As some of you have reminded me that Panchatantra tales, like the ones I shared with you here and there, are by far not the only Indian fables, I’ve decided to do some searching. Found a great source and here be the first fable:
The Fish and the Rain
The water in a lake was fast drying up. The fish were all alarmed. A meeting of the animals in the lake was held. The crocodile, as the most powerful among them, took the chair. The tortoise made a long speech, and concluded by saying: “Therefore it is, I do not care whether it is land or water. It is the same to me; I can live in either.”The crab made another long speech, and, in the end, observed: “No less with me, brethren. Should the lake dry up I will go to the neighbouring fields and live in the holes.” The snails, the leeches, the water-snakes, and various other animals, gave some excuse or other to keep away from praying for rain.
The crocodile summed up, saying: “I care not where I live. On land I find better food than in water, for you must all admit that a hare, or rabbit, or some other land animal of the kind, is much better fare than fish or frogs.” At this there was loud applause, and the meeting came to an end.
But the poor fish, who could not live out of water for one moment, thought it their duty, however, to pray; so they did.
Very soon the sky was overcast, the clouds poured, and the lake was full. All the animals rejoiced at it. The fish, with heartfelt pride and pleasure, observed:
“Heaven blesseth the many for the few!”
Text source: Indian Fables. Collected and edited by P. V. Ramaswami Raju. With 18 plates by F. Carruthers Gould. London 1901.
Image source: fresco of a flying fish from the bronze age excavation of Phylakopi on Milos
First impression: Really, really different from those Panchatantra tales.
Second impression: Or maybe not. Because the moral still confuses me. It must be a case of cultural mistranslation because well, I expected something to make all those non-carers realise that there is more to life than seeing only yourself. Huh.