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Panchatantra
           

   


Complete & Unabridged Translation

44. THE MICE THAT SET ELEPHANTS FREE
 

 
   

 

           
         

 
   

There was once a region where people, houses, and temples had fallen into decay. So the mice, who were old settlers there, occupied the chinks in the floors of stately dwellings with sons, grandsons (both in the male and female line), and further descendants as they were born, until their holes formed a dense tangle. They found uncommon happiness in a variety of festivals, dramatic performances (with plots of their own invention), wedding-feasts, eating-parties, drinking-bouts, and similar diversions. And so the time passed.

But into this scene burst an elephant-king, whose retinue numbered thousands. He, with his herd, had started for the lake upon information that there was water there. As he marched through the mouse community, he crushed faces, eyes, heads, and necks of such mice as he encountered.
 

 


           
         

 
   

Then the survivors held a convention. "We are being killed," they said, "by these lumbering elephants curse them! If they come this way again, there will not be mice enough for seed. Besides:

An elephant will kill you, if
He touch; a serpent if he sniff;
King's laughter has a deadly sting;
A rascal kills by honoring.
 



Therefore let us devise a remedy effective in this crisis."
 
 

           
         

 
   

When they had done so, a certain number went to the lake, bowed before the elephant-king, and said respectfully: "O King, not far from here is our community, inherited from a long line of ancestors. There we have prospered through a long succession of sons and grandsons. Now you gentlemen, while coming here to water, have destroyed us by the thousand. Furthermore, if you travel that way again, there will not be enough of us for seed. If then you feel compassion toward us, pray travel another path. Consider the fact that even creatures of our size will some day prove of some service."

And the elephant-king turned over in his mind what he had heard, decided that the statement of the mice was entirely logical, and granted their request.

Now in the course of time a certain king commanded his elephant-trappers to trap elephants. And they constructed a so-called water-trap, caught the king with his herd, three days later dragged him out with a great tackle made of ropes and things, and tied him to stout trees in that very bit of forest.
 

 

Credit: Ashok Dongre, Bolokids.com

           
         

 
   

When the trappers had gone, the elephant-king reflected thus: "In what manner, or through whose assistance, shall I be delivered?" Then it occurred to him: "We have no means of deliverance except those mice."

So the king sent the mice an exact description of his disastrous position in the trap through one of his personal retinue, an elephant-cow who had not ventured into the trap, and who had previous information of the mouse community.

When the mice learned the matter, they gathered by the thousand, eager to return the favor shown them, and visited the elephant herd. And seeing king and herd fettered, they gnawed the holding-ropes where they stood, then swarmed up the branches, and by cutting the ropes aloft, set their friends
free.

"And that is why I say:
Make friends, make friends, however strong, ....



and the rest of it."
 
 
And the Elephants Were Free
Credit: Lololon.jugem.jp (A Japanese Website)

           
         

 
   

 

 

           
         

 
   

Questions (From Text)

1. Name the main characters in this story.

2. Which proverb in this story do you find most interesting or relevant? Please write it down.

3. What learning does Vishnusharma want to teach thru this story? (100 words)

[Hint: A verse at end of previous story, repeated at end of this story, captures it.]

 
 


           
         

 
   

Projects (Internet / Library)

1. Describe two methods of trapping elephants. (75 words each)

[Hint: Six methods are listed under the heading "2. The methods of capture" in Link-1 .  'Khedda' method of capturing elephants is depicted at Link-2 . An interesting page on elephants - not connected with this - is at Link-3 .]

2. Elephant is the largest land animal. Write a brief note on domestication of elephants and their use in war (150 words). [Hint: Visit Link-1 .]

3. Elephant are an intelligent animal. They can be trained to paint. Watch an elephant painting at Link-1

4. One of the forms of death-penalty in ancient & medieval India was 'Crushing by Elephant.' Write a brief note on this practice. Is death penalty abolished in India?  [Hint: Visit Link-1 .]

 
 


           
         

 
   

Activities (Home / School)

1. Paint and/or illustrate the most interesting proverb. Display on school notice-board.

2. Read the story aloud to others.

3. Read the story and then re-tell it. Don't memorize. Re-telling won't be perfect which is okay!

(i) Re-tell in your own words to others.
(ii) Re-tell in your mother tongue to a younger brother or sister.

4. 'The Lion and the Mouse' story in Aesop's Fables (Greece) is very similar to this Panchatantra story. Write Aesop's version in your own words / Re-tell in the class. [Hint: Visit Link-1 .]

5. How is this largest land animal tamed for domestication? If "mugging" for exams and "bookish knowledge" is rewarded in schools - thereby giving low importance to understanding the subject, original thinking, initiative, imagination - then will the latter behaviors disappear in children? - Discuss (30 minutes). [Hint: Visit Link-1 .]

6. Role Play the story in your class. Reading from text has to be perfect. Click here for more Guidelines.

7. Enact this story as a drama or as a dance-drama.

 
 


           
         

 
   

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An elephant, with a mouse on his head & another on back - nibbling on theropes
Candi Mendut (Temple) Borobudur, Indonesia

 

           
Panchatantra
   
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