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The Story of the Potter

(Story found in:  Franklin Edgerton's reconstruction Durgasimha's Kannada translation Purnabhadra's recension Hitopadesha by Narayana )

Yudhisthira was the name of a poor potter who lived in a certain kingdom.
 
One night, when he was returning after drinking more than he should, he stumbled and fell over some pots. When he got up, he saw blood was oozing out of his forehead. There was a deep cut due to a broken piece of pot.
 
Poor that he was, he did not go apply any medicine on his wound, which is the reason that the wound did not heal for a long time. After a long time, the wound finally healed by itself, but it left a big scar on his forehead.
 
Soon afterwards, there was a famine in the country, and he decided to leave his place and travel to another part of the country. On his way, he joined a group of people, who served at the royal household. Along with them, he started serving at the royal household.
 
One day, the king noticed the big scar on his forehead and thought, "This man must be a great warrior. The scar on his forehead is evident that he has received such wound in some battle. He must be very brave."
 
Thus, the king promoted him as a warrior and he was honoured with a place amongst the best warriors of the kingdom.
 
The other household workers knew that he was no warrior, and became jealous of the fact that the king favoured him, although he did not deserve it rightly.
 
Soonafter, a battle was impending and the king summoned all his warriors. He wanted to speak to all the great warriors personally and gift them with precious items as an encouragement. The king addressed the soldiers with encouraging words and inspected the equipments, and weapons, and even the elephants and horses.
 
On the other hand, the potter was no real warrior, and he feared going into the battleground. All the preparations for battle made him tense. But he was resolved to prove himself as a warrior in the battleground.
 
While inspecting, the king noticed the potter. He took him aside and asked, "O Warrior, fighting which battle did you get this deadly scar?"
 
The potter replied, "O king, this scar was not caused by any wound by any sword. Being a potter by profession myself, my home was full of pots. One night, I tripped after drinking more than I should have, I tripped over them that caused this wound. Due to improper attention, the wound left this big scar."
 
When the king heard the truth, he felt embarrassed for his earlier decision. He asked his soldiers, "He is a potter, who has deceived me by pretending to be a warrior. Drive him away from the army!"
 
The potter fell on his knees, and pleaded to the king, "O King, please do not do this. Have mercy on me, for I am sure I will be able to prove my bravery on the battleground. Please give me a chance to prove my worth."
 
The king replied, "You may have excellent qualities, and you may be brave. But you do not possess the qualities required on the battleground. When the other warriors will come to know that you are only a potter, they will ridicule you. You will get yourself killed on the battleground! It is better if you leave, and return to your home."
 
The potter understood the king's advice, and left the palace immediately.
 
The wise indeed say:
Continue being what you are, else you pay for it.
 
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