Crows, owls, rabbits and elephants…

“This is so funny! Of all the peacocks, swans, cuckoos, parrots, pigeons, ducks and cranes of this world – you chose an ugly owl?” He laughed louder. “This owl will be blind during the day, when you are all awake, and the only one awake at night, when you are all asleep! Yes, he could be a good chowkidar (house-guard),but a king? Not in a million years!”

The birds were stunned. They didn’t know how to answer the crow.

The following is an extract from The third tantraकाकोलुकीयंThe enmity between crows and owls.

The crow had not finished. He continued to laugh loudly, and said…

वक्र-नासं सुजिह्माक्षं क्रूरम् अप्रिय-दर्शनम् ।
अक्रुद्धस्येदृशं वक्त्रं भवेत् क्रुद्धस्य कीदृशम् ॥ ७७ ॥

vakra-nāsaṃ sujihmākṣaṃ krūram apriya-darśanam |
akruddhasyedṛśaṃ vaktraṃ bhavet kruddhasya kīdṛśam || 77 ||

One who, in spite of not being angry, looks so unpleasant and cruel with his crooked nose and squinted eyes, how will he look when he is really becomes angry?

स्वभाव-रौद्रम् अत्युग्रं क्रूरम् अप्रिय-वादिनम् – The owl is ferocious by nature, and also violent and cruel, he speaks rudely too – how will it benefit any of us if he is made the king? We already have a king in the majestic Garuda – the vehicle of Sri Vishnu, who is the god of the three worlds. And you want to replace him with this ‘blind-during-the-day’ owl? For argument sake, even if this owl had some good qualities, it would not be proper to declare him our king, when we already have a king.”

“One king is enough to rule well – having too many leaders is disastrous. Also, just the name of mighty Garuda is enough to protect you from many enemies.

गुरूणां नाम-मात्रेऽपि गृहीते स्वामि-सम्भवे ।
दुष्टानां पुरतः क्षेमं तत्-क्षणाद् एव जायते ॥ ८० ॥

gurūṇāṃ nāma-mātre’pi gṛhīte svāmi-sambhave |
duṣṭānāṃ purataḥ kṣemaṃ tat-kṣaṇād eva jāyate || 80 ||

When a great person becomes your ruler, you can be instantly saved from enemies just by taking his name in front of them.

“And also…”

व्यपदेशेन महतां सिद्दिः सञ्जायते परा ।
शशिनो व्यपदेशेन वसन्ति शशकाः सुखम् ॥ ८१ ॥

vyapadeśena mahatāṃ siddiḥ sañjāyate parā |
śaśino vyapadeśena vasanti śaśakāḥ sukham || 81 ||

Sometimes, great things happen just by taking a great person’s name. Just by taking the name of the moon, the rabbits were able to live peacefully near the lake.

The birds said ” How did that happen? Tell us more!”

The crow replied…


The story of the rabbit and the herd of elephants

In a forest not so far away from here, lived a huge elephant whose name was ChaturDanta (the one with four tusks). He was the leader of his herd.

It so happened that there came a time when it didn’t rain for many months, and this resulted in famine. All the water bodies in that forest became dry. The elephants, concerned at the state of events, approached ChaturDanta and said “Oh great one! This famine has hit us hard…many of our cubs are dead already and many more are dying of thirst. Please search a lake that we can go to and stay nearby, in order to quench our thirst.”

ChaturDanta thought for a while, and then replied ” There is a huge lake situated 50 miles to the north of this forest. It is always full, because a tributary of the river Ganga flows under it. Let us all go there and stay for some time.”

And so the elephant herd set out to the north. They walked for many days, and finally reached the lake. As they saw it in the distance, their happiness knew no bounds. They rushed towards it, and jumped into it’s cool waters, gulping down many trunkfuls, and enjoying immensely. They spent the whole day wading in the lake, playing joyously.

Unknown to them, there were many rabbits living in the soft earth on the banks of the lake. As the elephants moved around, they trampled many of those rabbits under their feet – some broke their heads, some their necks, and some had their feet broken. Many died, and many were badly wounded. The holes that they lived in had been broken, and there was blood all around. It was a disaster.

The ones who survived got together, wailing loudly and grieving for their dead relatives. “These elephants will keep coming here – this is the only water body around. We will be trampled – there is no hope” they cried. It is said…

स्पृशन्न् अपि गजो हन्ति जिघ्रन्न् अपि भुजङ्गमः ।
हसन्न् अपि नृपो हन्ति मानयन्न् अपि दुर्जनः ॥ ८२ ॥

spṛśann api gajo hanti jighrann api bhujaṅgamaḥ |
hasann api nṛpo hanti mānayann api durjanaḥ || 82 ||

Elephants kill with a mere touch. Snakes kill just by smelling their prey. A king sentences a man to death while laughing, and a wicked person kills even as he pretends to respect you.

“And so, we have to think how to save ourselves…”

To read more, click here!