Once upon a time in a far off forest lived a lion named Madotkata. He was served by a leopard, a jackal and a crow. One day they sightedKradanaka, a camel who lost his way. Camel is an unusual animal to be seen in the jungle and neither the loin nor his assistants had ever seen such an animal before. The lion asked his assistants to find out if camel was a wild animal or domestic animal.
The crow flew up to the camel to enquire. Came back and told, “The camel is a domestic animal. He is fit to be killed and eaten”. Refusing to eat the camel, the lion said:
“I shall not kill someone who came seeking hospitality. According to our elders, you cannot kill even an enemy who came trusting you. He who kills so commits the sin of killing hundred Brahmins. Assure him of safety and bring him to me.”
The 3 assistants brought the camel to the lion. On the lion asking the camel to relate his story, camel told him how he was part of a trade caravan and how he had lost his way. The lion asked the camel, “Stay with us and enjoy on this tender grass of the forest. Why do you go back to your village and once again become a beast Of burden?”. Thereafter, the camel stayed on to live happily with the lion and his three assistants.
One day, the lion had a fierce fight with an elephant. The loin was badly injured and he was too weak to hunt. Without food he was in no position to do anything. The lion asked his assistants to go out and look for food for him. “Bring the animal here. I will kill him somehow and provide food for you all,” said the lion.
The leopard, the jackal, and the crow looked everywhere for an animal but could not find anyone. The jackal said to the crow:
“Friend, we are not able to find any animal and we are just waiting our time. Let’s kill and eat the camel today”. The crow said, “we cannot kill the camel because our lord has assured protection to him”.
“Leave it to me. I shall convince the lord to kill the camel. Wait here. I will meet the lord and get his permission,” said the jackal and left to meet the lion.
The jackal told the loin, “Oh, lord, we searched the forest though but we could not find a single animal today. We are tired, weak and hungry. Since my lord is also in the same condition, I humbly suggest that we make a meal of this camel.”
Highly annoyed, the lion said,”You sinner, if you ever think of killing the camel again, I will kill you first. I have given him my word. I cannot kill him. Our Elders have said regardless of once life one has to serve upto his promise.”
“You are right my lord. It is a sin to kill him who has your word. Suppose if the camel voluntarily offers himself as food then it is no sin to accept the offer. If he does not volunteer, you can kill anyone of us. You are hungry and close to your end. If we are not of use to you at this time what value have our lives?”
“This seems to be more reasonable,” said the lion.
The jackal told the other 2 assistants about his plan.
Then the jackal pleaded, “Friends, our lord is in a poor condition. There is now no one to protect us from others. Instead of aimlessly searching the forest for food, let us offer our bodies to him. That will deliver us from the burden of debt. The servant who is witness to the helpless death of his master will go to hell.”
After the jackal’s plea, all of the lion assistants and the camel when to lion with tears in eyes. “What’s the matter? Did you find an animal?” asked the lion.
“No, my lord. We searched every place, every inch of the forest. We are not lucky. We found nothing. I request the lord to kill me and make his meal. That will mean two birds with one shot. The lord will survive and I will go to heaven.”, said the crow.
It was now the turn of the jackal to show his loyalty. He said, “My friend, crow. Your body is too small to slake the hunger of my lord. Lord should kill me and make his meal.”
The leopard intervened and said, “You jackal, you are no great personality. Oh lord, let me give away my life to save your life. Please permit me to earn a permanent berth in heaven. My sacrifice will win fame for me on earth.”
All this set camel thinking, “All these servants of the lord have said what they wanted to say. Still, the lion did not kill anyone of them. Let me also offer my body to be the lord’s food today. He will not kill me either”.
He then turned up said, “What you have said is right and proper. But you are a carnivorous animal and belong to the same species as the master does. How can he kill you? Let me offer myself.”
The camel requested the loin to have him for that day’s meal. At once, the jackal and the leopard pounced on him tore him to pieces and all of them had a sumptuous feast.