Category Archives: Animal stories

The White Elephant

Once upon a time, there lived a herd of eighty thousand elephants at the bottom of the majestic Himalayas. Their leader was a magnificent and rare white elephant who was an extremely kind-hearted soul. He greatly loved his mother who had grown blind and feeble and could not look out for herself.

Each day this white elephant would go deep into the forest in search of food. He would look for the best of wild fruit to send to his mother. But alas… his mother never received any. This was because his messengers would always eat them up themselves. Each night, when he returned home he would be surprised to hear that his mother had been starving all day. He was absolutely disgusted with his herd.

Then one day, he decided to leave them all behind and disappeared in the middle of the night along with his dear mother. He took her to Mount Candorana to live in a cave beside a beautiful lake that was covered by gorgeous pink lotuses.

It so happened that one day, when the white elephant was feeding he heard loud cries. A forester from Benaras had lost his way in the forest and was absolutely terrified. He had come to the area to visit relatives and could not find his way out.

On seeing this big white elephant he was even more terrified and ran as fast as he could. The elephant followed him and told him not to be afraid, as all he wanted to do was to help him. He asked the forester why he was crying so bitterly. The forester replied that he was crying because he had been roaming the forest for the past seven days and could not find his way out.

The elephant told him not to worry as he knew every inch of this forest and could take him to safety. He then lifted him on to his back and carried him to the edge of the forest from where the forester went on his merry way back to Benaras.

On reaching the city, he heard that King Brahmadutta’s personal elephant had just died and the King was looking for a new elephant. His heralds were roaming the city, announcing that any man who had seen or heard of an elephant fit for a King should come forward with the information.

The forester was very excited and immediately went up to the King and told him about the white elephant that he had seen on Mount Candorana. He told him that he had marked the way and would require the help of the elephant trainers in order to catch this fantastic elephant.

The King was quite pleased with the information and immediately despatched a number of soldiers and elephant trainers along with the forester. After travelling for many days, the group reached the lake besides which the elephants resided. They slowly creeped down to the edge of the lake and hid behind the bushes. The white elephant was collecting lotus shoots for his mother’s meal and could sense the presence of humans. When he looked up, he spotted the forester and realised that it was he who had led the King’s men to him. He was very upset at the ingratitude but decided that if he put up a struggle many of the men would be killed. And he was just too kind to hurt anyone. So he decided to go along with them to Benaras and then request the benevolent King to be set free.

That night when the white elephant did not return home, his mother was very worried. She had heard all the commotion outside and had guessed that the King’s men had taken away her son. She was scared that the King would ride him in to battle and her son would definitely be killed. She was also worried that there would be no one to look after her or even feed her, as she could not see. She just lay down and cried bitterly.

Meanwhile her son was led in to the beautiful city of Benaras where he was given a grand reception. The whole city was decorated and his own stable was gaily painted and covered with garlands of fragrant flowers. The trainers laid out a feast for their new state elephant who refused to touch a morsel. He did not respond to any kind of stimuli, be it the fragrant flowers or the beautiful and comfortable stable. He just sat there looking completely despondent.

The worried trainers went straight to report the situation to their King, as they were scared that the elephant would just waste away without any food or water. The King was extremely concerned when he heard what they had to say and went to the stable himself. He offered the elephant food from the royal table and asked him why he grieved in this manner. He thought that the elephant should be proud and honoured that he was chosen as the state elephant and would get the opportunity to serve his King.

But the white elephant replied that he would not eat a thing until he met his mother. So the King asked him where his mother was. The elephant replied that she was back home on Mount Candorana and must be worried and hungry as she was blind and had no one to feed her and take care of her. He was afraid that she would die.

The compassionate King was touched by the elephant’s story and asked him to return to his blind, old mother and take care of her as he had been doing all along. He set him free in love and kindness.

The happy elephant went running home as fast as he could. And he was relieved to find that his mother was still alive. He filled his trunk with water and poured it over his sick mother who thought that it was raining. Then she cried out as she thought that some evil spirit had come to harm her and wished and prayed that her son was there to save her.

The white elephant gently bent over his blind mother and stroked her lovingly. She immediately recognised his touch and was overjoyed. Her son lifted her up and told her that the kind and compassionate King of Benaras had set him free and he was here to love and look after his mother forever.

His mother was absolutely thrilled and blessed the kind King with peace, prosperity and joy till the end of his days. She was so thankful to him for sending her son back home.

The white elephant was able to take good care of his mother till the day she died. And when he died himself, the King erected a statue of him by the side of the lake and held an annual elephant festival there in memory of such a caring and noble soul.

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The Noble Stag

As we all know, King Brahmadutta of Benaras was extremely fond of hunting. Luckily for him, on the outskirts of the city was a huge forest filled with deer and a mighty stag.

One fine day, when he was out hunting, he warned his courtiers not to allow a single deer to escape or he would have them severely punished. So the courtiers formed a tight circle and decided to send the deer in the direction of the King. The courtiers surrounded a thicket and beat their sticks on the ground until they saw a stag escape. But as their circle was so tight the only escape route that the stag could see was towards the King who was standing alone at the end of the path.

So the stag looked him straight in the eye and made a dash towards him. The King was taken aback and shot an arrow towards him hurriedly. Of course it missed the mark. Now there is one thing that you must know about the stag. It has excellent instincts and is extremely good at dodging arrows, whether shot at from the back, front or even the top. If an arrow is aimed at its belly, it pretends to roll over and then jumps up and runs once the danger has passed.

So when this stag rolled over the King assumed that his arrow had found its mark. But the stag suddenly jumped up and shot passed the men. When the courtiers realised that the King had been mistaken they started to ridicule him.

Now the King thought himself to be an excellent marksman and could not bear the taunts of his men. He grabbed his sword and set off into the forest in order to catch the stag. He chased the stag for quite a while and covered a long distance.

The stag came upon a hole in the ground that was covered by a rotting tree and filled with slime. From a distance it could smell the dirty water and so was careful not to run over it. But the King could not sense the pit and fell right into it. After awhile the stag realised that he was not being followed any longer and realised that the King could have fallen into the pit.

So he went back to the pit and saw the King struggling for his life. He felt very sorry for him and decided to save his life even though the King was following him with the intention to kill him. He told the King not to worry and to be brave for awhile longer. He then caught a huge rock with his hind legs and lowered himself into the pit. The King caught hold of his neck and the stag climbed out onto the level ground and carried the King to safety.

The King thanked the noble stag profusely and asked him to return with him to Benaras, where he could rule beside him. But the stag had no interest in a kingdom and simply requested the king to rule his kingdom wisely and well, with kindness and compassion. And then the noble stag disappeared into the forest.

With a grateful heart the King returned to Benaras and announced that from this day on all his subjects were to live a life of goodness, kindness and generosity. That night he went to bed a changed man and woke up singing praises of the stag. When he was chanting the hymn in praise of the stag, his priest was approaching to check on the King’s well being. On hearing the hymn, he pieced the facts together and realised that the King had been saved by the stag.

He entered the King’s chamber and told him what had occurred on the previous day. The King was surprised and asked the priest whether he could read minds, but the priest answered that as he had heard the King singing he had managed to piece the facts together. The King was very impressed and gave him a big reward. He also promised to live a virtuous and generous life and give alms regularly to the poor. All his subjects also followed this good example set by the King and the city of Benaras witnessed a golden period.

All of a sudden there was an influx of good souls in heaven. Sakka, the King of heaven began to wonder where all these new sons and daughters were coming from. He then recalled the incident when King Brahmadutta’s life was transformed by the stag and realised that all his subjects had been transformed too. That explained the influx of good souls in heaven. Sakka now decided to test the goodness of the King. So he made himself invisible and came down to earth.

On that very morning the King was in the royal park with his priest and was doing his routine target practice. Just as the King was about to shoot the target, Sakka made a stag appear before the target and the King immediately put his bow and arrow down. Then Sakka spoke through the priest and encouraged the King to shoot the stag saying that his meat was very tasty and fit for the kings.

But the virtuous King refused to kill the stag saying that he had once saved his life and he would not perform such a dastardly deed. And then the priest said that if the King were to kill the stag he would be made king of gods. But if he did not do so, he would be sent to hell along with all his children and his queen.

But the virtuous King chose hell and sure death over hurting the beloved friend who had saved his life. Sakka was highly impressed and appeared in his real form to bless the King. He blessed him with a long life and happiness and promised him that when he came to heaven he would reign among the gods.

He said that after a long and wonderful rule on earth, heaven would be his final reward. Saying this, Sakka returned to his heavenly abode.

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The Great – Hearted Monkey

In a forest glade, by the side of River Ganges, high on the mountains there lived about eighty thousand monkeys along with their giant monkey king. And by the side of the clear gushing water stood a tall shady tree bearing big beautiful juicy golden fruits commonly called mangoes.

All the monkeys just loved these mangoes and ate them off almost as soon as they had ripened. Which was a very good thing as their wise giant king had warned them not to let a single juicy fruit fall into the river. Because if the current carried even one of these fruits down the river to the land where the men lived, they would surely come in search of this delicious fruit and destroy the peace in the land of the monkeys.

It so happened that a branch of this tree hung low over the river and a mango that was hidden behind an ant’s nest ripened and fell off without anyone’s knowledge. It was taken down south by the rapid flow of the river and reached the city of Benaras.

One fine morning when King Brahmadutta of Benaras was bathing in the river between two nets, a couple of fishermen found a bright golden fruit caught in the mesh of the net. Very excited they took it to show the King. The King examined the fruit carefully and asked where it had come from and what it was called. The fishermen did not know much about it but guessed that it must have flowed down the river from the valleys of the far-flung Himalayas.

He then asked them to cut the mango and tasted a slice. It was simply delicious. He shared the rest of it with his ministers and Queen who loved its divine flavour.

A few days passed, but the King could not get this exotic fruit out of his mind. He could not work; rest or sleep for want of some more. Finally he could bear it no longer and set sail in search of it. He organised a fleet of rafts and sailed up the river accompanied by his men and a few fishermen.

Many days and many nights went by and they passed many valleys until they finally came to the one where the mango tree stood. Mission accomplished, the King was delighted and began enjoying the mangoes to his heart’s content. Finally, that night, the King lay down to sleep under the mango tree while his faithful soldiers stood guard. Fires were lit on either side for protection against wild animals.

In the middle of the night when the guards had dozed off to sleep, the monkeys came and finished off all the mangoes that were left on the tree. The King awoke with all the noise and ordered his guards to shoot at the monkeys so that they could feast on monkey flesh along with the mangoes.

On hearing this, the monkeys trembled with fear and escaped to inform their King. They told him what had happened and he promised to save them. But for that he had to come up with a plan.

So he climbed up the tree and swung across the river with the help of a branch. He found a bamboo shoot which he measured and cut carefully, and then tied one end of it around his waist. The other end he tied around a tree trunk. He had decided to leap back to the mango tree and help the rest of the monkeys across over the bridge that he had made with the help of the bamboo shoot.

But alas… he had not taken into account the portion that he had tied around his waist. So when the monkey king sprang back into the mango grove he was just able to cling to a branch of the mango tree. He quickly summoned his monkeys to climb over his back and onto the reed in order to escape to the other side. In this way, eighty thousand monkeys climbed over his back one by one and made it to safety.

But unfortunately there was one evil monkey who hated his leader and wanted to destroy him. His name was Devadutta. This mean monkey purposely jumped hard over his poor king’s back and broke it, while he himself escaped to the other bank.

King Brahmadutta, who had been awake for awhile, had observed this whole episode. He felt extremely sorry for the monkey king and asked his men to help lower him to the ground. He then had him gently bathed and wrapped in a soft yellow cloth and asked him why he had sacrificed himself for his tribe. The great monkey answered that as he was their guide and chief, they were his children and it was his sacred duty to protect them. He had absolutely no regrets as he had ensured their safety. He also went on to say that the King should always be mindful of his subjects’ welfare even at the cost of his own. Saying this the monkey king died at peace with himself.

King Brahmadutta had learnt a great deal that day. He ordered his men to organise a funeral fit for a King. He then built a shrine in the monkey king’s memory where he offered flowers and lit candles and incense.

On returning to Benaras, he built another shrine there and asked his people to pay homage to this great soul. He always remembered the last words of the monkey king and ruled his subjects with wisdom and compassion. The people in his kingdom were eternally grateful to the great-hearted monkey.

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The Golden Goose

Once upon a time there lived a queen in the city of Benaras. Her name was Khema and she was the wife of King Bahuputtaka, which means ‘father of many sons’. One night, the Queen had a dream of a beautiful golden goose that spoke with great wisdom, almost as if he was a sage. She told her husband that she desperately wanted to see a bird just like the one that she had seen in her dream.

So the King asked his ministers to find out all that they could about a bird such as this. He was told that such a bird did exist but was extremely rare and difficult to find. They advised him to build a beautiful lake on the outskirts of Benaras so that he may attract such rare and lovely creatures to reside there. In this way the queen might have her wish.

Towards the north, on Mount Cittakuta, there lived about ninety thousand wild geese headed by a beautiful golden goose called King Dhatarattha. He got to hear of this exquisite lake that was surrounded by flowers and trees and had lovely water lilies and lotuses floating on the surface. The king had named this lake after his wife Khema and had invited all the birds to come and live on it, promising that none of them would ever be harmed. Corn was scattered on a daily basis in order to attract the birds.

So a couple of geese went up to their King and told him that they were quite tired of living up on the mountains and would like to see this wonderful lake where they had been promised food and protection.
The king agreed to their request and took the whole flock down south towards Benaras.

Meanwhile, at the lake the King had placed hunters all around in order to capture any golden goose that happened to pass by. So the next morning when the headhunter saw this flock of geese approaching he was very excited to see their golden leader. He immediately went about setting up a snare amongst the water lilies and lotuses, as he knew that the leader would definitely be the first to alight.

The whole flock came flying down in one mighty swoop and as expected it was the King’s foot that touched the water first. He was ensnared and could not escape. Seeing this the other geese flew into a panic and honked in distress. But none had the courage to try to free their king and so flew back to Mount Cittacuta for safety. All except one. He was the chief captain, Sumukha.

His King entreated him to fly to safety too, as he would surely be captured if he stayed by his side. But Sumukha replied that he would never desert his master in the face of danger and would either try to save him or die by his side.

At this point the head huntsman approached and as Sumukha saw him he decided to appeal to his compassion. The hunter asked the King how come he had not noticed the trap that was set. The golden goose replied that when one’s time was up it was no use to struggle against what was fated and one must just accept it. The huntsman was very impressed with his grace and wisdom. He then turned to Sumukha and asked why he had not fled with the other birds even though he was free to do so. Sumukha answered that this was his King, best friend and master and that he could never desert him even at the cost of his own life.

Hearing this the hunter realised that these were a couple of rare birds of great nobility. And were he to harm them, the gods would certainly punish him. Besides, he did not much care for his own King’s reward and decided to do the right thing and set them free. He told Sumukha that as he was ready to die for his King he would set them both free to fly wherever they may.

He then set loose the foot of the golden goose and washed the wound clean. And when he made an attempt to fix the dislocated muscle “lo behold”.. the foot was miraculously whole again as if it had never been hurt. Sumukha greatly blessed the hunter for his act of compassion and his King asked whether he had set the trap for himself or at someone else’s command. The hunter answered that he had done it on the orders of his own King. He then went on to narrate to them the whole story about the queen’s dream and her wish to see this rare golden goose.

On hearing this, the golden goose decided to go and meet the monarch, as he knew that the hunter would receive his reward. He had also heard about the wisdom and goodness of King Bahuputakka and thought that if he appeared out of his own free will, the monarch might allow him and his flock to come visit the lake. He therefore asked the hunter to take him to his King. The hunter advised him against it because he was worried that his monarch might imprison these two lovely creatures.

But the golden goose explained that just as they had been able to soften a hunter’s heart it should not be too difficult to do the same to a great and noble King. He asked him to do his duty and leave the rest to him.

So the hunter set out to go to the palace accompanied by these two noble, gorgeous creatures. Needless to say that the King and Queen were absolutely delighted to see these two beautiful birds. The King set them on a golden perch and fed them himself, with honey, grain and sweetened milk. Then he spent the whole night discussing kingship and all its duties with this King of Geese. The golden goose did his best to offer good advice and encouragement in accordance with his wisdom.

In the morning he thanked the King and Queen for their hospitality and friendship and flew back to his flock accompanied by his faithful friend and chief captain Sumukha.

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The Banyan Deer

In a forest, on the outskirts of Benaras, there lived a beautiful golden deer. He was called King Banyan Deer and was the leader of a herd of five hundred deer. Not very far off, in the same forest was King Branch Deer who was also the leader amongst another five hundred deer. He was also extremely beautiful with a coat of a shiny golden hue and sparkling eyes.

Outside this beautiful forest, in the real world, there reigned a King who loved to eat meat at every single meal. He was King Brahmadatta of Benaras. Not only was he fond of hunting, but he also enforced the same on his subjects. He forced them to leave their own businesses and join him regularly on his hunting spree each and every morning.

After awhile the villagers got sick of this regular routine as they had much better things to do with their lives. Besides, their work and means of livelihood had also begun to suffer. They realised that they must find a solution. Together they came up with a plan.

They decided to grow plants, sow crops and dig water holes in the royal park itself. Then they would drive a number of deer into the confines of the park and shut the gates. In this way the King could hunt at leisure and would not require any further help from his obedient subjects.

So at first they went about preparing the royal park for the deer. Then they went into the forest armed with weapons and sticks in order to drive the deer into the royal park. They surrounded the territories of both the herds, those of King Banyan Deer as well as King Branch Deer, and drove them into the royal park, with shouts of glee as they beat their sticks on the ground and waved them in the air. As soon as both the herds were in, the gates were shut and the deer entrapped.

They then went to their King and told him that as they could not accompany him any more on his hunts they had successfully managed to entrap a number of deer in the royal park for his royal pleasure. The King was absolutely thrilled when he set eyes on the great number of deer in the royal park.

While gazing at them his eyes fell on the two beautiful golden deer and he at once decided to spare their lives. He issued an order that they were not to be shot at any cost. Each day after that, either the King or one of his hunters would shoot arrows at the deer. The deer would scatter wildly in every direction and get hurt in the ensuing stampede. So one day King Banyan Deer and King Branch Deer put their heads together and came up with a plan. They realised that each day their herds were getting wounded in great numbers and some were getting killed. Even though death was inevitable they could at least try to save the living ones from unnecessary pain and torture.

So they decided to send a deer to the royal palace to be slaughtered and served to the king each and every day. The pact was to alternate between the two herds. In this way at least the rest of the deer would be spared unnecessary torture. This system continued for some time. Each day a deer was sent to the royal palace to be slaughtered by the royal cook. And the rest of the deer were allowed to live in peace until it was their turn.

One day it was the turn of a young female deer with a newborn baby. She belonged to the herd of King Branch Deer. She was worried that after she was killed there would be no one to take care of her child who was still too young to look after itself. So she approached her king with the plea that he send another deer instead of her that day and she would willingly go to the slaughter after her fawn was old enough to look after himself.

But King Branch Deer would not listen to her plea and told her to accept this as her fate as he could not ask another deer to replace her on the execution block. The mother doe looked at her baby and just could not take a step towards the palace. So she approached King Banyan Deer with her plea. King Banyan Deer looked at her with great compassion and told her to go look after her baby, as he would send another in her place.

Then King Banyan Deer himself walked to the palace and placed his head on the execution block. The royal cook was shocked to see him and remembering the King’s orders, went running to the King to ask him what was to be done. The King came down to see what was happening. On seeing King Banyan Deer he went up to him and gently asked why he was here. King Banyan Deer related the story of the fawn and the mother doe and told him that as he could not order another to take her place, he had decided to do it himself. The King was highly impressed with this supreme sacrifice and the great love and compassion that this King of deer possessed. So he decided to not only spare his life but that of the mother doe as well.

But King Banyan Deer was not satisfied. He asked that the lives of the other deer be spared as well. So the king granted him his wish. Then he asked about all the other four-footed animals in the forest and then about the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea. And King Brahmadutta agreed to spare the lives of all.

King Banyan Deer thanked him from the bottom of his heart and returned joyfully to the park. The gates were opened wide and both the herds were set free. Needless to say they lived peacefully and happily ever after.

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The Bad Lion and the Wise Deer

Once there lived a hungry, bad lion who ruled a far-away jungle.
He scared the animals in the forest and ordered them to bring him food everyday.
In return, he promised he would not kill any one of them and would keep all
animals safe from his fangs.
The smaller and helpless jungle animals had no choice but to agree.
One day, a young deer went to the lion’s den to give his offering.
The young deer brought the lion a huge meat enough for a feast.
The bad lion was still not satisfied that he craved for more.
The bad lion wanted to taste the deer’s meat and eat him whole.
The wise young deer thought of better ways to escape from the bad lion.
He said that on his way to the bad lion’s den, he met another mighty lion.
“Not far from here, I met a mighty lion and he claimed to be the King!
And this mighty lion said he wants to meet you my lord!” the deer said.

The furious bad lion said, “So do I! I want to know the impostor!”
The young deer took the bad lion to a river and said,
“Meet the mighty lion, my lord.”
The angry bad lion immediately jumped to the river attacking its reflection.
The bad lion didn’t know that the water was deep and got drowned.
The young deer ended the rule of the bad lion in the jungle.

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