Parables from the East - The Giant Crab And The Elephants

 The Giant Crab And The Elephants

There was a lake covering a large area below the snow mountains. It was always full. Its cool water looked as clear as glass and tasted fine. Lotuses made the lake quite inviting. Nearby, in the forest, lived a horde of elephants. To a couple among them was born the Dumbo. The Dumbo grew up into a strong and intelligent young elephant. He began visiting many places with the senior members of the horde. He saw several small pools from which they drank and in which they bathed. One day he wandered alone and found the large lake. He looked at it with joy but felt a little baffled too. If such a nice lake was there so near their forest, why did the seniors never come to bathe in it or drink from it?. "Don't enter the lake!" shouted an elderly elephant who saw the young one venturing towards it. "Why? What's wrong with this lake?" he asked. The elderly elephant hemmed and hawed, but did not give a clear answer.

The Dumbo returned to his parents. "Why don't you ever enter the large lake?" he asked. His parents had to tell him the reason. In that pond lived a red giant crab. He was huge in size and ferocious by nature. He had killed and eaten up many elephants in the past. That is why the seniors in the horde had decided never to let any elephant go near it. The young elephant was shocked at hearing this. But he kept quiet. A year or two passed and he was married to a nice cow elephant. However, he could not forget the fact that a mere crab kept the mighty elephants terrorized. Besides, the wicked crab had killed many elephants for which he ought to be punished. He talked to several elderly elephants who knew about the crab's method of attack. It did not attack an elephant when he entered the lake. But when he turned to climb the shore, it caught one of his hind legs in its powerful tongs and slowly dragged him into the deep waters. The elephant would be drowned. Then the giant crab would eat his flesh. If a number of elephants entered the lake, the crab attacked only the last one. The young elephant told all the members of the horde: "It is a shame to live in fear of a crab. Do as I say. We will surely vanquish the giant crab. You have nothing to fear. The crab attacks the last one of the returning elephants. I will be the last one." He persuaded the horde to enter the lake. They drank to their heart's content and ate the lotus stems. The giant crab waited patiently. 

When the young elephant began plodding towards the bank after all the other elephants had left the waters, the crab caught one of his hind legs and tried to drag him backward. The young elephant gave out a sharp cry. His wife, who was just ahead of him, said, addressing the crab: "O Giant Crab, what a clever and courageous creature you are! Would you please tell me how many elephants you have killed to your credit?". The cow elephant's address quite pleased the crab. In his bid to answer her, he let go of the hind leg of her husband. Instantly the young elephant raised his heavy foot and brought it forcefully down on the giant crab's back. The crab's back cracked. The injured crab could not escape. The young elephant gave out a cry of joy. The other elephants re-entered the lake and hauled the crab up the bank and trampled it to pieces. The monsoon came. The river was in spate. The lake overflowed and carried away the two huge claws of the giant crab into the river. Those who got them made two drums out of them, and they were famous drums of a bygone era!. 

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