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Wisdom Comes From Tending the Fire

The Old Wise Tiger and the Young Rival

Tale by Nivedita Yohana

Once, there was an old, ageing tiger who was the leader of the jungle. He was known not only for physical strength but also for possessing inner strength and wisdom. During times of unrest, the tiger resolved the issues through a combination of wisdom and strength, instead of just waging war. However, if waging war was inevitable, the kingdom had the strongest army. The kingdom thus flourished in peace, harmony and wealth. One day, when the old tiger was resting on a flat rock next to a mighty river, he was suddenly accosted by a neighbouring clan leader, a young egoistic tiger.

The egoistic tiger challenged the old tiger to a duel. The old tiger, sensing danger, did not lose the presence of mind. With utter calmness and confidence, the old tiger questioned the credibility of the young tiger. Knowing that a young ego can be very malleable, manipulated and defeated, the old tiger used this understanding to his advantage as he started questioning the young tiger:

“Ohh young thing, do you have the strongest army which has won hundreds of wars?”

The young tiger replied:

“Yes, my army has won thousands of wars, not just hundreds.”

The old tiger gestured toward the vast expanse of the jungle:

“See the riches, the vegetation and all the animals. I achieved all this through my hard work and dedication. All other animals revere me and look to me with love and respect. We work as a community, where every animal gets to voice their opinion.”

The young tiger said beaming with pride:

“Pah! All animals in my kingdom look at me with fear and obey my orders. Arousing fear is the true mark of strength and leadership.”

The old tiger continued:

“Do you think you can reach for the sun, the moon and the stars and conquer those too?”

The young tiger forcefully retorted:

“I have youth by my side, many more years ahead of me and can achieve more than you have in your lifetime. Even the sun, the moon, stars and the universe should bow down to my strength. I am invincible, unconquerable and I am going to kill you and conquer your riches too.”

With that, the young tiger sat up on his hind legs as if he was ready to pounce on the old tiger.

The Wise Old Tiger and the Young Rival — aquarelle by Greg Suffanti

The old tiger, still very calm, replied:

“O! My youthful, brave, invincible and unconquerable creature, I will offer you my kingdom without a fight, if you can swim across that river. I know it should not be a big thing for you, considering your youth, bravery and strength”

The old tiger pointed to the river, known for its strong currents. No one had ever lived to tell the tale of successfully crossing the river.

The young, arrogant tiger, overcome with pride, immediately agreed to swim across the river, not having the patience to realize the wisdom of the adage:

“be careful while crossing uncharted waters”.

The young tiger was immediately swept away by the swift currents and drowned.

Moral: Courage does not necessarily mean having only physical strength, but also having common sense, wisdom and belief in oneself.
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