna]

One-sidedness blinds too.


Indian fables, Jataka tales, birth tales, Literature  

Indian fables, Jataka tales, birth tales, To top Section Set Next

Indian fables, Jataka tales, birth tales. USER'S GUIDE: [Link]
© 1998–2017, Tormod Kinnes, MPhil. [Email]  ᴥ  Disclaimer: [Link]