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THE ELEPHANT THAT WAS HONORED IN OLD AGE
AND the Buddha as Prime Minister served the King. Now there
was a certain She-Elephant endowed with great might which
enabled her to go a hundred leagues a day. She did the
duties of messenger to the King, and in battle she fought
and crushed the enemy. The King said: "She is very
serviceable to me."
He gave her ornaments, and caused all honor to be shown
her. Then, when she was weak from age, the King took away
all the honor he had bestowed.
From that time she was unprotected, and lived by eating
grass and leaves in the forest.
And one day the chief Potter had not enough oxen to yoke
to the carts which carried the material for making clay.
And the King said: "Where is our She-Elephant?"
"O King! she is wandering at her will in the forest."
And the King said: "Do thou yoke her to the cart."
And the Potter said: "Good, O King!" And he did even as
the King commanded.
But when this insult was offered to the Elephant, she
came to the Prime Minister and said: "O Wise Being! I
pray you listen to my tale. When I was young, great
strength was mine; and I did walk a hundred leagues to
bear the King’s messages, and, with weapons bound upon
my body, I did take part in battle, crushing the enemy
beneath my feet. And now I am old, and the King hath
withdrawn all the honors he bestowed upon me, and not
content with allowing me to wander and feed on grass,
unprotected in my old age, he has even caused me to
be yoked to the Potter’s cart as are the oxen."
Then the Buddha promised that he would plead her cause,
and appearing before the King, he asked: "Great King,
did not a She-Elephant covered with weapons do battle
for thee; and on such and such a day, with a writing
upon her neck, did she not go a hundred leagues on a
message? Thou didst bestow upon her great honor. I pray
thee tell me, where is she now?"
And the King, in some confusion, made answer: "Behold,
she is yoked to a cart."
Then did the Buddha speak in sorrowful anger to the
King, and rebuked him, saying: "Thou hast yoked this
Elephant to a cart after all the services she has
rendered. Then was the honor only bestowed because of
more services expected?"
And all who heard him received his instruction, and the
King restored the She-Elephant to her former place of honor.