An ancient ‘Tom and Jerry’ story

Our actions are guided by our thoughts and the thoughts by Values, Values in turn by our principles. The wise clearly understand this and they choose carefully and intelligently. Every choice is verified for the value it furthers.

Mahabharata is a gold mine of such beautiful simple tales which makes sense for anyone who aspires for success and happiness in these troublesome times. Here is a tale of ancient ‘Tom and Jerry’ which in this case is serious business! Read this story slowly and carefully, as it has so many gold mines in a simple tale. A little reflection can easily make us identify with many real life situations we face and the optimal way to succeed in such situation. We look forward to your reflections before we express our key learning from this story.

Once upon a time, in a dense forest there was a huge banyan tree. A little wise rat by the name ‘Grey hair’ lived in a small hole under the shade of the Banyan tree. Its adversary Tom ‘Hairy’ Cat also resided in the same complex on the branches of the Banyan tree. A hunter wanting to catch a few animals spread the net under this very banyan tree. The cat did not notice it, probably because of its long hair hiding its vision. It got caught in the net spread by the hunter.

The rat was very happy to note that its adversary had been caught and thought, this was the right moment to move around freely in the dead of the night. As it was running around it smelt a mongoose ‘the stealer’ ready to prey on it on the ground and an owl – the ‘night eye’ watching quietly from above with the same intention.

Now the rat got frightened. It had its enemies all around. A mongoose ready to kill it on one side, an owl ready to pounce from above and ‘hairy’ cat which loves to feed on rats caught in the net. It knew that once cat is out, it would not spare its life too!

Now the rat started to think.

‘Right now the need is to protect my life, by some means or the other. A true wise person would focus all his attention in saving his life till the very last moment. Such persons, even in the midst of gravest of dangers, would never perish. The only one which can help me now is the cat. Though it is my enemy it is caught in the net and faces the danger of being killed by the hunter. I can’t survive the attack of three enemies. So for now, to protect myself, I got to extend my hand of friendship to the cat. There is no other option. Wise men have said that during the time of crisis, a clever person should not hesitate to become friendly even with his enemies to protect himself. Since the cat itself is in danger, it will be open to my advice.

After thinking thus, the mouse approached the cat, which was now caught and said with a concern in its face, “I want you to live. I can free you from the peril you are caught in. I can also be alive and so can you. An owl and a mongoose is eying me viciously. This is the danger I am in. you are caught in a net. This is the danger you are in. I want your help in escaping from the mongoose and the owl. In return I can tear away the net with my sharp teeth and rescue you. When someone is having faith in another, the other should also have faith in him. So let us both shake our hands in friendship built over mutual trust. When a person is trying to cross a deep river, he catches hold of a log of wood floating nearby and thereby both reach ashore. Similarly you can save me from the danger I am in and I can save you from the danger you are in! Please tell me that you are in agreement with my plan.”

On hearing this, the Hairy cat’s face lit up and it said, “What you said is cent percent true. Let us do what we can to save both of us. If I am protected by you, I shall be indebted to you for life! I shall be your disciple! My love for you shall never diminish. I shall do as per your bidding. So please do what needs to be done now!”

The wise rat said, “To protect myself from mongoose and the owl, I shall get into the net and lie in your lap. You should not kill me. Mongoose and the owl cannot come near you. So I shall be protected. I shall tear the nets into pieces and set you free. Have no doubt on this at all!”

The rat, as per the plan went in and lied down on the soft cushy lap of the Cat. Seeing this mongoose and owl dropped their desire to devour the mouse. After they departed, the mouse, as per the word it gave to the Cat, started to cut the nets in a leisurely manner. Seeing this, Hairy Cat got suspicious, ‘Hey! Why are you doing your job in this laid back manner? Now that you got the protection from me, you are trying to cheat me! If the nets don’t get completely torn before the hunter arrives, I would get caught and be certainly killed. What you are doing is totally unfair!’

Hearing this, the rat calmly looked at the cat and started talking, “Please do not be in a hurry! Acts done without pre-determination of the right time does not give the complete results. If I release you, unmindful of the right time, I will be killed by you, as then you are no longer in danger and have little use for me. But, I shall not forsake you. I am constantly watching if the hunter is coming within our eye sight. Once I see the hunter approaching the net, I shall speed up my task and cut asunder net to pieces in a jiffy. At that time, when you get released, you would be more intent on saving your life by jumping out and climbing the tree than trying to hurt me. I can also run to my hole safely. So the right time to release you is not now, but the time hunter approaches close to the net!”

The Cat refused to accept the argument of the rat.

‘Good people do not act like this when dealing with friends. When mongoose and Owl were threats to your life, did I not rescue you speedily? Should you also not act in the same token to release me immediately? If you keep thinking about our old enmity and act sluggishly like this, I would get caught by hunter and be surely killed. Forget the past intentions of mine to kill you and devour you. Forgive my past deeds. We are friends now. Release me now and I shall protect you forever.’

The wise rat was firm!

“The words of yours are rooted in Selfishness! Even among friends, if one is afraid of the other, he should act very cautiously. The weak who reconciles with the strong, should be ever careful and cautious. For a person, none are friends and none are enemies. Only the circumstances and the events that happen decide if the other person becomes his friend or enemy. Further if we do what is expected by others completely, they would not care about us at all. Only if a little is left over, that person ever cares about us. This way, I have done half the job. Only a little is left. Once I see the hunter approaching, I shall finish the rest. Do not worry. Do not hurry!!”

Minutes ticked by…

It was almost dawn, the barking of dogs signaled the proximity of the hunter.

The cat trembled, ‘What are you going to do now! The hunter is here!’

The rat immediately completed the job of cutting the net. The cat leapt out of the cut net and climbed the tree safely. The mouse ran to its hole.

The hunter left with an angry, broken heart and a torn, irreparable net.