Jataka Tales – An Elephant And A Dog
True friends can never be separated
Once upon a time, there was a royal elephant that used to reside in the premises of the king’s palace. The elephant was very dear to the king, so he was cared for, well-fed, and well-treated. There was a Dog who used to live in the neighborhood of the Elephant shed. He was very weak and skinny. He was always fascinated by the smell of the rich sweet rice being fed to the royal elephant.
One day, the Dog could not resist the aroma of the rice and somehow, he sneaked into the Elephant’s shed. He ate the sweet rice that fell from the Elephant’s mouth. He liked the rice so much that he started coming daily to eat the rice. For days, the huge Elephant didn’t notice the small dog as he was busy enjoying the delicious food. Gradually, the Dog became bigger and stronger by eating such rich food. He came under the notice of the Elephant.
The Elephant used to enjoy the company of the Dog and started sharing his food with him. Both of them also started sharing time with each other and soon, they made good friends. They ate together, slept together, and played together. It didn’t take long when neither of them was happy without the other. They became great friends and didn’t want to get separated from each other.
Then one day, a man saw the Dog and asked the Elephant-keeper,
Stranger: I want to buy this Dog! What price do you seek for your Dog?
The Elephant-keeper didn’t own the Dog, but he sold the Dog and extracted a sum of money out of this deal. The man took the Dog to his home village, which was quite far away. The King’s Elephant became very sad after this incident. He missed his friend a lot and started neglecting everything. He didn’t want to do anything without his dear friend, so stopped eating, drinking, and even bathing.
Ultimately, the Elephant-keeper reported this to the King; however, he didn’t tell anything about the Dog. The King had a wise minister, who was known for his understanding of animals. At once, the King asked the minister,
King: Go to the Elephant shed and find out the reason for the Elephant’s condition.
The intelligent minister went to the Elephant shed and found the Elephant very sad. He looked the Elephant all over and asked the Elephant-keeper,
Minister: There is nothing wrong with this Elephant’s body, then why does he look so sad? I think this Elephant is grief-stricken, possibly due to the loss of a dear friend. Do you know if this Elephant shared a close friendship with anyone?
There was a Dog who used to eat, sleep and play with the Elephant. He was taken by a stranger three days ago.
Minister: Where is the Dog?
Elephant-keeper: I don’t know.
Minister: Your majesty, as per my opinion, the royal Elephant is not sick, but he is lonesome without his dear friend, the Dog.
King: Do you know where that Dog is?
Minister: Elephant-keeper has informed that a stranger took him away and he didn’t know about his whereabouts.
King: How can we bring back my Elephant’s friend and make him happy again?
Minister: Your Majesty, make a declaration, that whoever has the dog that used to live at the royal Elephant’s shed will be penalized.
Man: Attention everybody!! Attention everybody!! Whoever has the dog that used to live at the royal Elephant’s shed will be penalized. This is the king’s order.
The King did the same and the man who took the dog, instantly turned him loose when he heard the proclamation.
When the dog was free, he ran back as fast as he could to reach the Elephant’s shed. The Elephant was so delighted to see the Dog that he picked his friend with his trunk and made him sit on his head. The Dog waved his tail, while the Elephant’s eyes sparkled with happiness. The King was content to see the happy Elephant once again. He also rewarded the minister for his wise judgment. Both the Elephant and the Dog lived happily ever after.
True friends can never be separated.