The Four Peaceful Animals
In times long past, in a beautiful forest in India, a dove, a hare, a monkey and an elephant had lived together for many a year now.
“Since the four of us live together so well and so peacefully, let us honour the oldest one of us and fulfill his wishes.” So they said and asked one another, whom was the oldest. So it is told.
The elephant pointed at a big, big tree that grew there and he said: “When I was but a little calf, the tree was as small as I was. I used to rub and scratch myself at his bark.”
The monkey looked at the tree and said: “When I was still tiny, this tree did not yet have any branches on whom I could have played jumped around. And since it was only as tall as I was, its shadow only just covered me.”
“When I was still small, the tree had only just stricken its roots. So I could dig them up and eat them,” said the hare.
“Well, it was me who brought the tree’s grain here. I carried it in my beak and let it fall down right here. And so the tree could grow,” said the dove.
And so the dove was the oldest, the hare was the second oldest, then came the monkey and the elephant was the youngest. So it is told.
The younger siblings wondered how they could honour their eldest properly, but finally they found a way. And so the elephant took the monkey upon his back to honour him. And the monkey took the hare on this shoulders to honour him. And when the hare then took the dove upon his head, the dove picked fruits from just that three and shared them with his younger siblings.
And this is how these four animals perfected the traditions to honour and help each and lived happy and peaceful. So it is told.
Copyright for translation, narration and image: TaleTellerin
Academically speaking – and I can’t help myself – this is a very interesting folktale. This version is told in Mongolia and indeed, the way the animals decide on who is the eldest is very typical for Mongolian animal tales. But here it is not a competition of creative lying as is the case in the first animal tale I told you – The Fox and the Wolf. And of course, elephant and monkey are not native to Mongolia. So obviously this little tale is an example for the influence of Indian fables and how these have been integrated into genuine Mongolian folklore. If one can speak of such a thing. Discuss?!