This is one of the most famous stories of the Panchatantra. Once upon a time, there lived a cruel lion by the name of Bhasuraka, in a dense forest. He was very powerful, ferocious and arrogant. He used to kill the animals of the forest to gratify his hunger. This action of the lion became the cause of worry for the animals of the forest. They were worried that after sometime none of them would be left alive. They discussed this problem among themselves and came upon the decision to hold a meeting with the lion. They wanted to arrive on a friendly settlement with the lion and to put an end to the problem.
One day, as per the plan, all the animals of the forest gathered under a big tree. They invited the King Lion to attend the meeting. In the meeting, the representative of the animals said, "Your Majesty, it is our happiness, that we got you as our king. We are all the more happy that you are attending this meeting”. The King lion thanked them and replied, “What is the matter? Why we have gathered here?”
All the animals started looking at each other. They were recollecting enough courage to start the topic. One of the animals stood up and said, "Sir, its natural that have to kill us for your food. But, killing more than what is required is not a good approach. If you go on killing the animals without any purpose, very soon a day will come, when there will be no animal left in the forest.” The king lion roared, “So what do you want?”
One of the animals replied, “Your Majesty, we have already discussed the problem among ourselves and have come upon a solution. We have decided to send one animal daily to your den. You can kill and eat it, the way you like. This will also save you from the trouble of hunting.” The lion replied, “Fine. I agree to this proposal, but make sure that the animal must reach to me in time, otherwise, I'll kill all the animals of the jungle." The animals agreed to this proposal.
From that day onwards, daily an animal was sent to the lion to become his food. The lion was very happy to have his food right before him without taking any pains of hunting. So, everyday it was the turn of one of the animals. Once, it was the turn of a rabbit to go to the lion’s den. The rabbit was old and wise. He was unwilling to go, but the other animals forced him to go. The rabbit thought of a plan which would save his life and the lives of other animals of the forest. He took his own sweet time to go to the Lion and reached the lion’s den a little late than the usual time.
The Lion was getting impatient on not seeing any animal by the time. The Lion got extremely furious when he saw a small rabbit for his meal. He swore to kill all the animals. The rabbit with folded hands hesitatingly explained, “Your Majesty. I am not to be blamed for that. Actually, six rabbits were sent to make your meal, but five of them were killed and devoured by another lion. He also claimed to be the king of the forest. I have somehow escaped to reach here safely."
The king lion howled in great anger and said, “Impossible, there cannot be another king of this forest. Tell me. Who is he? I’ll kill him. Take me to the place, where you saw him.” The intelligent rabbit agreed and took the Lion towards a deep well, filled with water. When they reached near the well, the rabbit said,” This is the place where he lives. He might be hiding inside.”
The Lion looked into the well and saw his own reflection. He thought it was the other Lion. The Lion was furious and started growling. Naturally the image in the water, the other Lion, was also equally angry. In order to kill the other Lion, he jumped into the well. The Lion darted his head against the rocks and drowned in the deep well.
The wise rabbit, with a sigh of relief went back to other animals and narrated the whole story. All the animals got happy and praised the rabbit for his wit. Thus, the jubilant rabbit saved all the animals from the proud Lion and they all lived cheerfully thereafter.
Moral: Intelligence is superior to physical strength.