Animal Stories With Morals - The Hare In The Moon

 The Hare In The Moon

A long time ago, when animals could talk, there lived in a forest four wise creatures, a hare, a jackal, an otter, and a monkey. They were good friends, and every evening they would sit together in a forest glade to discuss the events of the day, exchange advice, and make good resolutions. The hare was the noblest and wisest of the four. He believed in the superiority of men and women and was always telling his friends tales of human goodness and wisdom. One evening, when the moon rose in the sky, and in those days the moon's face was clean and unmarked, the hare looked up at it carefully and said, "Tomorrow good men will observe a fast, for I can see that it will be the middle of the month. They will eat no food before sunset, and during the day they will give alms to any beggar or holy man who may meet them. Let us promise to do the same. In that way, we can come a little closer to human beings in dignity and wisdom."

The others agreed and then went their different ways. The next day, the otter got up, stretched himself, and was preparing to get his breakfast when he remembered the vow he had taken with his friends. "If I keep my word, how hungry I shall be by evening!" he thought, "I'd better make sure that there's plenty to eat once the fast is over." He set off towards the river. A fisherman had caught several large fish early that morning and had buried them in the sand, planning to return for them later. The otter soon smelt them out. "A supper all ready for me!" he said to himself. But since it's a holy day, I mustn't steal. Instead, he called out, "Does anyone own this fish?" There being no answer, the otter carried the fish off to his home, setting it aside for his evening meal. Then he locked his front door and slept all through the day, undisturbed by beggars or holy men asking for alms. Both the monkey and the jackal felt the same way when they got up that morning. They remembered their vows but thought it best to have something put by for the evening. The jackal found some stale meat in someone's backyard. "Ah, that should improve with age," he thought and took it home for his evening meal. And the monkey climbed a mango tree and picked a bunch of mangoes. Like the otter, they decided to sleep through the day.

The hare woke up early. Shaking his long ears, he came out of his burrow and sniffed the dew-drenched grass. "When evening comes, I can have my fill of grass," he thought. "But if a beggar or holy man comes my way, what can I give him? I cannot offer him grass, and I have nothing else to give. I shall have to offer myself. Most men seem to relish the flesh of hare. We're good to eat, I'm told," And pleased with this solution, he scampered off. Now the God Sakka had been resting on a cloud not far away, and he had heard the hare speaking aloud. "I will test him," said the God. "Surely no hare can be so noble and unselfish!" Towards the evening, God Sakka descended from his cloud, and assuming the form of an old priest, he sat down near the hare's burrow, and when the animal came home from his romp, said, "Good evening, little hare. Can you give me something to eat? I have been fasting all day, and now I am so hungry that I cannot pray." The hare, remembering his vow said, "Is it true that men enjoy eating the flesh of the hare?" "Quite true," said the priest. "In that case," said the hare, "Since I have no other food to offer you, you can make a meal of me." "But I am a holy man, and this is a holy day, and I may not kill any living creature with my own hands." Then collect some dry sticks and set them alight. I will leap into the flames myself, and when I am roasted you can eat me. 

God Sakka marveled at these words, but he was still quite not sure, so he caused a fire to spring up from the earth. The hare, without any hesitation, jumped into the middle of the flames. "What's happening?" called the hare after a while. "The fire surrounds me, but not a hair of my coat is singed. In fact, I'm feeling quite cold!" As the hare spoke, the fire died down, and he found himself sitting on the cool sweet grass. Instead of the old priest, there stood before him the God Sakka in all his radiance. "I am God Sakka, little hare, and having heard your vow, I wanted to test your sincerity. Such unselfishness of yours deserves immortality. It must be known throughout the world." God Sakka then stretched out his hand towards the mountain and drew from it some magic element. Then he threw upwards towards the moon, which had just risen, and instantly the outline of the hare appeared on the moon's surface. Then leaving the hare in a bed of sweet grass, he said, "Forever and ever, little hare, you shall look down from the moon upon the world, to remind men of the old truth, "Give to others, and the Gods will give to you."

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