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Fickleness Of Power – Shanti Parva Of Mahabharata – Story Of Fox

Shanti Parva of Mahabharata emphasizes the transient nature of royal trust and the subject’s loyalty. Kings were often indiscreet, jealous and outright corrupt. Therefore, a warning was sounded for those who were near the throne through an anecdote.

Once there was fox, very much respected for his learning and honesty. The tiger, who was the king, impressed by his qualities appointed him as his minister. His influence grew, and along with it, the jealousy of others around the king. They falsely implicated him in a theft and persuaded the king to sentence Gomayu, the fox, to death. Fortunately, for the poor minister, some honest people convinced the king of the innocence of the minister, who was recalled and requested to resume his old position. Gomayu declined, saying that trust was like a jar, once it was broken, it could not be repaired. Thus saying he left the court.

Shanti Parva abounds in such anecdotes, illustrating the vagaries of contemporary political life. Bhishma exhorts Yudhisthira to be straightforward, truthful and eschew vicious addictions. “Truthfulness is the eternal dharma; truthfulness is the eternal Brahman; truthfulness is the greatest offering to God; everything is based on truthfulness.”