“The Tiger, the Brahman, and the Jackal”

Today’s folk tale comes from India, but once again we see a large, strong animal simply outwitted by another.

A tiger is trapped in a cave. A Brahman comes by and the tiger begs and pleads to be let out. The Brahman eventually releases him after the tiger promises not to eat him. Of course once the tiger is loose, his story changes.

“What a fool you are! What is to prevent my eating you now, for after being cooped up so long I am just terribly hungry!”

The tiger finally agrees to allow the Brahman to tell the story to three things and the tiger will abide by what the three things say. The Brahman asks a tree, a buffalo and the road, but all three agree that the Brahman should expect nothing from the tiger, that it is reasonable for the tiger to eat him.

Finally, the Brahman talks to a jackal, who pretends not to understand the story. He has the Brahman take him back to the cage where the tiger is waiting. He still pretends he can’t figure out what happens, even when the tiger explains it to him. Finally the tiger shows him what happened, stepping back into the cage.

At this the tiger lost patience, and, jumping into the cage, cried, “This way! Now do you understand how it was?”

“Perfectly! ” grinned the jackal, as he dexterously shut the door, “and if you will permit me to say so, I think matters will remain as they were!”

So, there you have it. Smarts and cunning win again, not power and might. I will say that I think the Brahman, though kind, was stupid from the beginning. Of course the tiger would eat him. Why should he have expected anything else, really? A tiger is a tiger.

Tif, from Tif Talks Books, is the hostess of this great feature, Fairy Tale Fridays. Head over there to see what she has to say and to share your own thoughts. Next week, we’ll be looking at a tale from Korea.

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