The Monk and the Tusker
(Based on an ancient Buddhist tale)
Retold by Ama H.Vanniarachchy
Long time ago a monk lived alone in a forest. The forest was a beautiful place and to the monk all the animals and plants were his family. A rock cave was his dwelling. Forest berries was his diet. He spent the day meditating and practicing what he has learned.
Humans in the nearby village used to hunt and sometimes capture these animals for their own needs. There lived a she-elephant in the other end of the forest. Every time her baby elephants were captured by humans in the nearby village. She was very sad about this. One day she took her newborn baby elephant and walked to the other end of the forest where the monk lived. She went to the monk and gave her new born baby elephant to him and asked him to protect the baby elephant. The monk who was kind to all living beings, accepted the poor helpless mother’s request and adopted the baby elephant. The mother returned to her home, back to her herd.
From then on, the baby elephant grew with the monk as his son. The monk used to feed him, wash him and even play with him few hours a day. As the monk grew older and elephant grew younger, the elephant took care of the monk as a son would take care of his old father. The elephant used to follow the monk everywhere. If the monk is resting in the cave, the elephant would rest nearby. He would bring fruits to the monk. Keep the monk on his back and take him to the river and bathe him. The young mighty elephant was like the monk’s shadow.
One day, a hunter lost his way and wandered in the deep forest. Accidently he walked in to the area where the monk lived and he saw the mighty young elephant. He was surprised to see such a magnificent young tusker. He thought to himself, “If I tell the king about this mighty beast, I will be rewarded.” With such evil thoughts he went to the king and told the messengers about the giant beast. Soon the king’s huntsmen entered the forest in search of the giant tusker. They entered the other side of the forest where the monk and tusker lived and set elephant traps all over the forest.
That morning the monk was meditating in his cave and the young tusker set off into the forest to bring breakfast for both of them. Unknowing the evil intentions of the humans, the young tusker gaily roamed around the forest in search of food. He stepped on a trap and alas, he was caught! He couldn’t move his legs and the giant creature fell on the floor. He started to cry. His eyes were red with anger and agony. Tears started to roll off his eyes. He couldn’t understand what was happening. He tried his best to break off the ropes but they were hard as iron. It was a sad sight to see. Soon the king’s huntsmen reached there. They threw an arrow at the tusker’s shoulder which was soaked in a tranquilizer. How helpless he was!
Soon the giant creature was taken to the king. He was tied using hard ropes and iron chains. He soon gained conscious and was furious. His eyes searched the monk. He couldn’t see him anywhere. This is not the forest. He could see hundreds of people staring at him and some of them standing around him with spears and arrows pointed towards him. He was angry and started to shout. It was like the thunder. He moved his giant feet, trunk and body. He threw the bucket of water as hard as he can. It splashed and the bucket was in pieces. He took the food from his trunk and threw it up in the air. As he struggled the iron chains and roped hurt his feet and neck.
The king and all his men were wondering how to tame him. They pricked him with spears, threw water over him, shouted harsh loud words and tightened his chains but nothing calmed the Tusker. The king thought he has never seen such a huge elephant till now and such beautiful and long tusks. His voice was like thunder. This one surely is going to be the royal elephant. And he will be the best war elephant. But nothing could tame the tusker.
Meanwhile the monk was wondering where his elephant is. Why is he late? What could have happened to him? The monk left his cave and wandered in the forest in search of the tusker. The monk called out his name. Seeing his huge footsteps the monk followed them and came to the place where the tusker was trapped. The monk realized that his son, the tusker, was in great trouble and he needs help. The monk left the forest and entered the village. He asked the villagers about the tusker. They told him that a magnificent tusker had been captured today by the king. The monk visited the king. On the way he could hear the thunderous cries of the tusker. The monk felt his agony. As soon as he visited there, the tusker became calm. He bent down on his knees in front of the monk and cried. His warm tears washed the dust covering the monk’s feet. The monk placed his palm on the tusker’s forehead. He felt no fear and pain anymore.
The king saw this miracle. The wild beast was tamed by this monk from the forest. The king walked towards the monk and said, “The beast is tamed to you. How hard we tired, my men who are experts, couldn’t tame the beast. How did you do that?”
The monk replied, “This tusker whom you call as the beast, is my son. He lives with me in the forest. He is my family. Even animals feel love and compassion. They respond to kind words. And I must request you to release him back to where he belongs. He doesn’t belong here. The wild belongs to the wild. Besides, staying here will not make him happy he will remain stubborn and wild. And if you separate him from me, he will not be able to bear the separation. I am his family.”
“Dear monk, I want him to be the court tusker, he will be the pride of the kingdom. And he will make an excellent war elephant.”
“My dear king, these animals too have feelings. They feel fear, pain and sorrow. When they are separated from their loved once, from their homes they feel fear and sorrow. They miss their families, just as you and I do oh king. They too must be loved and cared, and treated with kind worlds. Just as you and I fear harsh words and physical punishment, these animals fear harsh words and physical punishment too. Dear king, please be kind to every living being, no matter what the size they are. Animals are not ours to use as we want to and they have all the rights to live a fear free life just as we do. We are just another part of Mother Nature and we all are one family. Do no harm to animals and plants, because every life is precious. Talking about this tusker, he will not survive if you separate him from his home and family. I want you to release him back to where he belongs. He grew up with me since he was a baby elephant. His mother requested me to take care of her newborn baby elephant because all of his babies were captured by humans. It is my duty to protect him and I will stand by him no matter what you do oh great king.”
The king was moved by the monk’s words and he ordered to free the tusker.
Happy and free, the giant tusker gently followed the monk back to his home, the forest.
© සියලූම හිමිකම් ඇවිරිණි. කතෘගේ ලිඛිත අවසරය නොමැතිව මෙහි සඳහන් කිසිවක් හෝ උපුටා ගැනීම, ගබඩා කර තැබීම, නැවත ප්රකාශය, පලකිරීම සපුරා තහනම්ය.
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