22. Story of an ass in a tiger's skin
The Guru, finding it
useless to argue any further with men who were mentally so low, changed the
topic of the discourse and turned to the monstrous gathering of the
disciples to whom his mere look was life and his mere word law and in an
impressive sermon prepared them for the coming struggle.
Little did the hill
Rajputs who boasted their high lineage think that the time was not very
distant when the very same low-caste Jats, whom they so openly discarded and
for reclaiming whom they harboured sinister motives against .the Guru, would
shed their blood to chastise their Moslem oppressors, would rescue their men
and women from infamy, and would make the desecration of their temples and
the breaking of their idols a thing of the past !
Little did they know
that not a century would elapse before these low-castes would rule over
them; may would even employ them.as their gate-keepers and orderlies. One
day when the Guru went out for shikar he bagged a large tiger. An ass was
dressed in the skin of this tiger and let free to roam about in the fields.
For several days the ass freely grazed in the extensive farms and grew fat.
The farmers believing him to be a real tiger dared not go near him.
Once in the course of
his wanderings the ass thought of paying a visit to the house of his master
who was a washerman. It was twilight. Men were returning to their homes
after the day's work. Shops and places of business were about to ha closed.
The sight of the ass, in the tiger's garb, as he sauntered along the
streets, inspired terror in-the minds of the people who fled for their lives
in all directions.
The ass, however,
took no notice of the agitation his presence in the village had caused and
went straight to the washerman's house. The women and children of the house
ran upstairs and shrieked for help. Meantime the washerman returned from
work. He, too, was at first alarmed on seeing the brute ; but noticing that
the animal quietly grazed he felt emboldened to go a little nearer. On
seeing his old master the ass brayed in way of recognition. Forthwith the
washerman took a club and gave him a good beating. "
Vicious bruta," said
he, why and where didst thou keep away so long ? I see thou hast grown fat.
I shall place double load on thee henceforth." When it was made known in the
village that the brute that had caused so much fright to the entire
population was only an ass there was great uproar and laughter. People
cursed themselves for having been so easily befooled and many were the men
who regretted that they should have failed to approach the brute and
administer him kicks to their heart's satisfaction.
Next morning the Guru
related the last night's incident to the disciples in the audience hall. The
moral of the story, said he, was evident. So long as the ass kept aloof from
his past company the tiger's skin protected him from insults and enabled him
to graze unmolested wherever it so pleased him. He was, further, feared by
both man and beast who all fled at the very sight of him.
But he was, after
all, an ass. The tiger's skin aided him teni13orarily but could not make a
veritable tiger of him. Similarly those who assumed Sikh forms without
imbibing Sikh spirit resembled the donkey with the tiger's skin. They might,
for a time, deceive people and obtain temporary distinction ; but their
exposure was inevitable, sooner or later, and they would not fare better
than the donkey of the story.