Once there was a heron who lived by a pond. As he got older, he found a sneaky way to catch fish to eat. He started to act as if he didn’t want to eat even the fish that were close to him.
A crab from the pond noticed this and asked the heron why he wasn’t eating like usual. The heron tricked the crab by saying that he heard some fishermen talking about catching all the fish in the pond soon. This made the crab and all the other fish very scared.
The fish begged the heron to save them from the fishermen. The heron, pretending to be helpful, told them he could take them to a safer pond. The fish were so grateful and wanted the heron to take them first.
The heron was actually very happy with his plan. He started taking some fish from the pond, pretending to take them to the safe pond. But instead, he ate them on a rock nearby. He did this many times, and the fish kept trusting him.
One day, the crab asked the heron to take him to the safe pond too. The heron, wanting to try something different, agreed to take the crab. But as they flew, the crab noticed they weren’t heading towards water but to a big, hot rock.
The crab saw lots of fish bones on the rock and realized the heron had been tricking and eating the fish. The crab knew he had to act fast to save himself. He decided to grab the heron’s neck tightly with his claws before the heron could drop him on the rock.
The heron couldn’t escape from the crab’s strong grip and ended up getting his head cut off by the crab. The crab then slowly made his way back to the pond, carrying the heron’s neck. When he got back, he explained to the other fish how he had saved them from the tricky heron.
So, the crow-hen, hearing this story from the jackal, decided to use a similar trick to deal with the snake that was eating their chicks. She stole a golden chain and dropped it into the snake's home in the tree. When the people who owned the chain followed her, they found and killed the snake while getting their chain back.
The crow and his wife were finally able to live in peace without worrying about the snake.
The moral of "The Heron That Liked Crab-Meat" from the Panchatantra is about the dangers of greed and the consequences of deceit. In this story, the heron deceives the fish in the pond by pretending to be their well-wisher and promising to take them to a better pond, but instead, he eats them one by one. His greed and deception continue until he tries to trick a crab in the same manner. The crab, being more cautious and wise, ends up killing the heron when it realizes the heron's true intentions.
This tale teaches that excessive greed can lead to one's downfall and that deceitful behavior, even if it brings short-term gains, ultimately leads to negative consequences. It also highlights the importance of being cautious and not blindly trusting others, especially those who suddenly offer help without any apparent reason.