The Lion and the Bullock
Once upon a time, there lived a merchant.
One day, he loaded his goods in his bullock-car, and accompanied by his servants, he left for Mathura. On his way, he had to cross a forest. As they reached the banks of a river, a bulock’s leg got stuck in the mud. Tho bullock fell down an broke his leg.
The merchant loved the bullock very much. So he decided to stop there. But a servant said to him, “This forest is full of wild animals. For the sake of one bullock, it is not right to put everyone’s life in danger.”
The merchant asked two of his servants to stay behind with the bullock to look after him. He then proceeded on his journey. The two servants were too scared to stay behind in the forest. So they left the bullock there and hurried to catch up with the merchant. They lied to the merchant saying, “The bullock is dead. We have come here after burying him.”
But the bullock had a long life to live. Now he could eat the fresh, soft green grass growing on the banks of the river. After a few days, the bullock regained his health and became strong and plump-just like Lord Shiva’s Nandi. He enjoyed his life on the banks of the river. He would strike his horns against the rocks and spend his time playing and bellowing loudly.
A lion lived in that forest. He was the king of the forest. One day, he was going to the river to drink water. Suddenly; he heard the bull’s deafening bellow. The lion was frightened. The king of the forest ran and hid himself behind a tree!
A fox saw the frightened lion hiding behind the tree. He would follow the lion wherever he went, with the hope that the lion would appoint him as his minister. But when he saw that the lion was frightened, he thought, “This is a good opportunity. I must find out why the thirsty lion returned without drinking water from the river.”
The fox went to the lion and bowed to him.
The lion raised his paws to bless and then said, “Welcome. You are my old minister’s son. Tell me, what brings you here?”
The fox said, “Your Majesty! I do not want anything from you. I have come here only to assure myself about your well-being. But today, you look worried. Is anything bothering you? Are you i trouble?”
Suddenly, they heard the bullock’s ear-splitting bellow.
The lion said, “Did you hear that thunderous cry? Can imagine how strong this animal must be? If this animal is stronger than I am, I do not wish to live in the forest.”
The fox said, “If you leave the forest and go away, what will happen to us? If you permit me, I will go and find out everything about this animal with a thunderous cry.”
The lion gave his permission.
When the fox saw that the animal with the thunderous cry was only a harmless bullock, he was excited.
The fox went to the lion and said, “Your Majesty! I have found out everything about that animal with a thunderous cry. It is a very strong animal. But if you allow me, I will make him your humble servant.”
The lion readily agreed. “In that case, I will make you my minister,” he said happily.
The fox was only waiting for this opportunity. He went to the bullock. “Hey you bullock!” said the fox boastfully. “Why do you bellow so often? You are disturbing the lion’s peaceful sleep. He is very angry with you and wants to see you at once.”
The bullock shuddered with fright. He said to the fox, “You are a clever animal. Do what you must, but please request the lion to grant me the promise of safety.”
The fox said, “Wait here. When the time comes, I will take you to the king.”
The fox then went to the lion and said, “Your Majesty! This is ordinary animal. He is Lord Shiva’s Nandi himself.”
The lion was even more frightened. The fox said, “I told him that the lion is the king of the forest and that he was the king’s guest and so he should dine and enjoy the king.”
The lion was pleased. “Well done, fox,” he said. “But please request him to grant me the promise of safety and bring him here with due honour.”
Thus, the lion and the bullock became friends. The lion appointed the fox as his minister. Now the fox got a share of the lion’s prey.
As the days passed, the lion and the bullock became good friends. Living with the bullock, the lion began to eat whatever the bullock ate. Soon he stopped killing animals and eating them up. And so, the fox also stopped getting his share of the lion’s food. “I will starve to death because of the friendship between the lion and the bullock,” thought the fox.
“Now I must think of a way to break their friendship. Tomorrow I will eat this bullock’s flesh.”
After thinking for some time, the fox went to the lion and said, “Your Majesty! I have to tell you a secret. I know you will not believe it.”
“What is that?” asked the lion.
“The bullock told me that he knew how strong you are,” said the fox. “He also told me that he would kill you tomorrow and declare himself the king of the forest.”
The lion said, “I don’t believe you. Do you have any proof?”
The fox said, “If he is planning to kill you and become the king, he does not deserve the promise of safety. If you do not kill him, he will surely kill you.”
The fox then went to the bullock and said, “Somebody is poisoning the lion’s mind against you. The lion is very angry with you. He has told me that tomorrow morning, he will kill you. How can a strong animal like the lion be a bullock’s friend? Friend, I have come to warn you.”
The bullock was frightened. He was so anxious that he could not sleep that night. He thought, “If the lion is angry with me, I will try to appease him and make him happy. Besides, the fox already warned me not to sit near the lion. I will try to read the has expressions on his face. If it becomes necessary, I will run away to save my life.”
The next morning, the bullock went to the lion. He was so frightened that he did not have the courage to sit near the lion. His lips were quivering with fright. Since he had not slept all night, his eyes were red.
When the lion looked at the bullock, he remembered the fox’s words. “The fox was telling me the truth,” he thought. “As he had told me, the bullock is sitting at a distance. He is burning with rage and his eyes are bloodshot. Before he makes his next move, let me attack him.”
At once the lion pounced on the bullock. The bullock did not get any time to run away. He had to struggle and fight against the mighty lion to save his own life.
After a long fight, the bullock fell down dead.