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Alter-ego can alter life

Alter-ego can alter life

This belittling trait in human behaviour which bedevils one’s ego has been encapsulated in an endearing story in the 'Hitopadesha', written by Narayan Panditha.

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Last Updated : 21 April 2024, 20:47 IST
Last Updated : 21 April 2024, 20:47 IST
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Sometimes we come across people with dominant alter egos. They usually think that they are a cut above the rest. They are tolerated till the self-distinguished personality starts denigrating others to establish his or her one-upmanship. 

This belittling trait in human behaviour which bedevils one’s ego has been encapsulated in an endearing story in the Hitopadesha, written by Narayan Panditha.

Once a jackal wandered into a village late in the night. He stumbled into a huge vat of dye. He paddled around frantically but could not heave himself out of the tub. At the crack of dawn, the owner of the indigo dye arrived. The jackal sighted him. He pretended to be dead and stayed afloat. The man was disgusted at the sight of a dead animal. He grabbed the body and flung it afar.

 The relieved jackal scooted away to the nearest pond to wash himself. When he saw his reflection in the water, he liked his attractive azure appearance. He sauntered into the jungle as all the animals gathered to see him. He drew himself up and told them that he had been consecrated as their king by the goddess of the forest. The animals took him at face value and respected him accordingly.

After a few days, the jackals noticed that their king joined them in their nightly howling sessions, albeit from afar. They realised that he was one of them. However, the canine looked upon them with disdain. Therefore, his clan invited the other creatures of the jungle to observe the nocturnal phenomenon. Soon the quaint king was exposed and met his death at the hands of his brethren.

The jackal could have been happy and grateful to have escaped alive from the vat of dye and led a normal life. However, he chose to cash in on his coloured skin and try his luck out as a king. He could have retained his royal status had he not disparaged and disrespected his fellow canines.  

The jackal in the story was given many chances in life which he failed to utilise. Instead, he chose to channelize his energy in presenting himself as his alter ego. In the bargain, he lost his life because he refused to accept the truth about himself!

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