Panchatantra – The Monkey & The Wedge


This story told in rhyme is a continuation of the first book of the Panchatantra, which as we know, consists of five books – Mitra-bhed: The Loss of Friends; Mitra-lābha or Mitra-samprāpti: The Gaining of Friends; Kākolūkīyam: War and Peace; Labdhapraṇāśam: Loss Of Gains; Aparīkṣitakārakaṃ: Ill-Considered Action / Rash deeds. The Monkey & The Wedge is the second of the stories contained within “Mitra-Bhed”.

The Monkey & The Wedge

So Dama-nak-a heard from Kara-tak

The story of the monkey and the wedge

How a merchant once began to build up

A temple of wood at his garden’s edge

The carpenters all went for lunch one day

And some monkeys came to frolic and play

One monkey saw a big split log of wood

And in its middle a little wedge stood

The nosy monkey fiddled with the wedge

When it popped out, the split caught both his legs

‘Oooh’ said the monkey and loudly he cried

He twisted this way and that and hard he tried

But no matter what, it was of no use

They were stuck and he couldn’t get them loose

He twisted this way and that and hard he tried

But no matter what, the poor monkey died.

“So,” Kara-tak said to Dama-nak-a

“I really believe it will not be wise

“To poke our noses into such matters

“In the King’s esteem we surely won’t rise.”

“And,” added Kara-tak, “why should we care

We have our food stores and enough to spare.”

But Dama-nak-a, he wasn’t so sure

“Food’s not the centre of our lives, there’s more…

“There are a hundred ways of getting food

What matters in life is that we do good

If living is somehow the only goal

The crows get pickings and so does the mole.”

“True, we are not ministers any more,”

Said Kara-tak, who still wasn’t so sure

“But the elders have always said advice

“Unasked for, will always pay the full price

“Of insults and deceits, taunts and abuse

“I honestly don’t think it’s any use!”

But Dama-nak-a said, “anyone who

Serves the king, serves all the gods too.”

“Okay, so what do you want to do now?”

Asked Kara-tak, as he hung on a bough

“I’ll meet the king and ask him what scares him.”

“To do some good, I’ll go and serve him.”

“For the principles of service I will go”

Said Dama-nak-a all those years ago.

He went to the king on his knees to pay

His respects and honour the king that day

King Ping-a-lak-a greeted him warmly

“What do you have on your mind,” said he

Dama-nak-a to the king said humbly

“Why did you leave the lake so suddenly?”

“O Dama-nak-a,” the king replied low

“Did you hear from the forest, that mighty roar?”

“Your majesty is it only the sound

That makes your heart in fear rebound?”

“There’s many a sound, that is misleading

Like in the story of the old jackal

How a loud sound set his heart a bleeding

And yet it was nothing to fear at all.”

“Let us hear it,” said king Ping-a-lak-a

As he sat with his head upon his paws

With a harrumph, then did Dama-nak-a

Proceed on his story without a pause.

And so my friends, if you watch this space

Sooner or later right here I’ll place

Another story that is soon to come

The story of The Jackal and the Drum


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