MASTER PO AND THE TIGER
A young boy, by name of Master Po, used to leave his village every day and wander in the forest. He became friends with all the animals, especially the Tiger. Master Po and the Tiger used to take long walks in the forest together. Master Po had a genuine affection for his friend, but the Tiger had an ulterior motive; he looked forward to the day when he could ask young Master Po to take Min to the village, so that he could run away with a fat calf or two belonging to the villagers. One day, the Tiger said to Master Po, “Friend Po, will you take me to your village?”
“I cannot do that, good Tiger,” replied Master Po, “for the villagers all dislike you. You must remember that yon have often pounced upon their cattle while at pasture outside the village.”
“If you won't take me, I will go there by myself,” said the Tiger petulantly.
That same evening, the Tiger loitered about the village gate. Master Po saw him, and said to him, “Friend Tiger, do not loiter about here, for the villagers are full of cunning, and they will trap you?” But the Tiger merely laughed at this warning. Master Po stood at the gate, trying to persuade his friend to go back to the forest, but without success. It now became dark, and as his parents were calling him, Master Po went back to his house with a final warning to the Tiger. The Tiger waited until the villagers were all asleep. He then went into the village, and came out dragging a fat calf. Early the next day, Master Po went into the forest and found the Tiger. “Tiger,” said Master Po, “we have been friends for a long time, so please heed my words. Tonight they are laying a trap for you, so do not come again to our village.” But the Tiger laughed at the warning as before.
That night the Tiger entered the village, and was duly caught in the trap laid by the villagers. In the morning, the villagers found him. “We will let him rage and roar in the trap until he exhausts himself,” agreed the villagers, “and we will it him die slowly of starvation and thirst.” So they left the Tiger in the trap.
For six days the Tiger raged and roared, and Master Po felt sorry for his friend, but as he was afraid of a beating from his parents, he did not dare to set the Tiger free. On the seventh day, however, Master Po felt that it was worth a beating to save his friend, so he went and opened the trap. “Run a way now, good Tiger” said Master Po, “for the sake of our friendship, I will face the anger of my parents and other villagers.”
Thank you, “replied the Tiger, but I Must eat you, for I am exhausted and cannot hunt for prey.”
Master Po pleaded that as the animal owed him a debt of gratitude for freeing him, the Tiger should not eat him. The Tiger, in reply, contended that there was no such thing as a debt of gratitude. In the end, Master Po succeeded in persuading the Tiger that they should find a judge and let him decide their dispute.
Master Po and the Tiger went into the forest in search of a judge, and they met the Skull of a dead ox. They begged the Skull to decide their dispute. After listening to the arguments put forward by the disputants, the Skull gave his decision. “There is no such thing as a debt of gratitude. For example, my Master made me plough his land for many years, but when I became old in his service, he killed me and ate me. So the Tiger should eat Master Po.”
“I will eat you now,” roared the Tiger. But Master Po claimed the right of appeal to another judge. So Master Po and the Tiger went on until they met the Banyan Tree, whom they asked to decide their case. The Banyan Tree, after listening to the arguments put forward by the disputants, gave his decision: “There is no such thing as a debt of gratitude. For example, human beings rest in my shade, from the heat and glare of the sun, yet they break my branches and take away my flowers. So the Tiger should eat Master Po.”
“I will eat you now,” roared the Tiger. But Master Po claimed the right of appeal to another judge. “Remember this is your last chance,” warned the Tiger, “for one is entitled to go before three courts only for the same dispute.” So the two went until they met he Rabbit.
“Wise Rabbit,” said they, “please decide our dispute.” After listening to the arguments of the disputants the Rabbit said that he would have to visit the scene of the dispute before he could give his decision.
So the Rabbit went with Master Po and the Tiger to the trap at the village. “Now,” said the Rabbit, “where were you, Tiger, when Master Po came to free you?.”
“I was in the trap,” replied the Tiger.
“Show me exactly how you stood in the trap,” asked the Rabbit, and the Tiger went and stood in the trap. “Now, Master Po,” said the Rabbit, “close the trap first and then show me how you came and freed the Tiger.” When Master Po had locked the trap, the Rabbit shouted, “Stop! Do not free the Tiger.” The Rabbit then explained to the astonished Tiger and Master Po, “I have now restored the status quo of the disputants. The Tiger is back at his place, and Master Po is back at his place also. The dispute is now over.”
The Rabbit then went back to the forest, and Master Po ran back to his home. The Tiger died of hunger and thirst a few days later.
Photo Credit: Google Image
Author: Maung Htin Aung
Steemed by: Henry Aung (Kachin)