There is an Arabic version of a lost original of the ‘Panchatantra’, a Sanskrit collection of fables. ‘Pilpay’, or ‘Bidpai’, is a corruption of ‘Bidpah’, the name given to the chief scholar at the court of an Indian prince who is said to have first related the fables to his master. The stories are the source of much European folklore.
The Brahman and his Faithful Ichneumon
From the ‘Hitopadeça’: An Example of the Evils of Rashness by Vishnu Sharma (Pilpay)
In Ujjain lived a brahman named Madhava, whose wife once left him in charge of their little child and went to bathe. Now an invitation came from the King for the brahman to perform a funeral oblation and partake of the funeral meal. At which news the poor fellow bethought himself: “If I go not quickly, then some one else will receive the funeral meal. For ’tis said:—
‘Hast aught to give, or aught to take or do,
Give, take it, do it, quickly, ere the morrow rise;
Or else thy sloth full bitter shalt thou rue,
And ruthless Time shall suck the juice from thy emprise.’
But there is no one here to take care of the child. What then shall I do? Hold! I have here an ichneumon [a mongoose], which I have kept this long time and cared for as if he were my son: I will leave him to take care of the babe, and go.” And so doing, he went.
Meantime there came near the child a black cobra; which when the ichneumon saw, he killed it and tore it in pieces. Then, with blood-smeared snout and paws, he ran to meet the brahman as he was returning home, and fawned at his feet. But the brahman, seeing the ichneumon in that plight, came rashly to the conclusion that the beast had eaten his child; and forthwith killed the ichneumon. Then when he came nigh and looked, behold, his child was asleep and the cobra slain. Then he saw that the ichneumon had done him a service, and sorrowfully recognizing the rashness of his deed, he was filled with despair.
Edward Williams, (Iolo Morganwg) who had a manuscript version of the ‘man who killed his greyhound’, known as the Abergarwan version, knew of this story, as shown in a letter he wrote in 1800
In the Heetopadees the fable of the ‘Bramin and the jihneumon, is precisely the same as that of Y Gwr a lladod ei filgi [The man who killed his greyhound].
He might have known of it from The Brahman and his Weasel see Wilkins (trans.) The Heetopades of Veshnoo-sarma, (1787), pp. 277-279
Letter from Iolo Morganwg to Owen Jones (Owen Myfyr), 17.6.1800, Jenkins, Geraint H. et al, The Correspondence of Iolo Morganwg, vol. 2, 1797-1809, (University of Wales Press, 2007), pp. 288-289
Lanman, Charles Rockwell, A Sankrit Reader, Text and Vocabulary and Notes, (Havard, 1963), p. 44 no XXI, in Sanskrit; [notes with translation into Welsh] p. 331