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The Lion Makers

18 Apr

(A tale from Panchatantra in India)


In a certain town were four Brahmans who lived in friendship. Three of them had reached the far shore of all scholarship, but lacked sense. The other found scholarship distasteful; he had nothing but sense. 

One day they met for consultation. “What is the use of attainments,” said they, “If one does not travel, win the favor of kings, and acquire money? Whatever we do, let us all travel.” 

But when they had gone a little way, the eldest of them said: “One of us, the fourth, is a dullard, having nothing but sense. Now nobody gains the favorable attention of kings by simple sense without scholarship. Therefore we will not share our earnings with him. Let him turn back and go home.”

Then the second said: “My intelligent friend, you lack scholarship. Please go home.” But the third said: “No, no. This is no way to behave. For we have played together since we were little boys. Come along, my noble friend. You shall have a share of the money we earn.’  

With this agreement they continued their journey, and in a forest they found the bones of a dead lion. Thereupon one of them said: “A good opportunity to test the ripeness of our scholarship. Here lies some kind of creature, dead. Let us bring it to life by means of the scholarship we have honestly won.” 

Then the first said: “I know how to assemble the skeleton.” The second said: “I can supply skin, flesh, and blood.” The third said: “I can give it life.” So the first assembled the skeleton, the second provided skin, flesh, and blood. But while the third was intent on giving the breath of life, the man of sense advised against it, remarking: “This is a lion. If you bring him to life, he will kill every one of us.”  

“You simpleton!” said the other, “it is not I who will reduce scholarship to a nullity.” “In that case,” came the reply, “wait a moment, while I climb this convenient tree.” 

When this had been done, the lion was brought to life, rose up, and killed all three. But the man of sense, after the lion had gone elsewhere, climbed down and went home.

And that is why I say: 

“Scholarship is less than sense; 
Therefore seek intelligence: 
Senseless scholars in their pride 
Made a lion; then they died.”

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Posted by on April 18, 2011 in Tale

 

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