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The foolish Lion and the clever Rabbit

Gurupada

Crafts Museum

Crafts Museum
New Delhi, India

A heron lived near a big lake, full of fish and other water creatures. But the heron had grown so old that he could not catch fish anymore. With each passing day he became lean and weak. Unable to bear the hunger, he devised a plan. He sat at the edge of the lake in full view of everyone and began to cry. A passing crab took pity, "Uncle, What is the matter? Why are you crying instead of catching fish?" Continuing his act, the heron replied, "My child, I will not touch fish anymore. I have decided to renounce all worldly matters, and vowed to fast unto death". The crab asked, " But if you have indeed renounced worldly matters, why is it you cry?" The heron explained, "My child, I have been in this lake from my birth. I have grown up here. And now that I have grown so old, I have heard from a wise astrologer that this lake will dry up as there will be no rains for the next twelve years". The crab was taken aback by the news and shared it with the other water creatures. Soon everybody started to panic. They believed the heron, as he was not trying to catch any fish at all, and asked him to guide them and save them from disaster. The heron said, "There is a lake not far from here. It is full of water, and beautifully covered with lotus flowers. I can take you there, if you can ride on my back." As he had already gained their confidence, they gathered around him and requested him to carry them one at a time to the other lake. Every day he would carry them pretending to take them to the other lake but after flying a little away he would smash them against a rock and eat them up. He would then return to the lake and make up stories about how happy they all were in the other lake. This went on for many days until the crab said to the heron, "Uncle, you take others to the lake but it is me who is your first friend. Please take me there too." The heron was happy to hear this. "Having a fish everyday has become monotonous. Good that I will get to eat a crab today." While the heron was carrying the crab to the same rock, the crab looked down from above and saw a heap of bones and skeletons. At once, the crab understood what the heron was up to. He remained calm, and said to the heron, "Uncle, the lake seems far and I am quite heavy. You must be getting tired, let us stop for some rest". The heron was confident that there was no way the crab could escape from him in the sky. The heron replied, "There is no lake. As I do every day, I will smash you against a rock and make a meal out of you." Soon as the heron confessed the truth, the crab got hold of the heron's neck with its strong claws, and strangled him to death. Slowly, carrying the crane's neck, the crab reached the lake where he told all his friends the truth of what had happened. Then proudly he said, "I understood what he was up to, and have killed the trickster. There is no need to worry, for we are safe in this lake.”

Details

  • Title: The foolish Lion and the clever Rabbit
  • Creator: Gurupada
  • Location: West Bengal
  • Physical Dimensions: Natural dyes with gum paste on chart paper, 23 X 19 inches
  • Provenance: West Bengal
  • Type: Pata Painting

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