Panchtantra Story: The King’s Elephant and Her Best Friend

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There once lived a great king who had much love in his heart for animals. He loved them and cared for them, and could not bear to see any animal hungry, or hurt. In his beautiful palace, he had many beautiful birds from many different countries. In the stables outside, he had many horses from different parts of the world. While the birds sang different songs to him every day, and the horses pulled his carriage; his favorite animal was an elephant. He loved the elephant dearly, and every time he went anywhere, he sat on a grand throne, placed on the elephant’s back, and traveled all over his kingdom. He always wanted the best care for his favorite elephant, and built her a big shelter, and had a caretaker take care of her, every hour of the day. 

The elephant was cared for very well. She had a large shelter to live in, was fed the best of fruits and vegetables, and there was a caretaker to make sure that she lived a happy and healthy life. She was happy, but sometimes she was lonely, and she needed a friend. The king would visit her some times, and the caretaker would be there all day, but he was sometimes busy with the housekeepers and did his job and nothing more. He was also lazy, so when he had nothing to do, he would sleep, and spent very little time playing or talking to her. She wished the busy king would come to her more often, as she loved him as much as he loved her, but he had other duties as well. She wondered what it would be like to have a friend to stay by her side; someone to play with, and to talk to. She spent her days in her shelter with the lazy caretaker, and she was bored and lonely.  

One day a hungry dog found its way into the palace ground. He was so hungry that he could not walk straight. He was looking for food everywhere, till he came to the elephant’s shelter. In her shelter, he saw tasty food, which he decided to eat, right away. She saw him eating her food, but she did not say anything. She knew right away that he was hungry, and she had enough food to share with him. He was so hungry that he forgot to ask if he could eat her food, but once he finished eating, he was very sorry, and also thankful. The elephant saw how polite he was, and instantly decided to make him her friend. She asked him to stay with her, and share her food every day, and that’s what he did. 

From then on, the dog and the elephant lived together, and they were great friends. The caretaker did not care much and did not chase the dog away. He was busy sleeping or passing his time with the housekeepers. Both of them were happy, they were the best of friends, and soon they could not do without each other. Soon, the dog became fat and healthy, and one day a farmer saw the dog and asked the caretaker to sell the dog to him. Now being greedy, the caretaker would not say no. He took the money and let the farmer take him away. The farmer took him to his home far away and made him guard his fields at night. He did not get much food, he missed his friend, and he was unhappy. 

At the palace, the elephant missed her friend as well. She worried about him; she wondered whether he got enough to eat, whether he was cared for well. She worried so much for her friend that she soon stopped eating, and she got sick. The caretaker was scared; he knew that he had caused her sickness by separating her from her friend. He was scared that if the king knew he would be angry, as the dog was not his to sell. He decided to tell the king about her illness, but nothing else. 

The king was worried; he could not understand how his favorite elephant was now ill. He asked the caretaker many questions, but the caretaker was not truthful. He said that he did not know how she had suddenly become sick or why she would not eat her food. The king then called the best animal doctor in the kingdom, the doctor took one look at her and told the king that his favorite elephant was sad, and that was the reason why she wouldn’t eat. But the doctor had no idea why she was unhappy. 

The king called a meeting. Everyone who lived in the palace came before him. He asked them all if they knew why the elephant would not eat. Finally, the housekeepers told him about the dog. He then got to know of the close friendship between his favorite elephant and the stray dog, and how the dog had suddenly gone missing one day. At this point, the caretaker came out with the truth. But he could not say where the farmer had gone with the dog. The king then sent messengers all over his kingdom, to let everyone know that whoever would return the dog, would get a grand prize. 

Finally, the farmer got to know of the grand prize, and he came rushing back to the palace with the dog. The elephant and the dog were back together at last. Soon both were healthy and happy again. As for the caretaker, he had to pay back the farmer’s money, and he was ordered by the king, to take care of both; the dog and the elephant. Both friends lived happily ever after, and the one that took care of them; made sure that he did his job well, as he never wanted to make the king angry again. 

Moral: To be away from our best friends is truly painful.

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