7. Elephants to the Rescue
Some two thousand years ago, in a river in ancient India, there was a pond full of fish. They lived happily in the clear water. They jumped and swam or just floated around enjoying their watery home.
Then for a long time it didn’t rain. Every day, some more water evaporated, until the pond had almost dried up. If the pond dried up, all of the fish would die under the hot, dry sun.
The sun kept beating down on the dry earth. An old man happened to walk by the pond. He saw the water was almost gone. His heart filled with mercy. He went straight to the king and said, “The water in the fish’s pond is almost dry, and the fish are in great danger. If it pleases your majesty, you might send twenty elephants to tote water to save those fish.”
The king was a Buddhist, so as soon as he heard the old man’s request, he said, “It is wonderful that you have such a kind and merciful heart. Go to the royal elephant stables and take as many elephants as you feel you need to to the water to save those poor, suffering fish.”
When the old man heard the king’s reply, he took his two sons to the royal elephant stables and selected twenty of the best elephants. Then he went to the breweries and borrowed as many skins as he could – in India in those days, liquor was stored and transported in skins. Then the three of them led the twenty elephants to the biggest river in the region, and filled all the skins with water. The twenty royal elephants carried the heavy skins full of water to the fish pond, and they poured all the water into the pond.
After many trips, the pond was full again, just as it had been before the drought. The fish in the pond were saved! They leapt and played and swam back and forth.
When the old man saw how happy the fish were, and watched the ripples on the water’s surface, all of the worries and sadness that the long years had gathered in his tired old heart were immediately swept away.
As the day turned into night, he and his sons cheerfully led the twenty elephants back to the royal stables and went to tell their king the good news.