The pond was thus a safe place where all its inhabitants led their own quiet lives. The pond was not far from a nearby village. Every now and then, people would come from the village to the pond. Little boys would come over to swim in its calm waters. Sometimes, women would bring their laundry to wash in the pond.
It so happened that one day a couple of fishermen were passing by the pond. They had been fishing in another pond a few miles away. The pond caught their attention on their way home. The two of them had been talking about the pond. Said one to another, “This is a small pond. But, why don’t we dredge the pond and take what’s in it?”. “Not a bad idea”, said the other,” We may find at least a few fish and some crabs”.
Sahasrabuddhi, the fish had overheard this conversation. He was alarmed. He hurried swam down to Dharmabuddhi who was relaxing in the floor of the pond amidst some water plants. Dharmabuddhi was a fish who lived for the day. He did not think much about the future or anything else. He loved to feed and relax. He was also a bit lazy by nature.
When Sahasrabuddhi came down and narrated what he had just heard. He could scarcely contain himself. “Alas! We are doomed.” he cried,” We will be caught and cooked for food by those wicked men. We must leave this pond at once”. Dharmabuddhi, ever the lazy one, did not even move. “Perhaps, you did not hear them properly. Perhaps, they did not mean what they said”, he said with an air of dismissal.
Sahasrabuddhi tried to convince his friend by to no avail. Dharmabuddhi would not listen. “You can leave if you want. I am not coming. I know special tricky water movements with which I can fool the most expert of fishermen”, he bragged.
Saharasrabuddhi left his friend in the pond floor and rose to the surface. It was late in the evening. The sun was setting and the creatures of the pond were settling down for the night. He thought deeply of what he could do to save himself.
Suddenly, he remembered that the pond had a small channel which led to another pond a few hundred feet away. He had been there once a long time back. But the channel had water only when the level of water in the pond was high. He felt sad as he remembered this for it was almost summer. The pond level had been falling for quite some time. He went to sleep with a heavy heart.
The next morning, at the break of dawn, he went to see if the channel had water he could swim through. The water in the channel had been reduced to a trickle. He wondered if he would be able to escape. He was sad to leave his friend behind. He entered the channel and with great difficulty he managed to push himself through it. He was almost flat on his side. The sharp stones in the channel tore into his soft body. He went on for a long time. He was almost at the point of despair. He wondered if there was really water on the other side. Finally, he felt that he was going faster. The channel grew deeper and finally he was in the new pond. Sahasrabuddhi felt relieved. He was anxious about his friend and feared for his safety.
He was right. That very next day, the fishermen came to the pond with a few of their friends. They were carrying big nets with them. The cast the net on the pond and let it sink to the bottom. Dharmabuddhi was relaxing in his favorite haunt oblivious to the danger. He was startled to see the net fall around him. He looked for a way out but there was none. He also tried his tricky swimming movements he was so proud of. He was sure that he could slither out of the net’s reach. But they were of no avail. The net soon fell on him and he was entangled in its cords.
Soon, the fishermen began to lift the net. Dharmabuddhi regretted not listening to his friend. But, it was too late. He was drawn up along with the net and met his sad end.
Children, this story with a sad ending tells us to be alert to any signs of danger. When we hear of any threat we need to act quickly and save ourselves and others. If we are complacent and slothful, we will pay a heavy price.