Karalakesara was a lion, who was constantly accompanied by a jackal, as his attendant.
One day, the lion was severely wounded in a fierce battle with an elephant. He could not walk properly, let alone hunt for prey. As a result, the jackal had no food either.
As days went by, without food, the jackal said, “O Master, I am not being able to serve you because I am too weak. I have not eaten for several days.”
The lion replied, “O Jackal, please find an animal that I can kill even in my present weakness. Otherwise, we will both die of starvation.”
Thus, the jackal went out of the cave in search of food. He wandered in a jungle and reached close to a village. He noticed a donkey from the village had strayed into the borders of the jungle to eat green grass.
The jackal greeted the donkey warmly, “Greetings uncle! I see you gave grown thin and look tired. Why is that so?”
The donkey replied, “I have a cruel master! He would make me work the entire day with heavy burdens, and hardly provide me a handful of green grass. Although there is danger here, I could not stop myself from grazing in these green grasses.”
The jackal replied, “Uncle! Come with me! Deep inside the jungle, my master protects all animals from the cruelty of humans. There are green grasses all around that shines like emerald. You can finally lead a relaxing life!”
Enticed in this manner, the donkey believed the jackal and followed him to the lion’s cave. The lion on the other hand, saw the jackal bring a donkey with him; he was too delighted to wait for them to come closer and jumped on the donkey. The lion had grown weaker than he could have anticipated himself, and missed the donkey.
The lion fell on the ground near the donkey. When the donkey saw this, he ran as fast as he could, to save his life.
The lion was ashamed of his actions, and the jackal said, “Today, even a donkey can escape from you! I will try to bring him back. But this time, please wait for us to come closer. You are not strong to jump much distance now”
Saying thus, the jackal ran after the donkey. Knowing the ways of the jungle, he was able to overtake him and stop him on the way.
The donkey said, “Some nice place you took me to! You took me to the very jaws of death. What animal was it, which tried to jump on me?”
The jackal at once replied, “O Uncle, you ran because you misunderstood! It was a female donkey who wanted to embrace you! She had not seen a male donkey for years, and could not stop herself from jumping on you.”
The jackal continued, “If it was any other animal, a lion or a tiger, would he have missed you? Could you be able to escape from him?”
The donkey was thus coaxed by the jackal once more, and followed him back to the lion’s cave. This time, however, the lion made no mistake and attacked only once he was sure. The donkey met his death.
But, the lion grew tired, as he was very weak. He asked the jackal to guard over the carcass till he arrived back from the river to take a bath and drink some water.
The jackal, on the other hand, could not bear the hunger anymore. He had not eaten for several days, and he had food spread right before his eyes. Out of hunger, he ate the donkey’s brain.
When the lion returned, and saw that the donkey’s brain was missing, he got angry. He asked the jackal to explain how his food had been contaminated.
The jackal replied, “Please master, don’t be angry. This donkey had no brain at all! If he had any brain, would he come back to you, after you attacked him?”
The lion was satisfied with the reply, and the both of them finally had a good meal after several days.