Panchtantra Story: The Elephant and the Sparrows

 

Photo by Sunny on Pexels.com

In a jungle far away, lived all sorts of animals, big and small. Some lived in the water, some in trees, and some on land. All lived as happily as they could be. There were older animals, and there were baby animals. And new babies were born every few months. In this jungle, there lived a pair of sparrows. These sparrows were husband and wife, and they were getting ready to start a family. Starting a family isn’t easy, and there was much to be done. The first step was building a nest, so they collected twigs and leaves for many days until they had a warm and cosy nest to lay eggs. After the eggs were laid, both of them took turns sitting on them till they could be hatched. One would go off in search of food, while the other would sit on the eggs. They were very excited to welcome new baby birds soon, but just then, a problem came up. 

Just beside the tree that they had laid their nest in, lived a strong elephant. He was bigger than all the animals of the jungle and was quite proud of his strength. He did all sorts of exercises to get stronger. He loved to show off his strength, because of which all the others would be afraid of him, especially the birds. They were afraid of him, as, with his trunk, he could break off the largest tree branches. With his feet, he could kick down a whole tree. 

Now, the sparrows had laid their eggs. And they were hoping that the elephant would not come anywhere near their tree, but this was not to be. One fine morning, he was in a mood to show off his strength, and with his trunk, he began to shake the tree. First, the leaves fell off, and then some smaller branches. The sparrows were scared; they begged him to stop shaking the tree, or their eggs would on the ground, and cracked soon. But he was in no mood to care. He continued showing off his strength. He kept shaking the tree, till the nest fell to the ground, and the eggs were destroyed.   

The poor sparrows were very sad; they cried for many hours until the owl that lived in the same tree offered to help them. It wouldn’t be possible for the sparrows to lay eggs again, till they had taught the elephant a lesson, or he would destroy their nest again. The owl promised them that she would come up with a great idea to teach him a lesson. Finally, they had some hope. If he could be taught a lesson, they could build a nest again, and lay eggs to start a family. 

The next day the owl came back to them with three of her friends; a tiny mosquito, a small bee, and a frog. They wondered what these small animals could do to teach the proud elephant a lesson, but the owl told them not to worry, as she had a brilliant plan. Now everyone in the jungle knew that the owl was a wise bird, and they were all hoping she could teach the elephant a good lesson, once and for all. So, the three put their plan into action. 

In the afternoon, when the elephant had enjoyed a heavy meal of fruits and vegetables, he laid down to rest. Just then the mosquito went near his ears and started to sing a song. He was enjoying this strange song, and it made him sleepy. So, he closed his eyes to sleep. Once he was asleep, the bee came flying and stung him on both his eyes. He woke up shouting with pain. His eyes were burning; they had swelled up; he needed to wash them with water right away. So, with his eyes tightly shut, he went running towards the pond. 

Just beside the pond was the beehive, and sitting under the hive was the frog. As soon as the frog saw him, she started to croak. He thought that the pond was where the croaking sound had come from and went running towards the beehive. But before he could reach, the bees came rushing out and stung him all over his body. He had no more strength left. He was in great pain. He fell on the ground and lay there groaning and crying. For many days he couldn’t move. He couldn’t see as his eyes were swollen, and he couldn’t walk as he had been stung on his legs as well. All he could do was lie there, and wait to get better. 

It was at this moment that he learnt his lesson. He began to understand that even the smaller animals could defeat him if he continued to show off his strength without caring about their safety. He regretted dropping the sparrows’ nest and destroying their eggs. He was shameful about all the wrong things he had done. Luckily, the other animals soon took pity on him. The frog brought him water from the pond to drink; the sparrows dropped fruits from the tree above him, and the bees shared their honey with him. With food and rest, soon he was well again. The pain from the bee stings went away; he could open his eyes again, and he could walk once more. 

As soon as he was well, he went running to the sparrows to say sorry. He even helped them collect leaves and twigs to build a new nest, and when they were away looking for food. He protected their nest. Soon the eggs were laid, and not long after that they hatched, and baby sparrows came out. Everyone in the jungle was happy, even the strong elephant. For as long as he lived, he always made sure to be careful about the smaller animals. His strength was great, but now he used his strength with care. 

Moral: True strength is caring for those who are weaker than us.  

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