THE WHITE ELEPHANT
upon a time, there lived a herd of eighty thousand elephants at the bottom of
the majestic idanre. Their leader was a magnificent and rare white elephant who
was an extremely kind-hearten soul.
Each day this white elephant would go deep into the forest in search of food.
He would look for the best of wild fruit to send to his mother. But alas, his
mother never received any. This was because his messengers would always eat
them up themselves. Each night, when he returned home he would be surprised to
hear that his mother had been starving all day. He was absolutely disgusted
with his herd.
Then one day, he decided to leave them all behind and disappeared in the middle
of the night along with his dear mother. He took her to Mount Candorana to live
in a cave beside a beautiful lake that was covered by gorgeous pink lotuses.
It so happened that one day, when the white elephant was feeding he heard loud
cries. A forester from Benaras had lost his way in the forest and was
absolutely terrified. He had come to the area to visit relatives and could not
find his way out.
On seeing this big white elephant he was even more terrified and ran as fast as
he could. The elephant followed him and told him not to be afraid, as all he
wanted to do was to help him. He asked the forester why he was crying so
bitterly. The forester replied that he was crying because he had been roaming
the forest for the past seven days and could not find his way out.
The elephant told him not to worry as he knew every inch of this forest and
could take him to safety. He then lifted him on to his back and carried him to
the edge of the forest from where the forester went on his merry way back to
On reaching the city, he heard that King Brahmadutta’s personal elephant had
just died and the King was looking for a new elephant. His heralds were roaming
the city, announcing that any man who had seen or heard of an elephant fit for
a King should come forward with the information.
The forester was very excited and immediately went up to the King and told him
about the white elephant that he had seen on Mount Candorana. He told him that
he had marked the way and would require the help of the elephant trainers in
order to catch this fantastic elephant.
The King was quite pleased with the information and immediately dispatched a
number of soldiers and elephant trainers along with the forester. After
travelling for many days, the group reached the lake besides which the
elephants resided. They slowly moved down to the edge of the lake and hid
behind the bushes. The white elephant was collecting lotus shoots for his
mother’s meal and could sense the presence of humans. When he looked up, he
spotted the forester and realized that it was he who had led the King’s men to
him. He was very upset at the ingratitude but decided that if he put up a
struggle many of the men would be killed. And he was just too kind to hurt
anyone. So he decided to go along with them to Benaras and then request the
benevolent King to be set free.
That night when the white elephant did not return home, his mother was very
worried. She had heard all the commotion outside and had guessed that the
King’s men had taken away her son. She was scared that the King would ride him
in to battle and her son would definitely be killed. She was also worried that
there would be no one to look after her or even feed her, as she could not see.
She just lay down and cried bitterly.
Meanwhile her son was led in to the beautiful city of Benaras where he was
given a grand reception. The whole city was decorated and his own stable was
gaily painted and covered with garlands of fragrant flowers. The trainers laid
out a feast for their new state elephant who refused to touch a morsel. He did
not respond to any kind of stimuli, be it the fragrant flowers or the beautiful
and comfortable stable. He just sat there looking completely despondent.
The worried trainers went straight to report the situation to their King, as
they were scared that the elephant would just waste away without any food or
water. The King was extremely concerned when he heard what they had to say and
went to the stable himself. He offered the elephant food from the royal table
and asked him why he grieved in this manner. He thought that the elephant
should be proud and honored that he was chosen as the state elephant and would
get the opportunity to serve his King.