The Panchatantra (Purnabhadra's Recension of 1199 CE)/Book 5/The Musical Donkey

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In a certain town was a donkey named Prig. In the daytime he carried laundry packages, but was at liberty to wander anywhere at night. One night while wandering in the fields he fell in with a jackal and made friends. So the two broke through a hedge into cucumber-beds, and having eaten what they could hold of that comestible, parted at dawn to go home.

One night the egotistical donkey, standing among the cucumbers, said to the jackal: "See, nephew! The night is marvelously fine. I will contribute a song. What sentiment shall my song express?" "Don't, uncle," said the jackal. "It might make trouble, seeing that we are on thieves' business. Thieves and lovers should keep very quiet. As the proverb says:

No sleepyhead should pilfer fur,
No invalid, rich provender,
No sneezer should become a thief—
Unless they wish to come to grief.

"Besides, your vocal music is not agreeable, since it resembles a blast on a conch-shell. The farmers would hear you from afar, would rise, and would fetter or kill you. Better keep quiet and eat."

"Come, come!" said the donkey. "Your remarks prove that you live in the woods and have no musical taste. Did you never hear this?

Oh, bliss if murmurs sweet to hear
Of music's nectar woo your ear
When darkness flees from moonlight clear
In autumn, and your love is near."

"Very true, uncle," said the jackal. "But your bray is harsh. Why do a thing that defeats your own purpose?" "Fool, fool!" answered the donkey. "Do you think me ignorant of vocal music? Listen to its systematization, as follows:

Seven notes, three scales, and twenty-one
Are modulations said to be;
Of pitches there are forty-nine,
Three measures, also pauses three;

Caesuras three; and thirty-six
Arrangements of the notes, in fine;
Six apertures; the languages
Are forty; sentiments are nine.

One hundred songs and eighty-five
Are found in songbooks, perfect, pure,
With all accessories complete,
Unblemished in their phrasing sure.

On earth is nothing nobler found,
Nor yet in heaven, than vocal song;
The singing Devil soothes the Lord,
When quivering strings the sound prolong.

"After this, how can you think me lacking in educated taste? How can you try to hinder me?"

"Very well, uncle," said the jackal. "I will stay by the gap in the hedge, and look for farmers. You may sing to heart's content."

When he had done so, the donkey lifted his neck and began to utter sounds. But the farmers, hearing the bray of a donkey, angrily clenched their teeth, snatched cudgels, rushed in, and beat him so that he fell to the ground. Next they hobbled him by fastening on his neck a mortar with a convenient hole, then went to sleep. Presently the donkey stood up, forgetting the pain as donkeys naturally do. As the verse puts it:

With dog, and ass, and horse,
And donkey more than most,
The pain from beatings is
Immediately lost.

Then with the mortar on his neck, he trampled the hedge and started to run away. At this moment the jackal, looking on from a safe distance, said with a smile:

Well sung, uncle! Why would you
Not stop when I told you to?
What a necklace! Yes, you wear
Music medals rich and rare.

"Just so, you would not stop when I advised it."

After listening to this, the wheel-bearer said: "O my friend, you are quite right. Yes, there is much wisdom in the verse:

He who, lacking wit, does not
Harken to a friend,
Just like weaver Slow, inclines
To a fatal end."

"How was that?" asked the gold-finder. And the wheel-bearer told the story of