World Folk Tales – How the Tiger got its Stripes
The tiger once did not have any stripes and was god’s greatest creation. So how did the tiger get its stripes??
Once upon a time, long before people started writing stories, there was an orange coloured animal called the tiger. The tiger was god’s greatest creation and he was very proud of himself. But his pride knew no bounds and it soon developed into arrogance.
The tiger would daily go to the river and drink water. Apart from drinking water, he would admire himself by looking at his reflection in the river. He would flex his body in various poses and inflate his own ego. He thought of himself to be the most perfect creature in every way possible, until one day, another animal came to the river.
That day, a big bull came to the river to drink some water and the tiger was stunned to see someone else much bigger than him. Naturally, he grew jealous and asked him many questions. He found out that the bull spent his time in some field and decided to check it out. After the bull finished drinking water, he followed the bull to the field and saw that a human was using the bull to plough the field. The tiger then thought to himself how unfortunate it must be, to be used by someone weaker than oneself, like a servant. He then walked away from there and decided to talk to the bull the next day.
The next day, the bull came at the same time to the river and the tiger asked him as to why he was being used like a servant by humans who were weaker than him. The bull then told the tiger that he was foolish for thinking that physical strength was the only parameter in evaluating creatures. He said that humans had wisdom and that being strong mentally was more necessary than being strong physically. The tiger was however not smart enough to understand this and he refused to accept what the bull said. He then asked the bull as to where he could get wisdom and to this the bull said that, he must directly ask a human. And so, the tiger decided to get the wisdom of humans by asking one directly all by himself!
A few days later, the tiger followed the human (who was ploughing the field with the bull) into the forest. The tiger then sprang in front of the human suddenly and threatened him to hand over the wisdom to him. The man fearing for his life, began to think quickly. He then told the tiger that he had left the wisdom in his house and that he needed to go back home to get it. The tiger agreed to this, but the man then raised a concern. He asked the tiger to give a guarantee that he would not attack him when he was on his way to the house. The tiger reassured the man, saying that he would not attack him, but the man still felt unsure and so he asked the tiger if he could tie his tail to a tree. The tiger agreed without giving a second thought to it.
Next, the man asked if he could tie the tiger’s fore paws to the tree and the tiger agreed blindly once again. After this, the tiger’s hind paws, neck, body and head were all bound to a tree with thick black ropes. The tiger was now fully tied up to the tree and the man left, never to return again.
After many hours passed, the tiger realised that the man had cheated him and he tried to cut loose from the ropes. But the ropes were tied very tight and so he had to struggle a lot before he was able to break free. When the tiger was free, he felt thirsty and so he rushed to the river to drink some water. It was then that the tiger saw something in his reflection that frightened him. His orange body was covered here and there with black stripes. These stripes were present all over the body and he was so shocked to see his beauty ruined by a few black ropes. He then realised that the black ropes had caused this to his body. The tiger then ran away into a deep part of the forest, too ashamed to look at his own self ever again!
Fun fact – The stripes of the tiger help in camouflaging its appearance when hunting.
Moral – Wisdom is the wealth of the wise