The hare runs swiftly, but is over-confident of himself. So sure is he that the tortoise can never overtake him, that he decides to take a nap midway through the race. He later wakes up to find that the tortoise has won the race.
Even though the hare has the ability to win, he loses the race because he does not make the effort to win.
In an earlier post we saw a similar sentiment expressed in this Subhaashit-
उद्यमेन हि सिध्यन्ति कार्याणि न मनोरथैः l(If any work is to be accomplished, strong efforts are required.(We cannot achieve an aim) merely by desiring its completion.
न हि सुप्तस्य सिंहस्य प्रविशन्ति मुखे मृगाः ll
Prey will not enter a sleeping lion's mouth on their own. )
The following Subhaashit too, extols the benefits of steady efforts.
योजनानां सहस्रं तु शनैर्गच्छेत् पिपीलिका lThe (lowly) ant (पिपीलिका) may walk slowly (शनैर्गच्छेत्), but it covers thousands of miles (योजनानां सहस्रं).
अगच्छन् वैनतेयोऽपि पदमेकं न गच्छति ll
But even (if he is capable) an immobile eagle (अगच्छन् वैनतेयोऽपि) will not travel (न गच्छति) even a step (पदमेकं).
[ one Yojana (योजन) is approx. 9 miles].
The ant has both determination and the will to make steady efforts. That is why despite being very small, it is able to travel long distances.
वैनतेय (Vainateya) is the powerful eagle mentioned in the Mahabharata- son of Kasyapa Rishi and Vinata.
The eagle is a symbol of speed and energy. However if he does not exert himself, the eagle will stay where he is and not advance even a step forward.
Mere capacity for valour or strength is meaningless if efforts are not simultaneously made.