There lived a lion called Vajradaunstra in the jungle, who had two attendants, a jackal and a wolf.
One day a caravan was passing by, and one of the camels in the caravan was an expectant female. As she was not able to walk, and was in labour pains, the caravan set her free and left her behind.
Within moments, she fell prey to the lion, and while the three of them were eating. They cut the womb of the camel, from which a baby camel came out.
Since, it was just a baby, and they already had a good meal out of the camel, the lion decided to spare the baby camel’s life. He brought the baby camel home.
The lion said to the little camel, “From now onwards you will live with us, and will have nothing to fear from, even me. I will let everybody know that you are under my protection, and you can wander about fearlessly and feed on the green grass of the jungle.”
From then onwards, they lived happily. The four of them would tell each other stories, and the camel was always found along with the lion.
One day, the lion returned home badly injured after a fight with a wild elephant. He was unable to even walk, let alone go out and hunt.
Unable to bear the hunger, he asked the camel, jackal and the wolf to go in search of some small animal that he will be able to kill, even in his condition. Thus, the hunger for all three of them would be satisfied. But the three of them returned empty-handed in the evening, even after their efforts to search for an animal.
The jackal began wondering in hunger, “The young camel does not belong amongst us, and he will be able to provide food for many days. But, I have to be cunning to convince the lion to kill him, as he has promised not to harm him.”
He said to the camel, “Our master will soon die of hunger, and so will we. I and the wolf will die of starvation, and some other animal will prey on you after they know that there is nobody to protect you anymore. I suggest you must offer yourself to the lion, and save us from dying. For your sacrifice, you will be reborn in a body twice the size of what you have in this life!”
The young camel agreed immediately, “Had it not been for the lion, I would have been dead long ago. I shall be rewarded hundred-times for my sacrifice, and find a place in heaven. I agree to offer my body.”
In the evening, the jackal said to the lion, that the camel will be blessed with twice the size of the body in his next birth, if he killed him and worshipped God before eating him. He explained that the camel was willing to offer his body for this sacrifice.
The lion was convinced by the cunning jackal and he agreed. As soon the jackal was able to convince him, he jumped on the young camel and tore him apart. The young camel died instantly.
The lion remembered that he must worship before eating for the young camel’s next life and asked the jackal and wolf to guard over the carcass, while he returned. He then went for a bath and worshiped the gods.
When the lion was gone, the jackal thought, “How can I fool the lion and have the entire camel for myself?”
He thought of a plan, and called out to the wolf, “Hey wolf! I know you are unable to tolerate the hunger anymore. Eat a mouthful of the camel’s flesh and I will convince the lion by making up a story.”
The wolf started eating some, believing the jackal’s words. Just then the jackal alerted, “Here comes the lion, stop eating now!”
When the lion returned, the wolf had stopped eating. But the lion noticed that his food had been contaminated. He roared in anger, “How is it that my food is contaminated despite it being guarded by the two of you?”
The jackal smiled at the wolf, “I advised you not to eat, but you would not listen. You could not tolerate your hunger and wait for the king’s return! You should be ashamed of yourself!”
The lion noticed the blood on the wolf’s paw, and attacked it. The wolf, realizing that he would die if he did not flee, ran for his life to never return again.
At the very moment a very big caravan approached. The camels in the caravan had large bells around their necks, and the jingling sound could be heard from a distance. The lion was surprised by the unusual and terrifying noise and wanted to know what made the noise.
At once, the jackal used it as an opportunity. He said, “O Master, it is the same caravan returning. Only this time, it is led by Yama (God of death). He must be very angry on you for killing the camel before the hour appointed for his death. Look, he even brings the camels forefathers and relatives to avenge his death. I suggest you should run away from here.”
The lion believed him and was frightened. When he saw the caravan approaching, with so many camels, he ran for his life.
When the jackal had finally gotten rid of the lion, he ate the camel’s flesh all by himself. It lasted many days.
Moral: Spurn the company of the wicked; else you will come to grief.