Stories from Panchatantra
The Moon lake
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Once A large herd of elephants lived in a jungle. Their king was a huge, majestic tusker. He looked after them with love and care. A severe drought hit the area. As there was no rain for a few years, all the rivers and tanks had dried up. Birds and animals died of thirst. The wild elephants suffered for want of water. Their king knew that if they did not get water soon, many of them would die of thirst. He had to find water as quickly as possible.
He asked the elephants to go in different directions to look for water. One of them found a large lake full of water in another jungle far away. The king was happy. He ordered all the elephants to make their way to the lake. It was a beautiful lake. Close to it was a colony of rabbits. The elephants had to pass through this colony. Thousands of rabbits were trampled to death and thousands more were injured. The rabbits were in a panic. Their king called a meeting.
"A herd of wild elephants is passing through our colony," he said. "They have already killed or injured thousands of us. We have to take urgent steps to prevent more deaths. I want all of you to think of a way to save our race." The rabbits thought and thought. How could they stop the elephants? One little rabbit stood up.
"Your Majesty," he said, "if you will send me as your messenger to the king of the elephants, I may be able to find a solution." "By all means, go as my messenger and see what you can do." The little rabbit hurried out.
He saw a group of elephants returning from the lake. Right in the middle was the king. To get near him was impossible. "I will be crushed to death,' thought the rabbit. So he climbed up a huge rock.
"O, king of the elephants," he shouted, "hear me, please." The king heard his voice and turned towards him.
"Well, who are you?" he asked. "I am a messenger," replied the rabbit. "A messenger? From whom?" "I am a messenger from the mighty Moon." "What is your business? Is there a message for me from the Moon?" "Yes, yes, your Majesty. But you must not be angry with me. Please remember that a messenger is never punished for what he has to say. He is only doing his duty." "Very well. Say what you have been sent to say. I shall not harm you." "Sir," said the little rabbit, "the Moon has this to say"
" You, the king of the elephants, have brought your herd to my holy lake and soiled its waters. You have killed thousands of rabbits on your way to the lake. You know that rabbits are under my special protection. Everyone knows that the king of the rabbits lives with me. I ask you not to kill any more rabbits. Otherwise something terrible will happen to you and your herd."
The king of the elephants was shocked. He looked at the little rabbit. "You are right," he said. "We may have killed many rabbits on our way to the lake. I shall see that you do not suffer anymore. I shall request the Moon to forgive me for my sins. Please tell me what I should do." "Come with me alone," replied the rabbit. "Come, I shall take you to the Moon." The little rabbit took the huge elephant to the lake. There they saw the Moon reflected in the still waters. "There, your Majesty, meet the Moon," said the little rabbit.
"Let me worship the divine Moon," said the elephant, and dipped his trunk into the water. At once the water was disturbed. The Moon seemed to move to and fro. The rabbit said, "Now the Moon is angrier than ever." "Why?' asked the king. "What have I done?" "You have touched the holy waters of the lake," replied the rabbit. The elephant bowed his head. "Please ask the Moon to forgive me. Never again will we touch the holy waters of this lake. Never again will we harm the rabbits whom the Moon loves so much." And the king and his herd went away. Soon there was rain and the elephants lived happily. It did not occur to them ever that a little rabbit had fooled them.
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