Stand United

Text by Anil Chitrakar

Our heritage consists of a rich oral tradition that captures fascinating stories that seem to be relevant for all generations. At times like this, stories that highlight the importance of unity must be retold again and again till we are heard. The Pancha Tantra and Jataka stories are great sources for these insightful tales that allow us to convey deep messages without hurting people’s ego. There is a lot of ego around these days.

The first story is of a group of young boys who go to the “wise man” to ask for help to settle their dispute. After listening to them, the “wise man” picks up a stick and asks them to break it. This is easily achieved. He then takes a whole bunch of sticks, holds them in a bundle and then asks the boys to break it. This time as much as they try, the bundle of sticks would not break. The boys thank the “wise man” and leave having learnt a valuable lesson.

The second is a story about a colony of frogs that used to live in a water hole. The leader is really tired of all the infighting and quarrels that he has to resolve all the time. Seeing how frustrated the frog leader was, a snake that lived nearby made a proposal, “You point out the ones that give you trouble and I will take care of them.” The frog leader lives in peace for a while as the snake “took care” of the trouble makers. As the story goes, the frog population dwindled to a point where he was alone. The snake finally ate him up as well
During the period in Nepali history when the Malla rulers of the valley were going out of the way to build bigger and more beautiful palaces and temples, it seems not just kings and artists were busy. Spies and secret agents were also in great demand. They specialized in innovative ways to out wit the agents of the other city kingdoms. There is a story related to the three stone pillars at the Patan Durbar Square. One carries the gilded statue of Yognarendra Malla paying homage to the Teledega dated 1694 AD. The other two are in front of the Krishna Mandir and Bhimsen temple just a few meters away. As the story goes, the three pillars were actually one tall pillar and was so magnificent it was the talk of the kingdom. Something had to be done about it; and so an agent was hired whose sole job was to go to Patan each day and put his ears to the stone pillar, tap it with his knuckles and listen carefully.

This routine was repeated each day. The people and King began to slowly take notice of this daily routine and one day the king ordered the ‘agent’ to be caught and brought into the palace. In response to the king’s query as to why he came each day to tap the pillar and listen, the ‘agent’ said he was really concerned as a stone ‘expert’ that the pillar was rotting on the inside and did not want to see any accident that would discredit the great king’s name. The king did not want the pillar to fall and hurt anyone either. He consulted his “advisors” and decided to cut it into three pieces. The valley kingdoms fell to the Gorkhalis in 1769.