Hindu Fable: THE FOWLER AND THE PIGEONS*

Posted by jlubans on May 16, 2019

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Caption: Illustration by Saheb Ram Tudu, 2011.

On the banks of the (Godavari River) there stood a large Silk-cotton-tree to which the birds came at night from all quarters to roost.
Now, on a certain night, when the moon was setting behind the western hills and the night was nearly over, a Fowler came and spread his net under the Silk-cotton-tree, scattered a few grains of rice on the ground, and hid himself at a short distance.
At this moment the King of the Pigeons, named Speckle-Neck, chanced to be passing through the sky with his companions, and caught sight of the grains of rice.
Now, all Pigeons are very fond of rice. Nevertheless, the King of the Pigeons said to his companions:
"How is it possible for rice to be lying on the ground in this un-traveiled forest?
We will inquire into this, of course, but we do not like the look of it. Love of rice may lead to our ruin. We must be very careful."
"Oh, it's all very well to talk of being careful!" rejoined a young
and foolish Pigeon.
"Being too careful may cost us a good dinner."
At this all the Pigeons flew down to feast upon the rice, and were
promptly caught in the net.
Immediately they all began to blame the young Pigeon whose thoughtlessness had led them into trouble.
But when King Speckle-Neck heard their reproaches he said:
"Do not let us quarrel and blame one another; but let us work together and find some remedy.
Listen and I will tell you what to do:
At one and the same moment and with one purpose we must all rise up under the net and fly off together, net and all.
For even small things have great strength when they work together.
Even a furious Elephant can be bound with ropes of twisted grass if there are enough of them."
Upon considering this advice the other Pigeons thought it good, and decided to follow it.
Accordingly, all together at the same moment they flew upward and bore away the net with them.
The Fowler, who was still hiding at a distance, followed them for a time; but presently the Pigeons and the net passed out of sight, and he had to give up the chase.
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While they are on a roll, let’s hope a wee mousie comes by and gnaws through the net, freeing the pigeons.
An unusually rich fable, it displays foolish “group think”, ignored wisdom and then, wisdom embraced, and, finally, a lesson on cooperation learned for another day – we hope.
In the workplace or just about anywhere, ignoring something simply too good to be true is a human condition; it is ever with us.
When we want something so badly we can taste it, out the window flies our natural wariness.
Why, unlike these pigeons who realize their folly, some people won’t give up their group think conviction until the “Fowler” drops them into the boiling water.

*Source: Hitopadeqa. Book IV. Fable 7. Adapted from the translation by Sir Edwin Arnold included in Cooper, Frederic Taber, editor (1864-1937), “An argosy of fables; a representative selection from the fable literature of every age and land”. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company. 1921.

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More Fables for Leaders are a wee click away:


And, My 2010 book, Leading from the Middle, is available at Amazon.

© Copyright John Lubans 2019

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