Monday, May 11, 2015

A cat story--from the Mahabharata

Cats don't figure much in India's literature--when they do, the stories about them are often not complimentary. Here is one ancient story--within the text, it was narrated by Duryodhana, who compared Yudhishthira to this cat!

A Pious Cat: A Story from the Mahabharata


Once a cat went to he banks of the river Ganga, and pretended to be an ascetic, engaged in worshipping god. He always had his hands upraised, as devotees do. Gradually the birds came to trust him, and worshipped him. The cat continued with his austerities. Finally even the mice began to believe in him, and came to him asking him to be their protector. The cat agreed, and said he would stay with them as their protector. But as he was very weak from fasting and praying, they should carry him to the river bank every day, so that he could continue his worship.
The mice were quite happy, the cat stayed with them, and a few of them carried him every day to the river bank. Out of sight of the others the cat began to eat them up, and became fat and sleek. The mice realised that something strange was going on. One mouse named Dindika asked the other mice to collect at the river bank. He would come there along with the cat and they would have a showdown. But when the cat reached there, Dindika was not to be seen. Of course, Cat had eaten him on the way!
A few more days passed, and then a very old mouse named Kilika addressed the mice. He said: ‘Our uncle {i.,e., the cat} is not really desirous of earning virtue. He has, like a hypocrite, become our friend, when in reality, he is our enemy. Indeed, the excreta of a creature that lives on fruits and roots, never contains hair or fur, as his does. Then again, while he is growing fat, the numbers of our mice are diminishing. Besides, Dindika has not been seen for the last eight days.’
The mice understood the import of what he said, and they all ran way. The cat got nothing more to eat there, and returned to where he had come from.