Hitopadesha: The story of the Vulture, the Cat and the Birds
Here’s another great story from the Hitopadesha. Once upon a time there was an old and blind vulture named Taradgava. He lived in the hollow of a tree near the bank of the river. Some other birds also used to live on that tree. ......
Here’s another great story from the Hitopadesha. Once upon a time there was an old and blind vulture named Taradgava. He lived in the hollow of a tree near the bank of the river. Some other birds also used to live on that tree. They had a soft corner for Taradgava and brought food for him as well. In return for the birds’ kindness, Taradgava looked after their fledglings when they went out to gather food.
One day a cat happened to pass that way. He heard the chirping of the young birds and tip toed near the tree in the hope of catching one or two. The fledglings sensed danger and started crying out loud. Taradgava, who was guarding the nests, screeched loudly and asked the cat, “Who goes there? Identify yourself! ”
The cat thought that now the vulture would now rip him apart but soon realized that he was blind. He immediately thought of a clever plan and said, “O wise one, I am a cat. It is indeed an honour to meet a mighty bird like you.”
“A cat? You are not wanted here! Go away before I kill you,” said the vulture.
“Please do not say so, dear sir! I have heard many tales about your wisdom and wit from the animals of the jungle. Hence, I have come from a long way to see you. Please accept me as your disciple and give me shelter.”
Taradgava was immensely pleased on hearing the flattering comments of the cat, still he said, “O cat! I thank you for your generous words, but your presence spells danger for the young birds. The hunter and the hunted cannot live at one place. So, please leave!”
The cat further tried to convince the vulture by saying, “O Wise One! These lovely little fledglings have nothing to fear. I am a vegetarian and have taken a vow not to touch meat.”
Taradgava believed the cat and permitted him to stay in the hollow of the tree with him. For a few days the cat kept singing the praises of the old vulture and took great care of the fledglings. Soon Taradgava developed great faith in the cat. Now the cat started to show his true colours. When the birds were out hunting, the cat used to climb up the tree, eat a fledgling and hide the left over bones in Taradgava’s hollow. The poor blind vulture was clueless about the cat’s evil designs.
It soon came to the notice of the birds that the number of their young ones was decreasing mysteriously. They started to investigate the matter. When the cat saw that the birds had been alarmed, he slyly left the place. The birds soon discovered a heap of bones and feathers in the hollow of the tree trunk where Taradgava lived. They jumped to the conclusion that the old vulture must have eaten their young ones. In great anger, they attacked the old bird and killed him. That was the end of gullible Taradgava.
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