The Brahman, the Tiger, and the Six
ONCE upon a time a Brahman, who was walking along
the road, came upon an iron cage, in which a great tiger
had been shut up by the villagers who caught him.
As the Brahman passed by, the Tiger called out and said to
him: "Brother Brahman, brother Brahman, have pity on me,
and let me out of this cage for one minute only to drink a
little water, for I am dying of thirst." The Brahman answered:
"No, I will not; for if I let you out of the cage you
will eat me."
"Oh, father of mercy," answered the Tiger, "in truth that
I will not. I will never be so ungrateful; only let me out,
that I may drink some water and return." Then the Brahman
took pity on him and opened the cage door; but no sooner
had he done so than the Tiger, jumping out, said: "Now, I
will eat you first and drink the water afterwards." But the
Brahman said: "Only do not kill me hastily. Let us first ask
the opinion of six, and if all of them say it is just and fair
that you should put me to death, then I am willing to die."
"Very well," answered the Tiger, "it shall be as you say;
we will first ask the opinion of six."
So the Brahman and the Tiger walked on till they came to
a Banyan tree; and the Brahman said to it: "Banyan Tree,
Banyan Tree, hear and give judgment." "On what must I
give judgment?" asked the Banyan Tree. "This Tiger," said
the Brahman, "begged me to let him out of his cage to drink a
little water, and he promised not to hurt me if I did so; but
now, that I have let him out, he wishes to eat me. Is it just
that he should do so or no?"
The Banyan Tree answered: "Men often come to take shelter
in the cool shade under my boughs from the scorching rays
of the sun; but when they have rested, they cut and break my
pretty branches and wantonly scatter my leaves. Let the
Tiger eat the man, for men are an ungrateful race."
At these words the Tiger would have instantly killed the
Brahman, but the Brahman said: "Tiger, Tiger, you must not
kill me yet, for you promised that we should first hear the
judgment of six." "Very well," said the Tiger, and they
went on their way. After a little while they met a camel.
"Sir Camel, Sir Camel," cried the Brahman, "hear and give
judgment." "On what shall I give judgment?" asked the
Camel. And the Brahman related how the Tiger had begged
him to open the cage door, and promised not to eat him if he
did so; and how he had afterwards determined to break his
word, and asked if that were just or not. The Camel replied:
"When I was young and strong, and could do much
work, my master took care of me and gave me good food; but
now that I am old, and have lost all my strength in his service,
he overloads me and starves me and beats me without mercy.
Let the Tiger eat the man, for men are an unjust and cruel
The Tiger would then have killed the Brahman, but the
latter said: "Stop, Tiger, for we must first hear the judgment
So they both went again on their way. At a little distance
they found a bullock lying by the roadside. The Brahman
said to him: "Brother Bullock, brother Bullock, hear and
give judgment." "On what must I give judgment?" asked
the Bullock. The Brahman answered: "I found this Tiger in
a cage, and he prayed me to open the door and let him out
to drink a little water, and promised not to kill me if I did
so; but when I had let him out he resolved to put me to death.
Is it fair that he should do so or not?" The Bullock said:
"When I was able to work my master fed me well and tended
me carefully, but now I am old he has forgotten all I did for
him, and left me by the roadside to die. Let the Tiger eat the
man, for men have no pity."
Three out of the six had given judgment against the
Brahman, but still he did not lose all hope and determined to
ask the other three.
They next met an eagle flying through the air, to whom the
Brahman cried, "O Eagle, great Eagle, hear and give judgment."
"On what must I give judgment?" asked the Eagle.
The Brahman stated the case, and the Eagle answered:
"Whenever men see me they try to shoot me; they climb the
rocks and steal away my little ones. Let the Tiger eat the
man, for men are the persecutors of the earth."
Then the Tiger began to roar and said: "The judgment of
all is against you, O Brahman!" But the Brahman answered:
"Stay yet a little longer, for two others must first be asked."
After this they saw an alligator, and the Brahman related
the matter to him, hoping for a more favorable verdict. But
the Alligator said: "Whenever I put my nose out of the water
men torment me and try to kill me. Let the Tiger eat the
man, for as long as men live we shall have no rest."
The Brahman gave himself up as lost; but again he prayed
the Tiger to have patience and let him ask the opinion of the
sixth judge. Now the sixth was a jackal. The Brahman
told his story, and said to him: "Uncle Jackal, Uncle Jackal,
say what is your judgment?" The Jackal answered: "It is
impossible for me to decide who is in the right and who in
the wrong unless I see the exact position in which you were
when the dispute began. Show me the place." So the
Brahman and the Tiger returned to the place where they first
met, and the Jackal went with them. When they got there,
the Jackal said: "Now Brahman, show me exactly where you
stood." "Here," said the Brahman, standing by the iron tiger
cage. "Exactly there, was it?" asked the Jackal. "Exactly
here," replied the Brahman. "Where was the Tiger, then?"
asked the Jackal. "In the cage," answered the Tiger.
"How do you mean?" said the Jackal; "how were you within
the cage? which way were you looking?" "Why, I stood
so," said the Tiger, jumping into the cage, "and my head was
on this side." "Very good," said the Jackal, "but I cannot
judge without understanding the whole matter exactly. Was
the cage door open or shut?" "Shut and bolted," said the
Brahman. "Then shut and bolt it," said the Jackal.
When the Brahman had done this, the Jackal said: "Oh,
you wicked and ungrateful Tiger! when the good Brahman
opened your cage door, is to eat him the only return you
would make? Stay there, then, for the rest of your days, for
no one will ever let you out again. Proceed on your journey,
friend Brahman. Your road lies that way and mine this."
So saying, the Jackal ran off in one direction, and the
Brahman went rejoicing on his way in the other.