Shishu Sansaar | Stories-Panchtantra
109-Know Your Limitations
Once there lived a lion in a forest with his wife. The lady lion had just delivered two cubs and was recovering to her normal wont gradually. The doting husband rummaged the forest to get hold of the choicest prey for the nursing mother of his children. One day, in spite of all his attempts, he could not find any animals suitable to satisfy his stomach. Ultimately while returning home he saw a newborn baby fox, which had unfortunately lost his mother. Even the lion did not have the heart to eat such a small child, but he knew his nursing wife was starving and so he took the tiny fox softly between his lips and presented it to his lady love - "Darling, I could not find anything for food today except this miserable creature. I could not bring myself to the thought of eating this. However I brought it for you."
The lioness said - "You say you could not eat this child. Look my love, I am the mother of two sons. How can I eat such a little fellow. I am overcome by pity and even love for this boy. Let him grow with my own two boys. I will nurse him treating him as my eldest son.
Thus the fox grew up with the young lions. The two younger ones were always told that the fox was their elder brother and in their adolescence, they had no reason to disbelieve their mother. Even otherwise all living beings have implicit faith in their mothers perhaps excepting the human beings.
One day it so happened that a rowdy elephant in rut crossed the path of the three brothers while they were just wandering in the forest. For the lions the elephant was a natural adversary and their instinct was always to match strength with him. But by the same instinct, the fox was always afraid of the elephant. When the lion cubs were readying themselves to jump at the forehead of the elephant, the fox warned them - "My beloved brothers, the elephant is a very dangerous animal. Please do not try to fight with him." Seeing the reluctance and timidity of the elder brother the youngsters lost interest in the fight and withdrew.
But the elder brother's view was a jarring note for them. When they came back to their mother, they were laughing at the timidity of the elder brother fox - "Mom, see how timid our elder brother is? We wanted a nice fight with the elephant but our brother developed cold feet. It was disappointing."
When the fox heard this, he was angry and the anger was visible in his arched eyebrows and the series of bad words he uttered against the lion cubs. The mother lioness called the fox aside and said - "Darling, You should not rave like this. Are these two your younger brothers not yours?"
The fox retorted - "In what way am I inferior to them? Have I not the beauty? Have I not the knowledge? Have I not the courage? Have I not the beautiful tail?" The lioness laughed within herself. She knew that if the poor fox took cudgels against the young lions, the encounter would be fatal for the fox. Her motherly love wanted to prevent such a tragedy.
She told the fox candidly - "Son, you are attractive. You have knowledge. But you are the son of a fox. I had just adopted you. But people of your clan can never muster enough courage to kill an elephant. My own children are too young. So they have not yet understood that you are only a fox. Once they realize that even God cannot guarantee your life. So take the advice of this mother and run away from here and join animals of your own clan. I am telling you because, I feel so much love for you because you have also grown up consuming my own milk.
The realization dawned quickly on the fox. He simply sneaked out of the scene and joined his own clan.
You should understand your limitations before others find them and use them to your detriment.
Created by Sushma Gupta on August 9, 2007
Modified on 05/06/13