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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Vishnu Sharma (Pilpay) (c. 1000 B.C.?)

A Lion Tricked by a Rabbit

From “The Friendly Instructor” (Hitopadesa), translated by Charles Wilkins

He who hath sense hath strength. Where hath he strength who wanteth judgment? See how a lion, when intoxicated with anger, was overcome by a rabbit.

UPON the mountain Mandara there lived a lion, whose name was Durganta [hard to go near], who was very exact in complying with the ordinance for animal sacrifices. So at length all the different species assembled, and in a body represented that, as by his present mode of proceeding the forest would be cleared all at once, if it pleased his Highness, they would each of them in his turn provide him an animal for his daily food. And the lion gave his consent accordingly. Thus every beast delivered his stipulated provision, till at length, it coming to the rabbit’s turn, he began to meditate in this manner: “Policy should be practised by him who would save his life; and I myself shall lose mine, if I do not take care. Suppose I lead him after another lion? Who knows how that may turn out for me? I will approach him slowly, as if fatigued.” The lion by this time began to be very hungry; so, seeing the rabbit coming toward him, he called out in a great passion, “What is the reason thou comest so late?” “Please your Highness,” said the rabbit, “as I was coming along I was forcibly detained by another of your species; but having given him my word that I would return immediately, I came here to represent it to your Highness.” “Go quickly,” said the lion in a rage, “and show me where this vile wretch may be found!” Accordingly, the rabbit conducted the lion to the brink of a deep well, where being arrived, “There,” said the rabbit, “look down and behold him.” At the same time he pointed to the reflected image of the lion in the water, who, swelling with pride and resentment, leaped into the well, as he thought, upon his adversary; and thus put an end to his life.

I repeat, therefore:

He who hath sense hath strength. Where hath he strength who wanteth judgment?