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Divide and Rule
|by Ramendra Kumar|
On the foothills of Nalanda mountain range were two forests divided by a river. The forest Ahimsa was ruled by an elephant called Gajraj. All the animals and bird living in this forest were herbivores. The other forest across the river was Himsa and was ruled by a lion called Babbar. The animals and birds in this forest were carnivores.
In olden days Himsa and Ahimsa were perpetually at war. There was constant fighting between the two. But with Gajraj and Babbar ascending the throne a truce had been called. However both the kingdoms were wary of each other and maintained a careful distance.
One day Gajraj was holding court when there was a sudden commotion. He saw his defence minister - Kaalu, the Gorilla, dragging a strange looking animal.
" What is happening Kaalu? Who is this animal?"
"I don't know. I found it lying on the banks of the river. Its eyes were closed. When I threw water on the animal's face and shook it a bit, it opened its eyes, looked around and then fell asleep again. I decided to drag it here for you to see."
Gajraj turned to his health minister Chabili, the deer. "Chabili why don't you use your skills and try to bring him to life."
Chabili walked to one corner, plucked a few leaves and walked upto the animal. She placed the leaves under its nose. The creature sneezed, opened its eyes and looked around.
"Who are you?" Gajraj asked.
All the animals started laughing.
"I don't mean powerful in terms of brute force. I was talking about the power of knowledge, the power of intellect. Man is the most intelligent creature and that makes him the most powerful."
Manav thought for a moment and then nodded his head.
Very soon Manav got used to living in Ahimsa. Most of the animals were gentle and kind to him. He was a smooth and pleasant talker and soon became very popular with the Ahimsites. Every evening in Gajraj's court, after the animals had all completed their dinner, Manav would entertain them with tales of human beings - their loves and their lives.
One day he went to Gajraj and said, "O' king during my stay here I have come to know that in Ahimsa there is a large lake which has millions of fish of every variety."
The next day things went exactly the way Manav had planned. He took a ride on Hippo across the river Shilpi. Mid-way he was accosted by Babbar's Information Minister Cheel, the eagle. Manav explained the purpose of his visit to Cheel. Soon he was sitting in front of Babbar surrounded by Ahimsites.
Babbar quite liked the idea of the barter trade. Manav finalised the terms and conditions of the deal and a week later the trade commenced under his direct supervision.
Manav soon became a good friend of the Himsites too. Whenever there was festivity in Himsa he would be invited. Manav would regale the Himsites with his stock of stories concerning humans.
Within a couple of months Manav had won the confidence of Babbar. One evening when Babbar was alone, Manav went to him.
"You know o' king, I think you are too simple a person."
Manav leaned closer and began whispering in his ear.
"Gajraj, I am just coming from Himsa. Babbar sends you his regards."
On full moon night all the animals of Ahimsa gathered in the court of their king to take part in the celebrations. Manav had composed a song in honour of Gajraj. He and 'Surili' the cuckoo sang while Hippo and Kaalu played the drums. Soon the spirit of celebration caught on and many of smaller animals started dancing.
An hour later Gajraj asked Manav, "What happened to Babbar and his gang? Have they forgotten?"
"Let me check," Manav said and sped away.
He returned half an hour later and announced. "I met Cheel on the way. Babbar had sent him to apologise for the delay. He has requested you to continue with the celebration and not wait for him. He will be reaching shortly with his team. I think they have been delayed because they have not been able to decide what birthday gift to give you."
"Is it? How considerate of them to take so much trouble over me."
"O' king I feel all the animals are getting impatient to drink the 'Somras' which I have prepared. I think it should now be served," suggested Manav.
"But what about Babbar? Will he not mind?"
"No why should he? He has already conveyed that you should not wait for him. Moreover, if you store Somras for a long time it will taste bitter. We will have to throw it and all my efforts will go waste. The Ahimsites can drink what we have and for the Himsites I'll quickly prepare some more after they come."
Gajraj agreed and Somras was served to the thirsty animals and birds. It was a heady concoction which Manav had made from toddy. He had made the drink so strong that even a few gulps would intoxicate. As the animals drank the delicious drink greedily it began to have an immediate effect on them. Soon some of them began dancing and singing wildly while others started feeling drowsy.
Manav, who hadn't taken a drop was in complete control of his senses. He waited for sometime and then quietly slipped away.
He went to the river bank where Cheel was waiting. He spoke to Cheel who sped away. A little later Babbar and his gang crossed over. Manav took them to the clearing were Ahimsites were busy in their drunken revelry.
Gajraj saw Babbar and unsteadily got to his feet.
"Babbar, my dear friend, welcome to Ahimsa."
Babbar uttered a menacing growl and sprang on Gajraj. The other Himsites followed suit.
By the time it was morning Ahimsa was captured by Babbar.
"Manav as promised I make you the Chief of Ahimsa. You will report to me and I will be the Emperor of Both Himsa and Ahimsa," declared Babbar.
Manav began ruling Ahimsa with an iron hand. He raised an army comprising animals from Himsa who were loyal to him. The captured animals of Ahimsa were made his slaves. He even sent his army to hunt for Gajraj but the former king of Ahimsa could not be traced.
During his regular visits to Himsa he made efforts to find out the animals who were unhappy with Babbar. He found that most of the Himisites treated Babbar with love and respect. Chatur the cheeta however was unhappy. He had wanted to become the defence minister. Instead Babbar had given him the rather unimportant portfolio of Health and made Bhaloo the bear incharge of defence.
Chatur, because of his speed and and strength, commanded a lot respect and a loyal following. Manav felt if he could get Chatur and his group on his side then, with help of Chatur's faithful band, he would be able to stage a coup and overthrow Babbar.
Manav's ambition was to become the Emperor of both Ahimsa and Himsa. After which he would send Cheel and other birds in different directions to find out how far he was from civilisation and where exaclty Ahimsa and Himsa were located. Once he had this information, he would be able to find his way back to his country. Later, he would return with reinforcements and capture all the animals of Himsa and Ahimsa. The two kingdoms had very rare species of animals and birds. He would open his own private zoo, display the animals in it and earn millions of rupees.
Manav decided to approach Chatur directly and offer to make him the Deputy Emperor of both Ahimsa and Himsa.
In the meanwhile Gajraj and his band of loyal supporters were in a pitiable condition. They had managed to escape to a remote corner of the jungle but life for them was real tough. Gajraj was completely shattered. He could not understand why Babbar had betrayed him. He was also unaware of Manav's treachery.
One day Tota, the parrot, brought another parrot to him.
"Sir, this is my brother Kittu. He left Ahimsa may moons ago to see the world. He went to our old kingdom but on not finding any of us there he searched all over and finally managed to locate us."
"O' Gajraj what is all this? When I left Ahimsa you were the king and Himsa and Ahimsa were living in peace."
"Yes, Kittu I know. I too am not able to understand what went suddenly wrong with Babbar."
"Sir from whatever little has been told to me, my first guess would be that this is the handiwork of a human being. During my travels I have had numerous occasions to see humans in action. They specialise in the art of divide and rule. Not only that, they are also ambitious and greedy. They can never be satisfied with what they have. In their own world they are continuously fighting over every little thing - whether it is land and language or women and wealth. They torture, maim and kill each other and also us animals, for the simplest of reasons. Man's very presence spells doom and disaster for animals. However, in this case my reasoning is obviously not true since how can any human reach here?"
"B...but Kittu one human being is very much here. His name is Manav. He was found lying on the banks of Shilpi many moons ago. He begged me for refuge and I gave him shelter. But... I don't see how he could be responsible for all this."
"Gajraj you are very naive. You do not know what humans are capable of. Anyway, you first tell me what happened from the moment Manav entered your court till the time you lost your kingdom. I'll then be able to tell you to whether or not Manav is responsible for the miserable state you are in."
Gajraj told him the whole story.
"I must grudgingly admit that Manav's plan was absolutely brilliant. Don't you realise that Babbar's move to seek permission to come to your party, his delay in reaching Ahimsa, the 'Somras' which Manav prepared and the final attack were all a part of Manav's strategy."
"But what did he have against me? After all I had given him shelter and looked after him so well."
"Nothing personally, I suppose. He must have bargained for a suitable prize from Babbar in return for his role in helping him destroy you. Gajraj, I think I'll quietly go to Ahimsa and snoop around. Let me find out where Manav is and what he is upto."
Three days later Kittu returned with a lot of information.
"Gajraj, my guess was right. The entire plan was hatched by Manav. And you know how Babbar has rewarded him? He has made Manav the king of Ahimsa."
"That wretched rogue. If ever I get my hands on Manav I'll smash his head and tear every limb of his."
"Easy, Gajraj. Right now you cannot do anything of that sort. Manav has become very powerful. He has built a strong, well knit army which is completely loyal to him. He has also become very ambitious. He is planning to wean away a section of Himsa. After which his strategy will be to attack and try to conquer Himsa. He aspires to become the Emperor of Ahimsa and Himsa."
"But will he able to divide the Himsites?"
"He is trying his best by offering all sorts of bribes. According to my information Chatur, the Cheetah is planning to shift loyalties. If there is a battle Chatur, I am sure will betray Babbar and support Manav."
"What do we do?"
"I'll go and meet Babbar and expose Manav."
"But will he believe you? "
Kittu thought for a moment and said, "I think you are right, he may not. I will first collect enough proof about Manav and Chatur and then go to him."
Kittu started shadowing Manav wherever he went. He made sure that he maintained a safe distance.
After ten days and nights of following Manav around, Kittu finally got what he had been looking for.
He heard Manav telling Chatur about his plans to capture Babbar.
"One week from today we will be completing one year since our victory over that fool Gajraj. On the first anniversary of our victory I want to hold a grand celebration. I will invite king Babbar as the Chief Guest. Chatur you make sure that only you and your trusted gang accompany him for the celebration. Once he reaches here we will capture him."
Chatur nodded his head. "But Manav don't forget your promise. You should make me the Deputy Emperor of Ahimsa and Himsa."
"Yes, ofcourse," Manav said.
Late in the night when the whole forest was asleep Kittu went to Babbar.
"O' great king Babbar," he called perched on the top of a tree."
"Who is it?" drawled Babbar.
"I am your well wisher - Kittu, the parrot."
"Are you an Ahimsite?"
"Yes, you can call me that."
"How is Manav? I have not seen him for a long time."
"He is fine. He is plotting to overthrow you."
"What?" Babbar said getting to his feet and peering at Kittu.
"Who are you? How dare you wake me up in the middle of the night and tell me silly stories?"
"I am a Ahimsite who left Ahimsa many years ago. I returned just a few days back. My family is with Gajraj."
"So that traitor has sent you to spy on me, is it? That is why you are talking nonsense against Manav."
"You are completely mistaken. And why are you calling Gajraj a traitor? It was you who betrayed him. He was welcoming you with open arms like an ideal host would greet a guest. And how did you respond? You attacked him. It was a very cowardly and treacherous thing to do?"
"How dare you call me a coward and accuse me of treachery. Manav told me that Gajraj was planning to overthrow me and usurp the kingdom of Himsa."
"Manav told you and you believed him. You are as gullible as Gajraj is. Both of you have been made complete fools by Manav. The story that Gajraj wanted to capture Himsa was concocted by Manav to incite you to attack Ahimsa. He made the two of you fight and in the process became the king of Ahimsa. Now he has already convinced Chatur to betray you. Manav's plan is to invite you for the first anniversary celebration of the victory of Himsa over Ahimsa. When you reach there with Chatur both of them will get together and capture you. Manav will become the Emperor of Ahimsa and Himsa and Chatur the Deputy Emperor."
"I don't believe you, Manav dare not and Chatur will not betray me."
"That is what you think. Okay you do one thing. When you receive Manav's invitation to join the celebration you tell Chatur that you will take all your Ministers. Chatur, I am sure, will plead that you only take him and his group. Once he does that, his intentions will be clear and you will know whether or not I am speaking the truth."
Babbar heard in silence. He was puzzled. He did not know whom to believe and whom not to.
A few days later Manav came to invite him for the celebration along with Chatur. After Manav had left, Babbar asked Chatur, "Who all do you think should accompany me?"
"Sir, I think I and a few others should accompany you."
"What about Bhaloo, Cheel and other Ministers."
"No, sir, I don't think it will be quite advisable to take them. Gajraj is very much around. He might use this opportunity to attack Himsa. In our absence atleast the other ministers will be there to defend."
Babbar was now convinced that what Kittu had told him was true. That night when Kittu came to meet him, Babbar told him about his conversation with Chatur.
"See Babbar, I told you. Manav and Chatur are conspiring to finish you."
"What do I do? Should I capture Chatur and attack Manav."
"No, that will be unwise. It will lead to unnecessary bloodshed. Why should innocent lives be lost because of the ambition of one scoundrel. One should fight only when all other options are closed. I feel the best thing would be to beat Manav at his own game."
"I have a plan....."
On the evening of the celebration as Chatur got ready to accompany Babbar, the Lion turned to him and said,"Chatur, I have decided that you will stay back. Cheel, Bhaloo and the other ministers will accompany me."
"B..but...I.." as Chatur started to protest Babbar thundered, "Arrest him."
Chatur was immediately taken into custody.
Babbar and his ministers crossed Shilpi and went straight to where Manav was staying. Manav was waiting with his army. He saw Babbar approaching and was ready to give the command for an attack when he stopped.
Chatur was missing.
Babbar saw him hesitate and shouted. "Why did you stop you scoundrel? Go ahead and attack. Oh! I forgot, you must be looking for that rascal Chatur. Well, he has been arrested and tonight he will be killed. And you traitor, you too will meet the same fate."
Babbar turned to his army and said, "Come on, capture Manav. I want him alive. But try not to hurt others. They are after all a part of our family. They are only obeying orders of this rogue Manav."
Manav backed away. He knew without Chatur his army would be no match for Babbar and his powerful followers.
He turned back and started running. The other animals were taken by surprise to see their leader scampering away from the action. They surrendered meekly to Babbar's army.
Meanwhile Manav who was running for his life suddenly stopped in his tracks. Gajraj was lumbering towards him followed by a group of animals.
"Oh My God! Where has this monster come from? Looks like I am trapped," he thought to himself.
"Manav, you traitor. You game is up. Wait till I catch you. I'll crush your head under my feet," Gajraj thundered moving towards him.
Manav did not know where to go. He closed his eyes and sank to the ground. Kaalu effortlessly picked him and tied him to a tree trunk.
Gajraj and Babbar embraced each other.
"I am sorry Gajraj, for attacking you," Babbar said.
"It was not entirely your fault, dear friend. You were misled by this rascal Manav."
"We should really thank Kittu for clearing the misunderstanding and uniting us again," Babbar said.
"It was nothing really. I was only doing my duty," Kittu who was standing close by said.
"What do we do with Manav," Kaalu asked.
"I want to tear his limbs," growled Babbar.
"I want to beat him to pulp," thundered Gajraj.
"I have a better idea. If we kill him, his suffering will end all too quickly. We should make him suffer," Kittu said.
"What do you suggest?"
"I do not know whether you are aware that the humans keep us animals and birds in captivity. We are put in cages in a place called a zoo. We are displayed for the amusement and fun of the humans. They come to see us, tease us, provoke us and generally enjoy at our expense. For Manav too we can build a cage. We will put him on display in the cage. The animals and birds of Himsa and Ahimsa can come to see him and enjoy his antics. The most important benefit of this plan will be that he will continue to remind us of our folly?"
"Yes, Manav will be a reminder as to how we let him divide and rule us. His presence will be a lesson to us to always be united."Kittu's suggestion was greeted with applause. A cage was built and Manav thrown into it.
Dear reader, even today if you happen to visit the forests on the foothills of Nalanda mountain you will see a human being inside a cage yelling for mercy. He is none other than Manav.
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