Painting of the ferocious lion from the Indian fable of the Lion-Makers.

The Lion-Makers (An Old Indian Fable)

The Lion-Makers is a famous parable from the Panchatantra, a collection of Indian fables from the 3rd century BCE. This is a translation by Juan Artola Miranda. It is about the dangers of blindly pursuing knowledge.

Slashes made by an enraged barbarian fabulist.

Once upon a time, in a small village, there lived four friends. Three were learned in the arts and sciences. The fourth considered himself too practical for that, accumulating common sense instead. However, even he was not content with his knowledge, for he had never put it to practical use. He convinced the other three to embark on a journey to a distant land, where they could use their knowledge to gain fame and fortune.

As they journeyed, they came across the bones of a dead lion lying on the ground. The first friend, who had studied anatomy, said, “Look at these bones! I can assemble them and bring the lion’s structure back to its original form.” The second friend, skilled in the science of life restoration, said, “Once the bones are assembled, I can cover them with flesh, skin, and hair, making it look like a living lion.” The third friend, who knew how to give life, said, “When the lion is complete, I can breathe life into it, and it will be as if it had never died.”

The fourth friend, practical but unambitious, said, “This is a lion. It will eat us.”

The three scholars dismissed his concerns, believing their knowledge was infallible. They proceeded with their plan. The first friend assembled the bones, and the second friend covered them with flesh, skin, and hair. The lion now looked as real as any living creature.

The wise fourth friend, who had objected earlier, realized his friends would not heed his warning. “My dear friends, if you insist on continuing, please allow me to climb this tree.”

The third friend continued on, determined to prove his expertise. He breathed life into the lion, and it instantly sprang back to life. The lion, now alive and hungry, roared and pounced on the three friends, killing them all.

The wise fourth friend, who had taken refuge in the tree, watched the tragic scene unfold. Then, to his horror, he learned that lions can climb trees.

But that is enough of this dark jungle. There is another across the river, where there lives a Grasshopper and an Ant.

Juan Artola Miranda

I am Juan Artola Miranda, a fabulist living in the Mexican Caribbean. My friends know me by the name of my father's father, but that name grew into something bigger, my writing reaching tens of millions of readers. It was too strong for me to control. Artola Miranda is the name of my mother's mother. It's a better name for a fabulist.

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