This time, I am narrating a story from the Panchatantra under the section “Mitralabha” which translates to ‘gaining of friends’. In the background guide, I have given some idea about the origin and details of Panchatantra.
is about the friendship between the King Elephant and the King of mice.
ago, in the forests of Central India, there lived a herd of elephants. They
were a merry lot, and were led by a King Elephant. The forests were lush and
green with lots of ponds and waterholes and there was no dearth of food and
water and the elephants were living happily.
As we all
know, all good things come to an end, and true to the saying, in the next year,
there was no rain at all. The green forest withered and all the grass and trees
dried up. The sun was blazing hot and the summer was terrible. The worst thing
was that the waterholes started drying up quickly. The elephants could survive eating dry leaves
but they needed water to drink and bathe, and this had now become a problem.
The King Elephant who was witnessing this was worried.
becoming serious”, he thought to himself. “If we do not find an alternate
source of water, we will all perish”.
a sparrow which was the King Elephant’s friend flew up to him.
you worrying about, my dear friend?” she asked him.
“It is the
water situation” said he. “My friends, family and I are finding it very
difficult without water. If we do not get water to drink in the next few days,
I dread to think what will happen to us”. He was sounding really concerned and
“Don’t worry friend” said the sparrow. “Go north from here till you reach the mountain and near the mountain there is a river which is full of water. However, it is far off and will take a whole day for you to reach the place” said the sparrow and flew away.
The King Elephant
trumpeted loudly. The members of his herd came running from all directions to
find out what had happened.
all march north” announced the King Elephant.
He then told his herd about the river in the north near the mountain. His words brought joy to the members. “We will start now so that we reach by tomorrow!”, said the King.
“Hooray, we will go!” they cried in joy and started walking. They walked and walked for a long time and by the late evening were crossing a clearing where a lot of mice had built their homes by burrowing in the mud.
Some of the
young elephants who were leading the herd, walked with great speed over the
burrows and a few of the mice were trampled to death. The other elephants were
mice who were inside the burrows rushed out to see what was happening as the
walking of the elephants had shook their homes like an earthquake.
out, they were shocked to see some of their friends dead and could see the
elephants going away at a distance. They understood what had happened.
back, they could see a cloud of dust at a distance with sounds of trumpeting
and they knew that a larger group of elephants were on their way.
The King of
the mice looked around and took a quick decision. “I will go and speak to the
leader of the elephants” he said angrily. “They cannot simply trample our
houses and kill us like this”.
mice warned him “They are elephants and we are little mice. If we go and talk
to them, they may be angered and it will be disastrous”
The King of
mice was firm. “I am not changing my
decision” he said. “There is a saying
that, if you do not fight for what you want, you should not cry for what you
off in the direction from which the elephants were coming. A few mice joined
him, the King Elephant was coming in the front and the King of mice went up and
stood before him in his way.
being much stronger, the King Elephant could have just kicked the mice away and
moved on, but as he was a noble soul, he stopped and looked at the mice.
you want?” he asked.
The King of
mice spoke. “We are all living a short distance away in burrows. Just a while
ago some elephants of your herd carelessly trampled our burrows killing some of
our friends in the process. I request you therefore to please take your herd in
a different path to the river, to which I guess, you are heading”
elephant was amused at the fearless attitude of the little mouse. He thought
for a while and said, “Alright, I will do as you say. Please tell us the
The King of
mice was very happy.
O King!” he said. “We will never forget your help. I will show you the
alternate way. Also please do not hesitate to call me if you need any help
elephant was even more amused now. “A small mouse offering help to us mighty
elephants!” he thought to himself. Anyway, he told his herd to go by the
alternative way as told by the King of mice.
followed the instruction of their king and thereby all the other mice were
walking for some more distance, the herd could hear the gentle gurgling of the
river and there it was! A lush green
spot with lot of trees was at the foot of the mountain by which the river was
flowing with crystal clear water.
cry of the elephants on seeing the water, could be heard from afar as they
rushed into the river to quench their thirst. They were so happy as they
playfully sprayed water on each other, frolicking happily in the water.
decided to live there till the monsoons came when the drought in their earlier
abode would be over.
this place, there lived a group of poachers who would catch animals and birds
and make a living by selling them or killing them. One day, they saw this herd of elephants and
reported it to their leader.
good news you have brought me!” he said. “A herd of elephants means so much
money. Note the habits of the elephants for a few days and lay the trap, for we
shall capture them and sell them to the King”
poachers hid in the bushes and trees for a few days and noted when the
elephants were going to the river and when they went back. After planning
carefully, they brought in enough ropes to capture all the elephants and laid
the trap inside the river.
elephants along with their king, unaware of the trap laid in the river walked
in and started to bathe when the poachers climbed down from the trees and
pulled the ropes tight so that the elephants were caught. They then tied the
ropes to the trees securely.
the elephants realized that they had been trapped. They looked at each other in
dismay and cried loudly in distress but nobody was there to help them. The
elephants could not move from the water.
see the men at a distance and the leader was instructing them loudly. “Leave
them in the water for a few days. Let them be hungry and tired so that they
will not have the strength to resist and we can pull them easily” The other men
nodded and they all left the place.
elephant was horrified. The very thought of staying tied up in the cold water
for days together without food and without able to protect themselves was
help us?” thought he, in despair. As he looked around, he suddenly noticed that
one of the members of his herd was missing. Confused, he looked around again
but could not find the youngest member. Just then, he heard a loud trumpeting
and the young elephant was coming from the clearing towards the river. Clearly,
he had strayed away when they came to the river and luckily escaped from being
The King Elephant waved his trunk fast signalling the young one not to come into the water. The young elephant noticed and suddenly realized that the whole of his herd except him had been trapped.
neared the river, the members told him how they had been trapped and were not
hopeful of being freed. They were all so much in grief and the young elephant
felt very sad both because they would be taken away and he would be left alone.
He was pondering as to what could be done.
had an idea. “Hey!” he said, “why not seek the help of the King of mice?”
Elephant looked up in admiration and gratitude at the young elephant. “What a
brilliant idea!” he said. “Go immediately and tell the King of mice that we
need his help urgently”
elephant ran as fast as he could to the place they had met the mice. The King
of mice was there. He heard out the young elephant and was upset at what he
worry. I will help you with all my subjects. It is the duty of a friend to help
another who is in need”
thus, he called his subjects. “Come on, every one. Our friend, the King
elephant and his herd are in danger. We have to help them. Come quick”
As all the
mice assembled, a tiny voice squeaked, “The river is so far away. When will we
get there if we start walking now?”
The King of
mice looked up. “Yes, he is right. Will it not be dark by the time we get
there? Will we be able to render any help at all?” he asked.
worry” said the young elephant. “All of you climb on to my back and I will take
you there fast”.
mice clambered on to the young elephant’s back and he rushed to the river as
fast as he could. Meanwhile the elephants in the river were in a state of
anxiety as the evening was fast approaching.
the young elephant reached there, the mice climbed down, but how could they
enter the river? The King elephant who was in the front, came and thrust his
trunk out near the bank and the mice jumped on to that and climbed to his back.
Quickly they tried and gnawed away the ropes with all their might and just in a
few minutes, The King elephant was free.
might, the King elephant kept pulling at the ropes which were being gnawed by
the mice with their sharp teeth and one by one all the elephants were freed.
elephants were joyous. “Thank you dear friend!” said the King Elephant to the
King of mice. “You saved us from grave danger. When you told me that you would
help us in need, I was wondering how a little creature like you could help me,
who I thought was invincible, but now I realise that I should never under
estimate the power of any one.”
“It is our
pleasure to have helped you, friend” said the King of mice.
the King elephant, “A friend in need is a friend indeed!”