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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Transformed Mouse
By Vishnu Sharma (Pilpay) (c. 1000 B.C.?)
 
From the ‘Panchatantra,’ Book iii., Fable 12: Translation of Charles Rockwell Lanman

ON the bank of the Ganges, whose billows are flecked with white foam made by the fish that dart in terror at the roar of the waters breaking on its craggy shores, there is a hermitage filled with ascetics. They are given over to prayer, restraint of the senses, asceticism, study of holy writ, fasting, and meditation. They take very pure and very little water. They mortify the flesh by a diet of bulbs, roots, fruits, and water-plants. They wear only an apron of bast.  1
  There was one among them named Yajnavalkya. He had performed his sacred ablutions in the Ganges, and was about to rinse his mouth, when into his hand there fell from the beak of a hawk a little mouse. On seeing it, he put it on a banyan-leaf, bathed again and rinsed his mouth, performed rites of expiation and so forth; and then by the power of his asceticism he changed the mouse into a girl, took her with him to his hermitage, and said to his wife, who was childless, “My dear, take this girl as your daughter, and bring her up carefully.”  2
  So the wife reared her, and loved her, and cared for her, till she was twelve years old; and then, seeing the girl was fit to be married, she said to her husband, “Seest thou not, O husband, that the time for our daughter’s marriage is slipping by?” “Quite right,” said he: “so if she is agreed, I will summon the exalted sun-god, and give her to him to wife.” “What’s the harm?” said his wife: “do so.”  3
  So the sage called the sun. And such was the power of his summons, which was made up of words of the Scripture, that the sun came instantly, saying, “Reverend sir, didst thou call me?” He answered, “Here is my daughter. If she will but choose thee, then take her to wife.” And to his daughter he spake, “My child, does the exalted sun, the illumer of the three worlds, please thee?” The girl said, “Father, he is too scorching. I like him not. Call me some one more eminent than he.” Then said the hermit to the sun, “Exalted one, is there any one mightier than thou?” And the sun said, “There is one mightier than I,—the cloud; for he covers me, and then none can see me.”  4
  So the sage called the cloud, and said, “Daughter, to him do I give thee.” “He is too dark and cold,” answered she; “so give me to some other mightier being.” Then the sage asked the cloud, “O cloud, is there any mightier even than thou?” “The wind is mightier than I,” said the cloud: “when the wind strikes me I am torn to a thousand shreds.”  5
  So the sage called the wind and said, “Daughter, does the wind please thee best for a husband?”—“Father, he is too fickle. Bring hither some one mightier even than he.” And the sage said, “O wind, is any mightier than thou?” And the wind made answer, “The mountain is mightier than I; for strong as I am, it braces itself and withstands me.”  6
  So the sage called the mountain and said, “Daughter, to him do I give thee.” She answered and spake, “Father, he is too hard and unyielding. Give me to some other than him.” So the sage asked the mountain, “O king of mountains, is there any mightier even than thou?” And the mountain said, “The mice are mightier than I; for they tear and rend my body asunder.”  7
  So the sage called a mouse, and showed him to her, and said, “Daughter, to him do I give thee. Does the king of the mice please thee?”  8
  And she, showing her joy at the thought that this one at last was of her own kind, said, “Father, make me a mouse again, and give me to him, in order that I may fulfill my household duties after the manner ordained for my kind.” So by the power of his asceticism he made her a mouse again, and gave her to him.  9
 
 
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