The moral of the story from Maharashtra is that stripes alone don't make the Hyena a Tiger, says Colonel R Hariharan.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
In the political jungle of Maharashtra, a Tiger, Hyena, Fox and an Elephant lived side by side.
Once upon a time the Elephant was the unchallenged king of the jungle. But with aging, he started losing his strength. He lost one tusk fighting others, while the other tusk was sawed off by poachers who fed him opium.
Blood sucking parasites further weakened him.
He was confined to a patch of the jungle where he can find some grazing. He kept mumbling about his years of glory when everyone feared him.
The problem started after the Elephant ceased to be king. The Tiger grew into a powerful animal. Often he would bare his teeth, sharpen his claws and roar he was the king of the jungle.
The Hyena thought he was also a Tiger because of his stripes and tagged along with the Tiger helped him spot the prey. Scavenging upon the Tiger's kills the Hyena grew plump.
The wily Fox was a survivor and wore a wolf skin coat to scare other animals. It had its own territory and protected it with its pack.
The jungle started shrinking with climate change and it became difficult for the animals to live together. So they decided to elect a king periodically to rule the jungle.
The Elephant was too old and became a marginal player in jungle politics. He became resigned to his fate and lived mostly alone.
The Tiger, helped by the Hyena, managed to be elected as the ruler. The Hyena started thinking he was also the ruler because he was close to the Tiger. Such thoughts gave the Hyena confidence and imitated the Tiger's roar.
Others laughed, but it came out as the typical laugh of a Hyena. The Elephant watched the scene and rued his own days of glory. The Fox became restive as his wolf skin coat was also wearing off in patches.
The Tiger supported by the Hyena scraped through the election again. But it had sapped the Tiger's strength.
The Hyena thought it was the right time to strike a clever deal to become a king of the jungle. It went up to the Tiger and said, 'Friend, I have helped you all along to be the King. Now I also want to be the king, at least for half the term.'
The Tiger couldn't believe his ears. 'Of course, I will give you some more of the spoils of my kills. But making you a king? No way,' the Tiger spoke in a gruff voice.
The Hyena was not amused. 'You think you are the only tiger. I am also one. Look at my stripes if you have any doubts,'he roared.
The irritated Tiger said, 'I'll give you more than a share of spoils, but king? I say No for the last time' and went back to sleep.
The Hyena showed its teeth to scare the Tiger, threw temper tantrums, screamed and hurled abuses and rolled on the grass. The Tiger just ignored it.
The Hyena ran to the Fox. 'Dear Fox, we live in the same jungle and the arrogance of the Tiger has become too much. Without my help he cannot rule and he does not seem to care about it. I want to be the king, don't you think it I deserve it after all these years of service in the jungle? Will you help me? You are a clever and wily one. You can persuade the Elephant to help me to get rid of the arrogant Tiger.'
The wily Fox looked at the Hyena with some amusement. He could not believe the Hyena really believed in his spiel of becoming a king. So he decided it was a good opportunity to weaken the Tiger and Hyena in one stroke and make his own bid to become king.
The Fox replied, 'My dear Hyena, I understand your desire to be the King. After all, you are as good as the Tiger as you are also striped. I will talk to the Elephant. But he would want you to cut off your friendship with the Tiger and come over to our side first. You do that and I will marshal our support for you. You also talk the Elephant as courtesy demands it."
The Hyena jumped in joy, ran to the Tiger, bared its teeth and said, "You betrayed your lifelong friend. Now I am fed up with your ungratefulness. So goodbye, I am no more friend." It jauntily walked out of the Tiger's territory."
The Hyena ran to the smiling Buddha. 'Oh mighty Buddha, you must agree to make me the king now the Tiger is not fit to be king without my help.'
The Buddha smiled and said, 'Go to your friends and get their letter of support by tonight.'
The Hyena ran happily and got the Fox's letter of support. The Hyena went near the Elephant and asked for a letter of support. The Elephant waved its back and nodded its head. The Hyena was thrilled.
By night fall, the Hyena ran to the Buddha and handed over the letter from the Fox. 'Sir, I am waiting for the letter of support from Elephant which has promised to do so.'
The Buddha refused to accept the Hyena's word. 'My word is the writ here. You have failed to satisfy the conditions for nominating you. So I consign you to the wilderness. I am giving a chance to the Fox to become king.'
The Hyena, crestfallen, was shocked into silence.
The Hyena saw the jaunty Fox approaching the Buddha. The Fox ignored the Hyena remembering the wise counsel of the old Elephant.
'The Tiger and the Fox are two peas in a pod. Divide them first. I cannot support the Hyena.'
The Hyena, all alone now, gazed at the twinkling stars above and the dark jungle below. 'I am all alone in my own jungle.' The thought choked its howl in despair.
The moral of the story is stripes alone don't make the Hyena a Tiger.
Colonel R Hariharan, a retired military intelligence analyst, served as the executive director of the Madras Management Association. He has been a corporate trainer for more than a decade.