THE BRAHMIN, THE CROCODILE AND THE FOX (a folk tale from Uttar Pradesh)

One day, a Brahmin was traveling through a forest. A crocodile saw him and called out, "Help me, O Brahmin! I have been separated from my parents, who live in the holy river Ganga! But I don't know the way to the river. Please take me there!"

The Brahmin was kind. He put the crocodile into a big sack and carried him to the river. "Here you are!" he said, releasing the crocodile from the sack. As soon as the crocodile was out, he looked at the Brahmin menacingly, and said, "Get ready to be eaten!" The Brahmin was taken aback! He asked, "How can you eat me? I just helped you!" said the crocodile. The Brahmin tried to escape but the crocodile caught hold of his leg and pulled him into the river. "How ungrateful of you!" cried the Brahmin? At this, the crocodile said, "I am not ungrateful. I am just following the practice that says: "Eat anything that will sustain you."

"I don't agree with that practice! It's so barbaric!" said the Brahmin. "Let’s find someone who can help us decide. If there impartial judges say that this practice holds goods, you can eat not only me but my entire family." The selfish crocodile thought, "If I eat the Brahmin now, I will miss the golden chance of devouring his entire family!" So, he released the Brahmin's leg and agreed to ask three judges about the practice.

The two began to walk. First, they came across a mango tree. The Brahmin narrated all that had happened between him and the crocodile, and then asked, The brahmin, the crocodile and the fox"Now tell me, O friend! Is it fair to eat anything that sustains you?" The mango tree replied, "Yes! Humans sit in my shade, eat all my fruits and then cut me down." The crocodile and the Brahmin thanked the tree and moved forward. A few miles ahead, they saw a cow. The Brahmin again narrated how he had helped the crocodile and then asked the cow, "Tell me, O friend, is it fair to eat anything that sustains you?"

"Yes!" the cow said. "I provide milk to humans, but when I turn old they abandon me, to be killed by some wild animal." At this, the crocodile looked at the Brahmin and laughed, "Hahaha! Two of the judges have approved!" However, they still needed a third judgment, and so they moved forward. Some miles ahead, they met a fox. The Brahmin told him the whole story and asked the same question. The fox was cunning and smart, he said, "Before I answer your question, can you tell me how such a large crocodile could get into such a small sack? It just seems impossible to me!" "Impossible? Why? I'll show you how," said the crocodile, and snuggled in to the sack. Then, acting on the fox's cue, the Brahmin picked up a huge boulder and dumped it in the sack. He had killed the wicked crocodile! The fox had the crocodile as his food for many days and the Brahmin got away. The crocodile was punished for being selfish and ungrateful.


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