the moon’s ambassador

Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川広重) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川広重) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There stands a Great Lake and on the bank of this Great Lake dwells a Great King.

The waters of the Great Lake were crystal clear and they reflected so perfectly the face of the Moon in the night sky that it was almost as if the Lake was the dwelling place of the Moon.  The name of this great expanse of water was Chandrasaras – Moon Lake.

750px-Flickr_-_schmuela_-_nice_hareThe name of the Great King who lived on the banks of Chandrasaras with all his subjects was Silimukha – the King of the hares. The hares were numerous and fearless, lying in the forms by day and playing and eating at evening time when they would come down to the Great Lake to drink and gaze in wonder at the Moon’s reflection.

Now it came about that there was a great drought across the land and all the reservoirs and rivers began to dry up, all except the Great Lake which was so vast.  One evening the hares of the Great Lake were troubled by a thunderous noise in the far distance.  Could this be the breaking of the drought?  Being curious creatures all the hares gathered together to see what this fearsome noise could be.

The thunderous noise was getting closer and closer.

But it was not thunder.  The approaching storm was Chaturdanta, the King of the Elephants, and his herd of elephants heading towards the Great Lake.  In their great thirst the elephants charged along the banks to get to water, trampling to death many of Silimukha’s subjects.  Having quenched their thirst the elephants departed.

1280px-Tétradrachme_en_argent_de_SicileThe hare King grieved at the sight that befell him.  He turned to those that had survived and cried out – “Now that Chaturdanta has discovered our lake he will return and we shall all be utterly destroyed.”  Silimukha turned to another hare, known for his great guile and cunning and said to him “Vijaya, Go to Chaturdanta, King of the Elephants, speak to him, for I know you are a skilled speaker and if any has the ingenuity to divert this calamity it is you , O Vijaya.”

And so Vijaya leapt along the track in search of the King of the Elephants until he cam to were Chaturdanta and his family were resting.  Vijaya saw a large rock beside where the elephants were grazing, so leapt onto the rock until he reached the top.  Looking down on the elephants, Vijaya took a deep breath and proclaimed as loud as he could “I am the ambassador of the moon and I have been sent to you with this message from my master, the great moon god – who dwells in the cool waters of the Great Lake Chandrasaras.  There dwell the King of the hares and his tribe, they are known to me and I love them well.  Now, O Chaturdanta, you have defiled the lake and slain those hares of mine.  If you should dare to so defile the lake again, my retribution will be swift and it will be harsh.”

The King of the Elephants began to tremble at these words and begged forgiveness of the ambassador.

“That is not mine to give” said the sly hare, “But come with me, my friend and I will take you to the great Moon god so you may see for yourself.”

So saying, the hare led the King of the Elephants to the Great lake and showed him the Moon in the water.  The Elephant king bowed down before the reflection and vowed never to return.

© Copyright Brian Robert Marshall and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

And he never did.

The King of the hares and all his subjects witnessed Vijaya’s triumph over the Elephants and conferred on him the title “Ambassador of the Moon”.

Based on  an mythical Indian tale, one of many from around the world where the hare is linked with the moon.




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