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It is believed that Lord Buddha was born as a while elephant in one of his previous incarnations, and used to live in the Himalayas. He was extremely gentle and generous. On the other hand, the herd of elephants to which he belonged was cruel, and used to kill innocent creatures. Days passed, and that fortunate day came when the Bodhisattva decided to leave the herd and live alone. He lived by himself in peaceful environs and gave help to all those who needed it.
One day, a forester from Varanasi got lost in the forest and was extremely scared. He started crying out loud for help. The white elephant saw him and approached him. He asked the forester how can he help him. The forester got relieved upon meeting the benevolent elephant. He said that he has lost his way and wish to go to Varanasi. The elephant said that he knows the way to Varanasi, but the forester should first take rest in his cave for a few days.
The forester enjoyed the tranquil environs of the forest for a few days and then decided to go back to Varanasi. The elephant asked the forester to get on his back and then moved ahead. The forester very cautiously observed the way to be able to come back, if required. They finally reached to the end of the forest and bid adieu to each other.
One day, the forester visited an ivory shop, and asked how expensive would the tusk of a living elephant be? The ivory carver replied that they are very expensive. Conquered with greed, the forester rushed to the forest and met the gentle white elephant again. He pretended to be sad and told the elephant that he needs money to clear his debt, and thus, if the elephant can give a piece of his tusk to the forester, he will be grateful.
The elephant sat down without thinking twice and asked the forester to take both of his tusks. The forester took out a saw and remove the tusks as much as he could, with just two stumps left attached to the elephant. The elephant left in great pain but was happy with the thought that his tusks would help the forester to clear his debts.
The forester then got a huge sum of money for the prime tusks. He spent the money in buying lavish goods for himself and his family. After sometime, he was left with no money and thought about visiting the forest again and meeting the elephant to get the rest of the tusks.
He went back to the forest and found the kind elephant. He asked the elephant to give the remaining tusks as he is in great need of money to live.
The gentle elephant once again sat down and told the forester that he can take whatever is left of his tusks. The elephant bravely bore the unbearable pain and hurt, just to help the forester. The forester finished his task and packed the tusks into a bag and headed back to Varanasi, saying that he is done with the elephant and he doesn’t need anything else from him as he has already got whatever he could give.
The elephant, extremely upset and saddened, watched the forester go, but did not utter even a single word. All of a sudden, the earth split open before the forester and he got encircled by fire. The forester understood that he was being punished for his wrong deed and greed, but it was too late to repent. As the fire consumed the forester, a voice shouted loud that ‘An ungrateful man is never satisfied, not even if he gets the entire world’.
The kind elephant lived the rest of his life in peace, enjoying the serenity and splendour of the magnificent Himalayas.