Brain, brawn or both?

Their size, their valour, their might, and their unity were well-known throughout the forest. There were quite a few young ones in the herd too and they always attracted hungry tigers and lions. But every tigress or lioness who dared to chase the herd had faced a dark and dismal end.

Once, even the king of the jungle, a mighty lion, had wanted to take revenge for his wife’s death. He had arrived with three of his strong brothers, but Gagana and her elephants proved to be mightier than the mightiest!

After this incident Gagana began to think of herself as the true queen of the jungle. She referred to her herd as her ‘strong knights’.

One summer, the lake that Gagana’s herd frequented dried up completely. Along with a scarcity of water, there was a terrible shortage of food in the jungle. Gagana had noticed some sugarcane fields on the outer reaches of the forest. One night, she decided to take her herd to the sugarcane fields. They had a wonderful time, feasting on the juicy sugarcane. They even broke a water pump or two  in the fields, and when the water came gushing out the thrilled elephants not only quenched their thirst greedily, they also frolicked in the jet sprays!

The elephants decided to come back to the sugarcane fields the next night and the night after. In fact, they decided to spend every remaining summer night in the sugarcane fields!

But, the farmers who owned these fields weren’t very happy with what the elephants were doing to their crop. Their harvest was being destroyed by the unruly herd. So the farmers decided to teach the herd a lesson. One night a group of 50 farmers lay in wait for the herd. They attacked the marauding elephants with sticks and stones. Gagana and her herd fought back. But the farmers proved to be smarter. Irritated by the farmers’ beatings, Gagana turned her ire against one particular farmer, lifted him up in the air and tossed him high. The poor man was badly injured. This scared the other farmers and they ran away, taking the injured farmer with them. It was only the next morning that they realised their fight with the elephants had made the herd very angry, leaving their fields in a shambles.

The farmers approached the village panchayat for advice. The wise men in the panchayat devised a plan.

They formed a team of 50 archers. The archers positioned themselves in the fields. When the herd arrived for their night of fun and feasting, the archers sent forth a volley of arrows. The elephants were confused as they could not see their attackers. But Gagana was sure this was just another ploy of  the horrible humans to keep her herd away from food and water.

It took her a few moments and a burst of light from one the flares, which the farmers were carrying,  to figure out where the archers were hiding. She charged. The archers panicked and one of them aimed an arrow that hit  Gagana in the eye. Gagana  trumpeted in pain. The herd rushed to her rescue.

Fearing that the herd would face a similar plight, she knelt down as if seeking forgiveness from the farmers. The other elephants followed suit. Recognising that the elephant leader and the herd were seeking to make peace, the archers and the farmers stopped attacking them.

They also realised that the herd was forced to enter their sugarcane fields for want of food and water in the forest. They too had been suffering a severe water scarcity, had they not?

The farmers fed the elephants and the elephants helped the farmers by towing away broken-down tractors from the middle of the fields! Gagana realised that strength is indeed valuable, but when tempered with humility, it can truly work wonders.

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