1) The Monkey and the Crocodile
Once upon a time, a clever monkey lived in a tree that bore juicy, red rose apples. He was very happy.
One fine day, a crocodile swam up to that tree and told the monkey that he had travelled a long distance and was in search of food as he was very hungry. The kind monkey offered him a few rose apples. The crocodile enjoyed them very much and asked the monkey whether he could come again for some more fruit. The generous monkey happily agreed.
The crocodile returned the next day. And the next. And the next one after that. Soon the two became very good friends. They discussed their lives, their friends and family, like all friends do. The crocodile told the monkey that he had a wife and that they lived on the other side of the river. So the kind monkey offered him some extra rose apples to take home to his wife. The crocodile’s wife loved the rose apples and made her husband promise to get her some every day.
Meanwhile, the friendship between the monkey and the crocodile deepened as they spent more and more time together. The crocodile’s wife started getting jealous. She wanted to put an end to this friendship. So she pretended that she could not believe that her husband could be friends with a monkey. Her husband tried to convince her that he and the monkey shared a true friendship. The crocodile’s wife thought to herself that if the monkey lived on a diet of rose monkeys, his flesh would be very sweet. So she asked the crocodile to invite the monkey to their house.
The crocodile was not happy about this. He tried to make the excuse that it would be difficult to get the monkey across the river. But his wife was determined to eat the monkey’s flesh. So she thought of a plan.
One day, she pretended to be very ill and told the crocodile that the doctor said that she would only recover if she ate a monkey’s heart. If her husband wanted to save her life, he must bring her his friend’s heart.
The crocodile was aghast. He was in a dilemma. On the one hand, he loved his friend. On the other, he could not possibly let his wife die. The crocodile’s wife threatened him saying that if he did not get her the monkey’s heart, she would surely die.
So the crocodile went to the rose apple tree and invited the monkey to come home to meet his wife. He told the monkey that he could ride across the river on the crocodile’s back. The monkey happily agreed. As they reached the middle of the river, the crocodile began to sink. The frightened monkey asked him why he was doing that. The crocodile explained that he would have to kill the monkey to save his wife’s life. The clever monkey told him that he would gladly give up his heart to save the life of the crocodile’s wife, but he had left his heart behind in the rose apple tree. He asked the crocodile to make haste and turn back so that the monkey could go get his heart from the apple tree.
The silly crocodile quickly swam back to the rose apple tree. The monkey scampered up the tree to safety. He told the crocodile to tell his wicked wife that she had married the biggest fool in the world.
1) The Big Lion and the Little Rabbit
Once upon a time, there lived a big lion in a jungle. Every day he hunted and killed many animals to satisfy his hunger. The animals were worried that one day none of them would be left alive. They all decided to go to the lion and find a solution to this problem.
When the lion saw all the animals approaching, he was very happy as he thought that he would not have to take the trouble to hunt. He could just kill all the animals together once and for all.
One of the animals stopped him and pleaded that he listen to what they had to say first. He went on to explain that as the lion was king of the jungle, and all the other animals were his subjects, the lion would not be a king at all if he killed all his subjects. He would have no one left to rule over. He suggested that if the lion stayed home, one animal would surrender itself each day as food for the lion. The lion agreed to this offer on the condition that if they ever failed to send him an animal, he would go on a killing spree and finish all of them off.
From then on, each day an animal was sent to the lion and the lion was pleased.
One day it was the turn of a little rabbit to sacrifice his life to provide food for the lion. This little one did not want to be the lion’s meal. He thought of a plan that would save his life as well as the lives of all the other animals in the jungle.
The rabbit slowly made his way to the lion’s den. The lion was pacing up and down, extremely hungry. He was furious when all he saw was a little rabbit. He wanted to kill all the animals in a rage. The rabbit timidly explained that the animals had actually sent him six rabbits, but five of them were killed and devoured by another lion.
The lion roared in anger. He wanted to know who this other lion was who dared to steal his food. The rabbit stuttered that it was a very big lion. He had warned the other lion not to eat him as his king would be very angry and definitely come to fight him. The rabbit went on to say that that the other lion had called His Majesty an impostor and had challenged him to prove who was actually the king of the jungle. The lion was furious. He asked the rabbit to take him to the other lion as he wanted to kill him.
The little rabbit led the lion to a well and told him that the other lion was in there. The lion peered into the well and saw his own reflection. He thought it was the other lion. He let out a huge roar which echoed back at him. He immediately jumped into the well to attack what he thought was the other lion. The lion dashed his head against the rocks and drowned.
The jubilant little rabbit returned to other animals to spread the good news.
2) The Stork and the Crab
Once upon a time, there was a stork who caught the fish in a particular tank. The stork always had a full meal. As the years went by, the stork grew older and weaker. His ability to catch fish diminished. At times he would even starve. He knew he had to do something to survive.
One day he stood by the side of the tank with a very forlorn look on his face. The frogs, fish and crabs wondered why he was not trying to catch any food. A big crab asked him what the matter was. The stork answered that he was sad because all the fish in the tank were going to die and he would have to starve. He said that he had heard that people were going to fill the tank with mud and grow crops over it. The fish were very worried and asked the stork to help them.
The stork offered to take all of them to a bigger tank some distance away. But he said that he needed to rest between trips because of his age. He would only be able to carry a few fish at a time.
The stork took a beakful of fish on his first trip. He flew to a big rock and had a good meal. He rested awhile, and when he was hungry again, he took a second trip. In this manner, he took a trip each time that he was hungry.
The big crab in the tank also wanted to save himself and he requested the stork to take him too. The stork thought it was a good idea to try a new dish. He agreed to take the crab on his next trip.
After the stork flew up with him, the crab looked down to see what his new surrounding would be like. All he could see was dry land. He questioned the stork about this. The stork laughed wickedly and pointed to the rock below where the crab saw a heap of fish bones. The crab realized that he was to be the stork’s next meal. So the crab dug his claws into the stork’s neck and would not let go till the stork fell to the ground. The crab then cut off the stork’s head and returned home to show it to all the other fish and share the story of his adventure.
3) The Crows and the Black Snake
Once upon a time a family of crows lived in a huge banyan tree. There was a Father Crow, a Mother Crow, and many baby crows.
One day a huge snake came to live in the hole at the bottom of the tree. The crows were unhappy about this, but could do nothing.
Soon Mother Crow hatched a few more eggs and some more baby crows were born. When the crows flew out in search of food, the snake ate up the babies. When the crows returned, they could not find their babies. They hunted high and low, but to no avail.
After a few months, Mother Crow gave birth to some more baby crows. This time Mother Crow stayed home when Father Crow went out in search of food. Ignoring the fact that Mother Crow was keeping a watchful eye on her babies, the snake still slithered up the tree and attacked the babies. Mother Crow tried to fight the snake off, but she was not strong enough. Other crows came to her aid, but the snake had already eaten the little ones and crawled back into its hole.
When Father Crow returned, he found all the crows weeping. He consoled his wife who wanted to leave the tree house immediately. Father Crow said that this tree had been their home for many years and they must live here. He thought of asking a wise old fox for help in order to get rid of the snake.
The old fox came up with a brilliant plan. He told them to go to the river bank the next morning where the ladies of the royal family would be bathing. Their clothes and valuables would be kept on the river bank while the servants would be watching over them from a distance.
The fox asked the crows to pick up a necklace and while away making a raucous noise. This would make the servants chase them to the tree where the crows would drop the necklace into the snake’s hole.
So the next morning when the crows flew to the river bank, Mother Crow picked up a pearl necklace and flew off as Father Crow cawed loudly to attract the servants’ attention. The servants ran after Mother Crow and reached the banyan tree where they saw her drop the necklace into the snake hole. As the servants were trying to take the necklace out with the help of a long stick, the snake came out of the hole and hissed at them menacingly. The servants beat the snake to death. And so Mother and Father Crow lived happily ever after in the banyan tree.
5) The Musical Donkey
Once upon a time, there was an old thin donkey that worked for a washerman by day. At night he was free to wander as he liked.
One night, he made friends with a jackal and they both went out in search of food. They found a garden filled with cucumbers and helped themselves to a delicious meal. After that they returned every night to the garden to eat cucumbers. And so the donkey started looking healthy and fat.
One night, after a particularly tasty meal, the donkey was overwhelmed with happiness. So happy was he, that he told the jackal he wanted to sing a song. The jackal immediately told him not to do any such thing! He warned the donkey that they were thieves so it was not a good idea to make noise and attract the farmer’s attention. If they were caught, they would be beaten.
But the donkey insisted on singing. The jackal told him that his voice was not sweet. The donkey was upset and thought that the jackal was jealous of him. The jackal warned that donkey again that if he did sing, the farmers would come and reward him in a way that he would not like.
But the donkey started singing, and the jackal decided to wait outside the garden. When the farmers heard the donkey braying, they rushed out to beat him. The donkey fell down and the farmers tied a heavy stone around his neck.
Somehow the donkey dragged himself out to the waiting jackal. The jackal congratulated him on his reward. The donkey realised his mistake and apologised to the jackal for not listening to good advice.
6) The Tortoise and the Geese
Once upon a time, there was a tortoise who lived in a tank. He made friends with two geese who used to come and visit him at the tank. They were happy for many years.
Then there was a drought that lasted for months. The tanks and rivers started drying up under the burning sun. The people and animals were starving and the birds were migrating to more fertile lands. The two geese decided to save themselves and go away. So they came to say a sad goodbye to their friend the tortoise.
The poor tortoise could not believe that they could leave him behind to die. The geese wondered how they could save their friend too. The problem was that they did not know how to take him along because the tortoise could not fly. The tortoise came up with an idea. He told the geese to get him a stick that he could hold between his teeth. The geese could then take him to a more fertile land flying slowly while holding the two ends of the stick.
But the geese were worried that if the tortoise opened his mouth by mistake to speak, he would lose his grip on the stick and would fall down and die. So the tortoise promised not to open his mouth.
The geese flew off carrying the tortoise with them. They flew higher and higher, over hills, valleys, fields and plains. Finally, they flew over a city. The people of the city were amazed to see such a strange sight. They clapped their hands and commented how wonderful it was too see the geese carrying the tortoise like that. The people’s shouting and clapping annoyed the tortoise. He wondered aloud why these foolish people were making such a racket. But as soon as he opened his mouth to speak, he lost his grip on the stick and fell to the ground. And so the poor tortoise was killed all because of his foolishness and intolerance.
7) The Ass Has No Brains
Once upon a time, there lived an old lion who was, of course, the king of the jungle. However, he was old and he could not hunt for food. With each passing day he grew weaker and weaker. He realized that he needed an assistant to bring him his food, else he would surely die.
He thought that a fox would be the best person to hire in this situation. He summoned the fox and offered him the post of Minister because he was so clever. The fox did not trust the lion, but he could not refuse the king. He agreed and the lion was pleased.
The old lion told the fox that as he was the king of the jungle, he should not have to hunt for his food. Therefore, the fox’s first duty as Minister was to bring him an animal to eat every day.
The fox went out to find an animal and came across a fat ass. He told the ass that the king of the jungle had invited the ass to act as his Chief Minister and had been searching for him for days. But the ass was scared of the lion and told the fox that he was not fit to be Chief Minister. The fox flattered the ass, praising the fact that he was so wise and hardworking. And so he convinced the ass to go along with him.
When they reached the lion’s den, the poor ass’s nerve failed him again and he refused to move forward. The fox informed the lion that his new Chief Minister was feeling shy. So the lion himself came forward. The poor ass ran for his life. The lion was very angry. The fox told him to be patient and leave it to him. The fox went back to the ass and told him that if the lion had wanted to kill him, he could easily have done so before. He said that the lion had approached him to share some secret that he did not want the fox to hear. He tempted the ass telling him that he would be very powerful as the lion’s second in command. In this way, the fox managed to entice the ass to go back to the lion.
The lion welcomed them graciously. As the ass drew nearer, the lion pounced on him and killed him. He then thanked the fox. As the lion sat down to eat, the fox suggested that the lion take a bath before his meal. The lion thought it was a good idea and went off to have a bath. He instructed the fox to watch over the carcass of the ass.
The fox obediently sat down to keep watch. But the fox was hungry and his mouth watered as he looked at the ass just waiting to be eaten. He thought to himself that since he had taken all the trouble to bring the ass to the lion, he was entitled to the best portion of the meal. So he ate the ass’s brain.
When the lion returned, he felt that there was something amiss. The fox reminded him that he had given the ass a powerful blow on his head. Satisfied with this explanation, the lion settled down to his meal. He soon realized that the ass had no brain. He questioned the fox about this. The fox replied that if the ass had had a brain, he would never have returned with the fox to meet the lion.
8) The Girl Who Married a Snake
Once upon a time, there lived a Brahmin and his wife who had no children. They prayed to God every day in the hope that they would be blessed with a child.
One fine day, the Brahmin’s wife did give birth to a baby, but it was a snake! All the villagers, their friends and relatives advised them to get rid of the baby snake. But the Brahmin’s wife did not care that her baby was a snake. She loved it all the same and refused to get rid of it.
She reared the baby snake with tender loving care and gave him the best of things. After many years had passed, the Brahmin’s wife decided that it was time to get her baby married. But which girl would marry a snake?
One day, when the Brahmin returned home, he found his wife sobbing. She refused to tell him the reason, but just continued weeping. Finally she told him that she was crying because she realized that he did not love his son because he was not even thinking of his son’s marriage.
The Brahmin was shocked. He asked her which person in his right mind would agree to marry his daughter to a snake. But seeing his wife crying ceaselessly, he was forced to go out in search of a bride for his son.
He traveled far and wide, but with no success. Finally, he arrived in a big city where his best friend lived. The Brahmin decided to pay him a visit. They were both thrilled to see each other after such a long time. His friend asked him what brought him so far from home. The Brahmin replied that he was searching for a bride for his son. His friend told him to look no further and immediately promised his daughter’s hand in marriage. The Brahmin told him to first take a look at his son. His friend refused saying that as he knew the family, it was not necessary. So he sent his beautiful daughter with the Brahmin.
The Brahmin’s wife was thrilled and immediately started making preparations for the wedding. Everyone advised the girl not to marry the snake, but she insisted that she must keep her father’s word.
And so the girl and the snake were married. After marriage, the girl was the epitome of a devoted wife. She looked after the snake well. The snake slept in his box at night.
Then, one night, when the girl was going to sleep, she found a handsome young man in the room. She was scared and was about to run for help. The young man stopped her saying that he was her husband. Of course, she did not believe him. So he proved it by getting back into the snake skin. She was so happy that she fell at his feet. After that, every night the young man would shed the snakeskin and spend time with his bride. At daybreak, he would slip back into the snakeskin.
One night, the Brahmin heard noises in his daughter-in-law’s room. So he kept a watch and saw the snake turning into a handsome young man. He rushed into the room and threw the snakeskin in to the fire. His son thanked him profusely saying that he was freed from a curse that forced him to stay in the snakeskin until someone destroyed it without his asking.
And so the handsome young man and his beautiful bride lived happily ever after.
9) The Mice That Ate Iron
Once upon a time, there was a rich merchant called Naduk. But times were bad and his business was suffering. He decided to leave the city and find his fortune in a new place. He sold off all his possessions and paid off his debts. All that he had left was a heavy iron beam. Naduk went to say goodbye to his friend Lakshman, and requested him to keep the beam for him till he returned. Lakshman promised to look after it for him.
For many years, Naduk traveled far and wide, building his fortune. Luck was with him, for he became rich once again. He returned home and bought a new house and started his business again. He went to visit his friend Lakshman who greeted him warmly. After a while, Naduk asked him to return his beam. Lakshman knew that the beam would fetch him good money so he was loath to return it. So he told Naduk that he had kept his beam in the store-room and the mice ate it.
Naduk did not seem to mind. He asked Lakshman to send his son home with him so that he could hand over a gift that he had bought for him. So Lakshman sent his son Ramu with Naduk.
Naduk locked up Ramu in a cellar in his house. By nightfall, Lakshamn was worried and came to ask about the whereabouts of his son. Naduk replied that on the way to his house, a hawk swooped down and carried the boy off. Lakshman accused Naduk of lying. He insisted that a hawk could not carry off a fifteen-year-old boy.
A big fight ensued and the matter was taken to court. When the magistrate heard Lakshman’s side of the story, he ordered Naduk to return the boy to his father. But Naduk insisted that a hawk carried off the boy. The magistrate asked him how it was possible. He replied,that if a huge iron beam can be eaten by mice, then a boy could definitely be carried off by a hawk.
Naduk related the whole story. Everyone in the courtroom burst out laughing. The magistrate then ordered Lakshman to return the iron beam to Naduk and that Naduk return Lakshman’s son to him.
10) Unity is Strength
Once upon a time, there was a flock of doves that flew in search of food led by their king. One day, they had flown a long distance and were very tired. The dove king encouraged them to fly a little further. The smallest dove picked up speed and found some rice scattered beneath a banyan tree. So all the doves landed and began to eat.
Suddenly a net fell over them and they were all trapped. They saw a hunter approaching carrying a huge club. The doves desperately fluttered their wings trying to get out, but to no avail.
The king had an idea. He advised all the doves to fly up together carrying the net with them. He said that there was strength in unity.
Each dove picked up a portion of the net and together they flew off carrying the net with them. The hunter looked up in astonishment. He tried to follow them, but they were flying high over hills and valleys. They flew to a hill near a city of temples where there lived a mouse who could help them. He was a faithful friend of the dove king.
When the mouse heard the loud noise of their approach, he went into hiding. The dove king gently called out to him and then the mouse was happy to see him. The dove king explained that they had been caught in a trap and needed the mouse’s help to gnaw at the net with his teeth and set them free.
The mouse agreed saying that he would set the king free first. The king insisted that he first free his subjects and the king last. The mouse understood the king’s feelings and compled with his wishes. He began to cut the net and one by one all the doves were freed including the dove king.
They all thanked the mouse and flew away together, united in their strength.