The Heron and the Crab

Morale of the story – EXCESS OF GREED IS HARMFUL!

Once upon a time there lived an old heron in a jungle near a big pond which was full of fishes, crabs and other water creatures. As he was old and feeble, he could hardly catch any fish. Often he thought if he didn’t find a way to catch fish he will not survive.

This thought would haunt him day and night. Finally he found a way to get out of his misery. Panchtantra - Heron and crabOne fine day he sat at the edge of the pond and began to cry, and he let all the fish and frogs pass by him, unhurt. All the creatures of the pond were surprised at this. One of the clever crabs of that pond on seeing this came to him and asked, “Uncle, why are you so inactive these days? You have not caught even a single fish or frog.”

“My child, times have changed,” replied the heron sadly. “We are soon going to face very hard times. The creatures of the pond are going to die.” “How?” the crab asked in surprise.

Heron pulled a long face and answered, “An astrologer told me this morning that there will be no rain in this forest for the next 12 years, all the lakes will dry up. I am concerned for all of you. You will all die. Thus I am fasting and praying to God for all of you”, the heron sighed.

“Oh no,” exclaimed the crab. “This is very serious. I must warn all the creatures immediately.”

The crab scampered towards the river as fast as he can to convey this news to all the other creatures in the water. They were all panic stricken. “Brother crab, please ask the old, wise uncle heron for a solution” they all appealed to him.

Panchtantra - Heron and crabCrab rushed to the heron and said, “We’ve learnt about your concern for us. Please save us from this situation.” “Well”, replied the heron scratching his head, “I am just a bird but I think I know how to help you out of this plight. Not far away there is a big lake, which will never dry up. If you want I will take you all there one by one”. This seemed like a good idea and the crab went off to the river happily.

One the selected day, heron came to the lake. The entire pond population was awaiting for him eagerly at the river bank and there was a great scramble.”Take me first”, said one fish. “No, I am his older brother. Take me before him”, said another. Everybody was in a hurry to go to the other lake.

“I am not young or strong enough to carry all of you at a time,” replied the heron. “I can only carry one at a time, holding you in my beak.” The fish were happy at that. They were very frightened at first but all that was important to them was to be transported to the other pond.

Over the next few days the heron carried them one at a time. Well the old heron, of course, had no intention of taking them to any lake. But instead of taking the fish to the pond, he flew to a big rock and ate them with great relish.

The crab was observing all this with a suspicion thought. One day he came to the heron and said, “Uncle, please take me this time. I want to be saved too. You have been only taking the fishes. This time, give me a chance.”

Panchtantra - Heron and crab

Image source – Panchtantra

“Of course, I will take you,” replied the heron with pleasure, ‘Hmmm!’, thought the heron. ‘I am tired of eating fish. Crab meat will be a good change.’ Heron took the crab on his back and off they set out for their destination.

From a distance crab spotted a pile of bones on the rock and instantly understood that they were the bones of all the fish who had left the pond in recent days. Moreover, the heron was slowing down and flying towards the rock. “Uncle heron, how far is the new pond from here and Why are you slowing down?” he asked, summoning his courage.

“He! He! He”, laughed the heron wickedly. “O foolish crab, there is no other pond. You are my food for today. All those other creatures fell for my trick and they made a nice meal. I will soon dash you against the rock and eat you too”.

Panchtantra - Heron and crab

Image source – Panchtantra

Crab was prepared. The minute he heard what the heron had to say, he caught heron between his claws and began to strangle him. Heron crashed into a rock and the crab jumped down to safety. Crash was too much for the old heron and that was the end of him. Brave crab gripped the heron and dragged him to the lake where the other fishes were eagerly awaiting the return of the heron.

Upon seeing the crab, they all rushed to the river bank. “Crab, what happened to heron uncle? Why are you carrying him like that?”

“You are a bunch of fools”, saying that crab explained the entire story. The fish and inhabitants of the lake were very sad at knowing what happened to other fishes.

All the creatures of the pond thanked him for saving their lives and said that they had learned a lesson. They all vowed that they would never trust anyone blindly again.

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2 Responses

  1. Divya says:

    Nice collection of stories, please post more.

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