The Fierce Lion & Clever Mr. Rabbit
Shaykh Jalaaluddeen Rumi rahmatullahi alayh [604-670AH/1207-1273AD] relates an interesting episode in his epic book Mathnawi...
Once upon a time, many animals were living peacefully in jungle when a fierce lion arrived and started devouring the animals freely. All the animals became agitated and afraid. At a hastily convened meeting, it was decided to approach King Lion and request if they be permitted to send an animal everyday for Sire’s meal: saving lion the trouble of hunting and, allowing all other animals to graze in peace. King Lion agreed.
Daily, lots would be drawn and, whichever unfortunate animals name was drawn would proceed to King Lion’s den, whilst the others lived peacefully.
Now, one day, Mr. Rabbit’s name was drawn...clever Mr. Rabbit definitely did not wish to end up as that tyrant lions dinner...and, so he schemed a very, very clever plan.
Mr. Rabbit waited and waited...Until the lion became very, very hungry and annoyed. By this time, all in the jungle could hear King Lion’s angry roaring...Grr! Grr! Grr! and became concerned. Quickly, the other animals arrived to pressure Mr. Rabbit into fulfilling their pledge.
Finally, after much persuasion, Mr. Rabbit departed towards the dreaded bone ridden den...From afar, the lion growled loudly:
“Grr! Grr! Did I not tell you animals that you would not be able to fulfil your pledge! From now on, I shall start eating anybody and everybody at will again! Grr!”
Clever Mr. Rabbit kept his cool and with a brave heart pleaded...
“Sire, being king of the jungle, you are, of course at liberty to do as you wish but, do listen to my story first. Something absolutely terrible has happened today and, we animals are afraid that we shall not be able to fulfil our pledge, because another lion has appeared in the jungle...yes, and that cheat is devouring the animals sent for your meals!
This is precisely why I am late. I was coming with my brother to you...when this other lion appeared and mauled my brother. I managed to escape, but only just! Therefore, Sire, if you wish to eat comfortably daily, you will have to see the other lion off first!”
Infuriated, angry King of the Jungle growled:
“Grr! Grr! Show me to where he is Grr! Grr!”
Sensing his opportunity, Mr. Rabbit obliged:
“Yes, of course sire...but, may I request that you carry me on your shoulders...for I am very afraid of that other lion!”
So they both proceeded through jungle until they arrived at a cliff...this overlooked a shallow pond. When the lion observed his own reflection in the water below...Instantly Mr. Rabbit screamed out loudly...
“Look, Sire! There he is and he has my brother in his mouth! Quickly, Kill him!”
Immediately, the fierce lion jumped off the cliff unto [the other lion] below...No...onto his own reflection in the shallow water containing large rocks...and was killed instantly! Clever Mr. Rabbit returned merrily skipping through the jungle, to spend rest of his life narrating to the other animals of how he had single-handedly defeated this ferocious beast.
Observe the error of the lion: for whilst possessing courage he lacked Hikmat [Wisdom] and, this was precisely the cause of his ‘downfall’.
Reproduced from: 'Ashraf's Orchard'