The Greedy Cobra and the King of Frogs

Venkataraman Singh Shyam

Crafts Museum

Crafts Museum

Gangadatta, the king of frogs, lived in a well. His relatives had an eye on his throne and often created problems for him. Unable to bear the harassment the king came out of the well one day and noticed a big cobra enter the burrow of a tree. He thought it might be an idea to set an enemy to fight an enemy. So he went to the burrow and called the cobra, “Priyadarsana, please come out.” The cobra, however, was careful. He thought, “Who is this fellow? He does not seem to be one of us. “Who are you, sir?” he asked. "I am Gangadatta, king of frogs. I have come to seek your help.” “I cannot believe you. Can there be friendship between a blade of dry grass and fire?” said the cobra. “O Priyadarsana, what I tell you is true. You are my born enemy. But I have come to seek help to avenge my humiliation.” “Who humiliated you,” asked the cobra. “It is my relatives.”“ Where do you live? Is it a well or a pond or a tank?” “It is a well with stone walls.” “But I have no legs. How can I reach the well and kill your enemies?” “Sir, please don’t say no. I will show you how to enter the well. There is a crevice in the wall that opens into the well. It’s a nice hiding place. I will show you,” said Gangadatta. The cobra thought, “I have become old. Rarely can I get a frog to eat. This fellow has come to give me a new lease of life. I will go with him and have a daily feast of frogs.” So the cobra agreed to go. “But there is a condition,” said Gangadatta. “I will take you there and show you the place. But you should spare frogs that are close to me. You should eat only those I select.” The cobra replied, “You are now my friend. I give you my word. I will eat only those marked by you.” The frog king showed him the crevice in the well and his relatives who deserved to be killed. The cobra happily settled in the crevice and finished in course of time all those frogs their king had marked for extermination. Now without frogs to eat, the cobra told the king, “I have destroyed all your enemies. Now show me more prey for food. Gangadatta told him, “You have done your job to help me. Now, it is time for you to leave this place.” “How can I leave?” protested the cobra. “Someone else will occupy my place. So, I will not go, I will stay here. You offer me one frog every day from your circle of relatives.” Now repenting for making friends with his natural enemy, Gangadatta had little choice but to offer the cobra one friend a day. One day, it was the turn of Yamunadatta, son of the king of frogs. The king cried bitterly over the loss of his son. His wife then told him that there was no point crying and that he should immediately leave the place and look for ways to end the menace of the cobra. As days passed, the cobra finished off the entire tribe of frogs with the exception of king Gangadatta. He then asked “Look, my friend, there is now no frog left. I am very hungry. Show me how I can sate my hunger.” The king replied, “Priyadarsana, don’t worry about food as long as I am your friend. You get me out of this well. I will go and look for other wells of frogs. I will tempt them to come here and you can have your fill.” The cobra said, “You are like a brother to me, Gangadatta. I can’t kill you. But if you bring me food, you will like my father. I will get you out of this well.” The king came out and disappeared. The cobra kept waiting but Gangadatta did not return. The cobra sought the help of a chameleon. “Please go tell Gangadatta to come. I cannot live without such a trusted friend.” The chameleon took the message “Your friend Priyadarsana is eagerly looking for you to return.” Gangadatta replied, “Who can trust a hungry man. Please go.”

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  • Title: The Greedy Cobra and the King of Frogs
  • Creator: Venkataraman Singh Shyam
  • Location: Madhya Pradesh
  • Physical Dimensions: Acrylic paints on Paper, 19 x 23 inches
  • Provenance: Madhya Pradesh
  • Type: Gond Painting