Once a farmer, while walking through a village, came across an iron cage containing a tiger that had been captured by some villagers. As the farmer passed by, the tiger called out to him and said, “O, brother! Have pity on me and let me out. I am very thirsty.”
The farmer said, “If I let you out of the cage, you will eat me.” The tiger replied, “I can never be so ungrateful. I promise I will drink some water and return to my cage.”
The farmer took pity on him and opened the cage door. Immediately, the tiger jumped out and said, “You foolish man! Now I will eat you!”
The farmer cried, “How could you be so ungrateful? I was the one who gave you freedom.” The tiger said, “You knew I was a tiger. What did you expect? For this you deserve to die.”
A sage, who was passing by heard the altercation between the man and the tiger and asked, “What are you two arguing about?” The farmer narrated the incident to him and asked him whether it was fair on the tiger's part to attack him thus.
The sage listened carefully and answered, “It is impossible for me to decide unless I know exactly where each of you were before this incident began.” The farmer said, “I was standing near the cage.” The sage asked, “Where was the tiger at that time?” “Inside the cage”, said the tiger. “Was the cage locked and bolted?” asked the sage. “Yes,” replied the tiger.
The sage looked at the cage for a moment and said, “How is it possible for a tiger your size to fit in such a small cage?” The tiger was in a hurry to get a decision from the sage, so he jumped back in the cage and said, “Like this!” The sage immediately locked the cage and said, “You wicked and ungrateful tiger, stay there for the rest of your days!”
The farmer was extremely grateful to the sage for saving his life and they both went their way, happily.
Moral: The tiger represents the six foes of a man (shadripu). If they are not kept under control they can destroy a man.