In a small town, there once lived four Brahmin scholars who were also great friends. Three of the scholars had spent years poring over every book in the land, so they were very clever indeed – there was not a subject that they had not mastered. The fourth scholar was not as well read as his three friends, but he had an abundance of common sense.
One day, when they were together the first of the scholars remarked to the others, “Though we have studied a lot and gathered so much knowledge. it’s of no use to us because we are stuck in this little town. Why don’t we set out to seek our fortune in foreign lands? If we go to the faraway courts of great kings, our wisdom will surely earn us fame and fortune.”
The other scholars immediately agreed with this, and they decided to set out on a journey to seek their fortune,
As they began preparations, the first of the three clever scholars whispered to the other two. “Why should we take along our fourth friend on this journey? All of you know that he does not have as much learning and wisdom as we have. All he has is common sense, which even ordinary folk have. If he comes with us, he will also have to be given a share of the great riches that we are going to earn. So why don’t we just leave him behind?”
“No! That would not be right,” replied one of the other two scholars. “He has been our friend for many years so it is only fair that we share our good fortune with him.”
The four scholars soon set out on their journey. As they crossed a dense jungle, they came across the skin and bones of a dead lion.
“Look!” said the first of the scholars excitedly. “Here’s the perfect opportunity for us to test the power of our great scholarship and learning. Let’s try and bring this dead creature back to life! I can put together its skeleton perfectly.”
“I can fill the skeleton with flesh and blood,” boasted the second scholar.
“I can breathe life into the creature’s body so that it becomes a living, breathing creature,” said the third scholar proudly.
The fourth scholar said nothing, but stared at his friends skeptically.
Soon the first scholar collected and assembled all the scattered bones of the lion and arranged them into a perfect skeleton. The second scholar stood over this very eagerly and covered it with flesh and muscle and skin.
Then, as the third scholar stepped forward to breathe life into the body of the lion, the fourth scholar who was full of common sense stepped forward. “Don’t bring this creature to life, my friend! He is a wild lion after all, and will pounce on us at once and kill us,” he said anxiously.
“Why you foolish fellow,” said the first scholar scornfully. “Your fears are not going to prevent us from using our great knowledge. We will bring this lion back to life.”
“Very well,” said the fourth scholar with a resigned shake of his head. “You can please yourself and do as you wish, but please wait till I’ve climbed a tree.”
He ran towards a tree and climbed it quickly and nimbly as his friends watched him and laughed contemptuously.
Then the third Brahmin scholar breathed life into the lion. The great beast stirred and awoke. Then, with a mighty roar, it leapt upon the three scholars and tore them to pieces.
As the fourth scholar watched from his perch high up in the tree, he wept for his lost friends. ‘I tried to warn them,’ he sobbed. ‘They lean late that plain common sense beats scholarly learning any day.’
-Inspired by Panchatantra