The Elephant and The Hares - Panchatantra Stories

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In a certain jungle, there lived an elephant king and with him, his retinue. His name was Chaturadant. Once there was no rain for a good many years and the lakes and ponds all dried up.

The elephants went to their king and said to him, “Your Majesty! Parched by thirst, some of our little ones have already died, the rest of them are on the verge of death. We must find some place where we can drink water as we want to.”

“After deep reflection, their leader replied, “I know a place where there is a big lake which is always full. We’ll go there.”

So all the elephants marched five days and five nights, and early the following morning, they all reached the lake.

In the soft earth, around the lake, there were innumerable holes, the homes of the hares.

When the elephants plunged jubilantly into the water, these holes were destroyed and many hares became dead underneath others were seriously injured.

When the elephants had left the lake, the surviving hares assembled, crying pitifully, “Oh, dear, dear, dear! Because water is not to be had anywhere else, these elephants are bound to come here everyday and trample on us. We must do something. 

One of them said, “What else can we do. It is better to leave this place?”

The other hares replied, why we should give up our ancestral home so suddenly! It’s impossible! No, we must frighten the elephants so much that they never think of coming back. Though we are only hares but we are not timid.

One of them said, “I know a way to frighten them off but we will need a very clever diplomat who is good at pretending. I have a plan-One of our fellow approach the elephant king and says that he has been sent by Chandrama. He tells him that Chandrama forbids the elephants to come to the lake, because it’s the home of the hares, Now, if the elephant king is taken in by this story, he will go away.”

“Well,” said another hare, “we have, amongst us, Lambakaran who is very clever. We can send him, it is said, ‘A messanger should be someone, who has wits, good looks and an unselfish nature, an excellent conversationalist, with a thorough knowledge and who understands the minds of other people.”

“The other hares said, “You are right! We will carry out your plan.”

After this Lambakarana was sent to the elephant king. After he had walked some way from the lake, he came across a hillock which lay in the path of the elephants, but was too high for them to reach.

He sat down on it. When the elephant king passed by with his herd, the hare cried out to him, threateningly, “Hey, you! Wicked elephant! Don’t you dare approach this lake! It belongs to Chandrama. Go back!”

‘The elephant king was taken by surprise and said to the hare, “Who are you?”

“My name is Lambakaran,” replied the hare, “and I am Chandrama’s messenger. He has sent me to you!”

“Hare!” said the elephant king. “Tell me his message immediately and we will obey him!”

Lambakaran, told, “If you want to live, don’t ever return to this lake again. For, yesterday you visited the lake and trampled on innumerable hares, who were under my protection.”

“I see,” replied the elephant king. “Well, where is Lord Chandrama now?”

“He has come down to the lake himself to console the surviving hares,” said Lambakaran.

Lead me to him,” said the elephant king, “so that I can beg his forgiveness and then go away.”

“All right,” said Lambakaran, “come along with me.”

“It was evening. The hare took the elephant king to the bank of the lake and showed him the reflection of the moon in the water of lake.

“Our Master is sitting in deep meditation,” he said. “Bow to him silently and leave, for if you disturb him while he is meditating, he will be furious with you!” The elephant bowed from a distance and went away trembling. And from that day onward, the hares lived happily ever after. ‘And another thing, if you want to stay alive, don’t elect a sly and vicious king. As they say, “The hare and the partridge were destroyed because they chose a sly and vicious arbitrator’.”

‘How was that?’ enquire all the birds. And the crow told his own story. THE HARE AND THE PARTRIDGE

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