Once upon a time there lived a swan named Pushpak.  Pushpak lived on the shores of a lake.  The lake was in the middle of the forest.   The lake was a large one with many fish in it.  The thick forest around the lake was home to many animals.  The forest contained many trees of huge size.  The trees were very tall.  They spread their branches wide across the forest.  Many birds lived in the branches.
All the animals and birds which lived the forest would come down to the lake to drink water when they felt thirsty.  The swan, Pushpak lived there with its friends and his many relatives.  The swans would go out every morning deep into the lake.  They would feed on fish and other small sea creatures such as crabs.

The swans built their nests on the shore of the lake.  There, they raised their young babies.  The babies of swans are called cygnets.  This was the happy and beautiful life of the swans.
One day, an owl came down to the lake to drink water.  Owls had come earlier to the lake to drink water.  They too lived in the forest.  They would usually drink the water and fly away.

The swans did not mind the owls.  They went about their own business.  Over time, one of the owls became friendly with a swan.  The swan too liked the owl’s company.  The swan and the owl spent many hours together.  They became good friends.  They talked about their lives and their families.
However, many swans did not approve of their friendship.  “It is not right to talk to strange birds which are different from us”, they said, “their habits are different from ours”.  But Pushpak would not listen to them.

This went on for many days.  One day, the owl asked the swan to come over to his home.  The owls stayed in the other side of a forest, a few kilometres from the lake. 

Pushpak told the other swans of his plans to visit his new friend’s home across the forest.  They other swans tried to dissuade him from flying across to a strange place with a friend who has too different from them.  But Pushpak would not listen to them as usual.  He felt that he could make himself at home with his new friend.  Besides, he wanted to see how the owls lived.

Thus Pushpak flew off with the owl to the owl’s home in the trees.  The owl had made his home on top of a tree.  Owls are nocturnal birds, which, means that they hunt only during the night.
Pushpak struggled to keep awake at night when his friend the owl went hunting.  The owl would hunt small mice and other animals living in the forest floor.  Pushpak was beginning to grow tired of the owl’s routine.

One evening Pushpak and the owl were sitting on top of a branch.  A king was passing below the trees on the road.  He was returning from a hunting trip.  A large retinue of servants and soldiers were part of the hunting party.   The servants were carrying the animals caught in the hunt.  The soldiers were armed with spears, bows and arrows.

It was late in the evening, when the owl started to hoot.  Owls make a peculiar sound called hooting.  You can hear the sound if you happen to walk by a forested area in the evening.  The sound is considered to be inauspicious by many people.

When the king heard the sound, he was alarmed.  He was greatly disturbed, feeling that something bad was going to occur to him and to his kingdom.  The owl, though, kept on hooting.  It did not know the commotion it was causing.    The angry king ordered his soldiers to shoot at the owl.  But, it was evening time and was quite dark.  The soldiers could not see clearly.  They just shot a few arrows in the direction of the sound.

One of the arrows flew in the direction of Pushpak, the swan and hit him.  He fell down dead from the branch of the tree.  That was the sad end of the swan.

Children, this story tells us to be careful when choosing our friends.  We spend a lot of time with our friends.  Thus, is necessary to know about our friends, their habits and ideas.  Choosing a friend with bad habits or ideas can be dangerous to us.

Aquarium Tools

Some Aquarists prefer to have dedicated tools for their aquarium, particularly if it has live plants. Aquarium tools are useful for trimming and pruning the plants. They can also be used to arrange gravel, remove dead fish and scrape the aquarium surfaces to remove algae.

Different tools are available for different functions. Examples are tools such as bent scissors, tweezers, scraper etc.

Specialized Tools may be required while handling corals in marine aquariums. These tools make handling plants easy.

Aquarium Heater

Fish are cold blooded animals. They cannot regulate temperature on their own and are thus extremely sensitive to temperature. Hence, the temperature within the aquarium should be within the limits experienced by the fish in its original natural environment.

Today, fish which were once present in one part of the world are found in aquariums the world over. Hence, special attention should be given to learn about the temperature requirements of each fish and maintain the temperature.

In cold climates, fish may need a heater to increase the temperature.

Aquarium heaters are heaters encased in a ceramic tube. The tube is immersed either partially or fully in the water. The heaters have a thermostat which can maintain the heater temperature.

Some planted aquariums have a heating cable below the substrate. This helps heat the tank. Heating mats are another method of heating aquarium. The heating mat is placed below the aquarium. However, since glass is a poor conductor of heat, this method of heating is not efficient.

Chillers in Aquariums

Chillers are used in Aquarium to reduce the temperature particularly during hot seasons. When the temperature rises, the oxygen level in the water drops. Fish, being cold-blooded, are very sensitive to rise in temperature and may be come stressful.

The Deep Ocean is always cold. Hence, if you have deep sea species in your marine aquarium, you must have chillers.

Some aquariums need both heaters and coolers at different times of the day or at different seasons of the year. In such cases, there are temperature control units which have equipments for both heating and cooling.

Chillers reduce the temperature of the water by removing heat. Thermoelectric Chillers are used for small aquariums up to 55 gallons. For larger Aquariums, inline chillers need to be used.

There are also Drop in Chillers which are placed directly in the tank or in the sump.

Sump in Aquariums

A sump is a separate tank placed behind or below the main aquarium. The function of the sump is to house the equipment which may be unsightly. Equipments such as filters, sterilizers, heaters and chillers can affect the aesthetics of the tank.

Hence, in large tanks, a separate tank which is connected to the main tank serves as the sump.

Reef Tanks always have an sump as part of their design.

PowerHead for Aquariums

A Power head is a pump which sucks water from the tank and passes to to devices such as filters or UV sterilizers. Power Heads are available in a variety of formats from hang on types to submersible ones to externally fitted power heads.

Power heads can be used to create water flow patterns which simulate the natural flow in streams and rivers.

Power Heads come in various power ratings.

Timer for lighting in Aquarium

Fish need proper and cyclic lighting which simulate the natural day/night conditions. Switching on the Light the whole time or switching it off the whole time may interfere with the fish's daily cycle.

An Aquarium Lighting Timer automates the task of switching the light on and off. Light can be switched on for a pre-set duration and switched off. This is ideal for light control on a daily basis or during vacations.

Timers can be connected with any aquarium light. Some timers also enable the gradual dimming or brightening of the light to more closely light cycles in nature.

Air Powered Filters in Aquariums

Air Powered Filters are filters of small capacity which are ideal for small aquariums. These filters do not require any external power source. They are driven by the air flow from the pump.

The air is allowed to rise through a tube which drives the water upwards. This causes a suction effect in the bottom. The water from the surrounding areas enter the tube through a sponge which filters the water.

The sponge material also serves as a medium for the beneficial bacteria to grow. Thus, it also acts as a biological filter.

Selecting a net for your aquarium

Selecting a net to catch fish is important. A net should be big enough to catch the fish without injuring it. It should also be small enough for easy movement through the aquarium.

Nets are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes. There are square nets and round nets. There are nets which are fine and nets which are coarse. Coarse ones are ideal for big fish. Coarse nets can damage the fins of small fish which can get caught in the small holes.

If you have a rectangular or square tank, a rectangular net will be useful as it can fit better against the corners. If you have circular tanks, you can use circular nets.

When trying to catch the fish, position the net close to the fish without startling it. This will help prevent the difficult chases across the aquarium which can damage the plants and other fitments.

Some people lower the water level when they are catching difficult fish.

Another technique is to use two nets and drive the fish into one using the other.

Air Pump in an Aquarium

An Air pump is a critical and important equipment in indoor aquarium which are mostly enclosed. The Air pump helps keeps dissolved oxygen levels in the aquarium within limits.

The Air pump pumps air into the aquarium which is released through an air stone or through a filter.The bubbles which are released agitate the surface of the water and make the exchange of oxygen possible.

Air Pumps work on domestic AC supply. They are powered by an electromagnet motor which operates a bellow. Multiple connections can be taken from the same air pump depending on the capacity.

Keep the Air pump as close to the tank as possible. The Tubing should have a regulating valve to control the air flow.

Function of an Air stone in an Aquarium

An air stone is a special piece of porous stone through which air from an air pump is passed. The many holes on the porous surface of the air stone serve to release air as many small bubbles which is pleasing to look at.

The bubbles agitate the water in the surface and help in oxygenation.

There are wooden air stones as well which are made from special types of wood such as tila. Today, there are synthetic airstones as well which are made from fiberglass.

Air stones may need to be cleaned periodically for better flow.

Setting up a Saltwater Aquarium

A saltwater aquarium seeks to recreate a sea environment in your living room.  A saltwater aquarium can be an extremely fulfilling hobby and a great learning experience.

Setting up and maintaining a saltwater aquarium is not a difficult job as many people think.  A basic understanding of how the aquarium works is enough. A Saltwater aquarium is only slightly different from a freshwater aquarium.  The difference is obvious. It has saltwater instead of fresh water.

This saltwater has to be made by mixing salt and water at the right proportion to get the right specific gravity.  This is measured by a hydrometer.
A Saltwater Aquarium

A saltwater aquarium needs more space than a freshwater aquarium as it requires special filtration and  monitoring equipment.  It is better to place it in the centre of the room.

Saltwater fish are used to living in the ocean with limitless space.  Hence, a saltwater aquarium should be bigger.  Each fish should have a per capita area of at least 10 gallons.

A Saltwater aquarium will need some accessories such as lighting, filters, heater and a hydrometer.  The tank should be located near an electrical outlet to draw power for the accessories.

Mix water and salt till you get a salt solution with a specific gravity between 1.021 and 1.025.  The temperature of saltwater is also important as it affects the specific gravity measurement and the salinity.  A temperature of around 27 degrees Celsius should be maintained.

Leave the saltwater overnight with the filtration equipment running.  Check the temperature and the specific gravity the next morning.

If the values are ok, you can proceed with adding the gravel and fixing the decorations and the plants.

You can run the aquarium without the fish for 2 days for the tank to stabilize.

Introduce the fish, two at a time into the tank.

Preparing Artificial Sea Water for Aquariums

A Marine Tank requires periodic water changes. The water for the marine tank can be obtained directly from the sea through aquarium suppliers or can be mixed at home.

Artificial seawater is obtained by mixing marine salt mixes available at your pet store. These mixes contain salts along with the ions and trace elements found in the sea.

The salinity and the specific gravity are two important parameters to be checked before adding the water to the aquarium.

Specific gravity is measured with a hydrometer while salinity is measured with a refractometer.

Wave makers for the Aquarium – An Overview

A Wave maker is a pump which simulates the wave action in a freshwater body or in the sea. Wave makers come in various capacities, sizes. They can also simulate the wave action in different environments such as a freshwater stream or an ocean reef.  Wave makers are usually fitted in marine aquariums where they simulate the natural wave action or the sea.

Organism such as corals and anemones are fixed. They depend on the ocean currents and the waves to bring them the nutrients which they absorb from the water. In the absence of wave action in the aquarium, these organism will not be able to draw sustenance from the environment. A wave maker circulates the water and helps these species get their nutrition
Wave Maker

Wave makers circulate the water and ensures the flow of oxygenated water throughout the aquarium. This ensure that the water does not stay stagnant at any single place.

Stagnant pockets of water in the aquariums result in the accumulation of dirt and detritus in specific locations such as behind rocks or plants. The circulation of water by wave makers ensure that these debris are carried away to the filters and removed.

Aesthetics is another reason for the wave maker. Wave makers give a natural feel the aquarium. The flow of water has a soothing effect on the viewers. Fish also feel more relaxed in a moving water environment.

While wave makers have benefits. They should be properly positioned. The output of the wave maker should not be too strong that it disturbs the aquarium set up and stresses the fish.

Protein Skimmers in the Aquarium 

Protein Skimmers are devices used in marine aquariums to remove unwanted proteins floating in the water. Proteins can originate from decomposing organic matter such as fish waste and plant detritus.

Protein Skimmers work by creating a large air/water interface by using a large
Protein Skimmer
 amount of bubbles which are allowed to pass through a water column. The water bubbles rise to the surface along with the proteins which are attracted to the bubbles. In addition to proteins, these skimmers also remove fatty substances, carbohydrates, bacteria, etc.  The result is a foamy layer of liquid in the skimmer. This foamy layer gets thicker as more and more proteins rise to the surface. This Foamy layer is then removed.

Proteins Skimmers are used in marine aquariums where periodic water changes are not possible. They reduce the load on the main filtration systems.

Protein Skimmers cannot be used in freshwater aquariums as the density of freshwater is lesser than the saltwater of marine tanks. Thus, the fine bubbles which can be created in the marine aquariums for higher air/water interface cannot be created in the freshwater aquarium.

Protein Skimmers can be used in freshwater aquariums which are overstocked. However, these are extremely rare.

Keeping the fish population under control is a necessary part of having a good aquarium. While it may seem difficult to get fish to breed in initial stages of an aquarium. Once the right conditions are made available, it is difficult to stop fish from breeding.
Fish breed in large numbers. Live bearers such as guppies and platies give birth to about 15 to 30 young ones while egg-laying fish such as goldfish, bettas produced hundreds of young ones.In the wild, the population is kept in check by natural predators and the scarcity of food. 
However, in the aquarium food is plentiful and predators are absent. Thus, the population will start to increase in the aquariums. Thus, there is no way of keeping the population in check. This results in overcrowding and disease.

Hence, it is necessary to control the population of the aquarium.

Methods of controlling aquarium fish population

There are several methods of keeping the population in check

Selling fish

This is one of the best ways of regulating the number of fish. This also helps you make some money out of your hobby. While newborn fry cannot be sold. Fish that are a few weeks or months old can be sold. If you have space for a few more tanks you can use them to raise the fry.

Keeping the males and females separate

This can be done only if you have more than one tank. Some hobbyists stock their tank with fish belonging to only one gender. This, however, is unnatural and can stress the fish as it disturbs the natural routine.

Introducing one or two large predator fish

Large Predator fish can eat up the small fry. This ensures that only a few number of fish survive.

Decreasing plant cover

Small fish hide in the plants. Removing the plants in your aquarium will result in the small fish getting exposed to predators.

Stocking the Aquarium evenly

Stocking your aquarium evenly is important as it ensures optimum use of the aquarium space and a pleasant viewing experience. Fish live at different levels in the water. Hence, selecting fish which occupy the top, middle and lower level of the aquarium ensures that all the fish have more space. This prevents fights and injuries.
Fish such as hatchetfish, zebra fish are top dwelling fish. Their mouths are upturned as they feed from the surface. 
Fish such as guppies, swordtails, tetras are middle level fish. They swim in the lower levels. Gouramis are also another popular middle level fish. 
Bottom dwelling fish have mouths which are turned downwards. These fish scour the bottom of the tank for food. Examples include loaches, cory catfish and the pictus catfish.

Choosing the right location for the aquarium

Locating the aquarium in the right place in your home or office is crucial.  Here are some common tips for selecting the right place for your aquarium.

Place the aquarium at a place where you are likely to spend most of your time.

Placing the aquarium at a place where your spend most of your time ensures that you and those who visit your home enjoy the presence of your aquarium.  If it is placed in a corner where nobody goes, it can tend to get neglected.  At the same time, placing it in the centre of the room can sometimes become an obstruction as it may get in the way.

Ensure that there is adequate space around for maintenance

An aquarium requires periodic maintenance.  These maintenance activities require space for free movement of people and materials.  While choosing the place ensure that there is space around the aquarium.

Ensure the presence of electrical power supply and a water source nearby

An aquarium needs power to operate the aerator and the filter. Ensure that there is a power socket nearby to connect these equipments.  Having a water source nearby makes cleaning a lot easier.

Ensure a level location

An aquarium needs to be placed in a level location.  If it is not placed in a level location, there can be a leak or uneven stress on the tank walls which can result in a breakage.  Use a spirit level to check that the tank is properly leveled.

Keep the Aquarium Away from the Windows

Placing Aquariums near windows may result the water getting heated by sunlight.  Dust can also enter and settle on the tank and its fittings.

Make sure that the floor can bear the weight of an aquarium.

Aquariums can get quite heavy.  Some can weight hundreds of kilograms.  Ensure that the flooring of the building can support the weight.  Talk to an engineer if necessary.

Select the proper aquarium tank size

When it comes to aquarium size, it is always better to have a bigger aquarium. Bigger Aquariums give more space for fish to swim about. You have a wider choice of aquascape designs to be implemented in a bigger aquarium.

Aquariums which are bigger can house more fish and more diverse species. Aquariums which are bigger are also more tolerant of mistakes such as overdosing and delayed maintenance as the water quantity is larger.

While bigger aquariums are better. They are not always feasible.

Smaller aquariums are easier to clean occupy less space and can be placed wherever you want. It is easier for beginners to sustain interest in them.

Many aquarists buy small aquariums and regret not have a slightly bigger one after they are quite established in the hobby.

Get the optimum size for you. Keep in mind the space in your apartment and the number of fish you would like to buy.

If you are a starter, you can begin with a smaller aquarium and then as your fish collection becomes bigger, you can exchange the old aquarium (some pet shops have exchange offers) and get a new bigger one.

Choosing the substrate for your Tank

A substrate is the material at the bottom of the tank. The substrate serves to anchor the plants in the aquarium. It also serves to conceal the uneaten food and dirt at the bottom of the tank.

It also adds to the aesthetics of the tank. Choose a substrate which fits with the scheme of colors in the tank. Some substrate tend to eclipse the fish. The substrate should complement the aquarium and bring out the beauty of the plants and the fish. Look at different types of aquarium and their substrates before deciding a substrate for your aquarium.

There are many different substrates to choose from Gravel and sand are the most common substrates.


There are many types of gravel in varying sizes and colors. Gravel is simple and easy to clean. It does not irritate fish, particularly those species which love to scoop the substrate in their mouth. Gravel is available in large and small sizes. Large sizes may create spaces in between in which food and other particles can accumulate. However, larger gravel sizes are easier to clean.

Crushed Coral

Crushed coral has the effect of increasing the pH due to the calcium carbonate which is the primary constituent of shells and corals. This is used for fish species such as cichlids which are used to a higher pH level and hard water in their native environment. Crushed coral should not be used for fish used to a lower pH and soft water such as those from the amazon.


Sand is used to give a natural look to the aquarium. Sand is ideal for species which like to build nests. Other species such as stingrays like to bury themselves in sand.  There are many different types of sand available.

One of the disadvantages of sand is that it is difficult to clean. When siphoning the aquarium, sand gets vacuumed along with the dirt.

Sand also tends to compact over a period of time. This 'caking' effect needs to be periodically broken to ensure a fine texture.


Peat is made of decomposed vegetable matter. Peat is the natural substrate in many parts of the amazonia from which most tropical fish hail. Hence, if you want an aquarium mimicking the amazon basin, you can consider Peat. Peat tends to color the water slightly brown. Peat has good anti-microbial properties and is ideal for live plants.

There are also many other artificial substrate which are fertilized to support live plants. These can be purchased at your nearest pet store.

It was the first day of the year.  The students were excited to be in the new class. Manoj was one of the students in the class.  He, like all others, had been promoted to the 9th grade.  He was a very intelligent and hardworking student. In the class, he used to sit in the first row and was attentive in all his classes.  His friend Ramesh, though intelligent, was playful and mischievous in class.  He was an average student.

Soon, the class teacher entered the class and the students stood up to greet her.  She was a young lady who looked kindly at the students.  After the introduction was over, the teacher started with the lessons right away.  The first class of the day was Maths.  Maths was Manoj’s favourite subject. Manoj would solve the problems faster than anyone else.  He knew almost all the formulae and knew when to apply them.  The teacher was happy to see such an intelligent boy in class.  She praised Manoj in front of everybody.

Ramesh, however, did not concentrate in class.  He spent most of his time daydreaming.  He formed a group of friends who were like him.  He would play with those friends in the evening when Manoj would be studying.  Soon, his studies were affected.  The teacher noticed that Ramesh was not performing well and pointed it out to him.  But, Ramesh did not listen. 

Soon, the term exams came.  Manoj stood first in almost all the subjects.  The teachers were proud of him.  Ramesh did not perform well.  He failed in many subjects.  The class teacher, who had earlier warned Ramesh was angry at him.  The teacher scolded him in front of the whole class.  Ramesh was sullen and depressed for over a week. 

Manoj tried to help his friend.  He talked to Ramesh.  He offered to sit with him and help him in the difficult topics.  But Ramesh was not interested.  He went back to his playful ways and loitered about with his friends.

His performance fell even worse in the next exam.  Gradually, Ramesh began to feel jealous of Manoj.  He hated to see all the teachers praise him.  All the boys in class looked up to him as a leader.  He felt left out of the class.  Soon, the friendship between Manoj and Ramesh grew cold.  Manoj noticed the change in his friend and tried to sort out the issues.  But Ramesh did not respond.  He was happy with his new set of friends – boys like him who did not study well and played all the time.

Ramesh grew even more jealous of Manoj when he was made the class leader.  All the students clapped when the teacher made the announcement but not Ramesh.  Ramesh felt angry at the teacher and his classmates.  He felt all the more angry and alone when he failed in all the subjects in the next exam.  The teacher and the school principal were disappointed at his performance.

Ramesh came to school the next day with a long face.  All his classmates began to avoid him.  He felt all the more jealous of Manoj when someone praised him.  One day an evil idea came to his mind.  Rahul was a boy who sat next to Manoj.   Rahul’s was from a rich family.   Ramesh decided to put his wicked plan into action.  The next day was Wednesday.  Every Wednesday, the boys had a session on physical education.  They would have to go to the playground to perform some exercises.

The next day, the boys left the class to go to the play ground.  Ramesh, deliberately, waited until the other boys had gone.  He then crept across the classroom to where Rahul was sitting.  Ramesh had planned to take Rahul’s wallet and to hide it in Manoj’s schoolbag.  When Rahul would find his bag missing, he would tell the teacher, a search would be organized and the wallet would be found in Manoj’s bag.  Manoj would be called a thief, humiliated and shunned by everyone.  That was what Ramesh wanted.

 Ramesh crept across the classroom.  He checked to see if anyone was looking.  He opened Rahul’s bag and took out his wallet.  He then went to Manoj’s bag opened it and was about to put it in his bag when Manoj entered the class room.  The sports teacher had asked him to fetch a register from the cupboard.    Manoj was shocked to see what had been done.  He was angry.  Ramesh was shocked that he had been exposed.  He knew that Manoj was the class leader and could haul him up before the school teacher and the principal.  His future would be ruined if the school were to expel him.

Ramesh broke into tears and confessed to everything he had planned.  He begged Manoj to forgive him and not to tell anyone of what he had seen.  Manoj embraced Ramesh.  “I have always thought of you as my friend”, he said, “I forgive you”.  Ramesh felt ashamed of himself.  He put the wallet back in Rahul’s bag.   Manoj made Ramesh sit with him the front bench and helped him in his studies.  Soon, Ramesh’s grades began to improve.  Ramesh came to admire Manoj even more and the two boys became good friends once again.

Children, this story tells us about the damage jealousy can cause to friendship.  We should always love our friends and be happy at their successes.  This story also teaches us to be forgiving when our friends wrong us.

Once upon a time there lived a goat called Sheetal.  Sheetal made her home the forest of Ranjvan.  She lived there with her six children.  She grazed in the sweet grass which grew in the meadows.  In the evenings, she returned home. The little ones were the pride and joy of her life.

The forest was home to many predators.  Among them was Chandru, the wolf.  A wild and wicked creature, the wolf would devour any small animal which came across its path.

Sheetal was also scared of the wolf, particularly since she had her kids.  She had found a small cave at the foot of a hill.  She made a cosy and warm house inside for her family.

Every day, when she left in the morning to graze in the forest, here heart skipped a beat as she thought of her children.  She warned them about the dangerous wolf.  The little ones were too young to understand the full meaning of what she said. But they sensed that there was danger outside.  “Never open the door, children, to anyone when I am away”, she told them.   “Yes, Mamma”, the young ones nodded.  They looked so sweet and innocent.  The mother sadly bid good bye and went away into the forest.

A couple of hours later, there was loud knock on the door.  The youngest of the lot went to open the door.  But the eldest kid, Sonu sensed something amiss.  She went and pulled the young kid back. “That is not our mamma”, she said,” she would not be home so soon”.  After a short silence, there was a knock in the door. “I am your mamma, darlings. Open the door”, said a voice.  But the voice was rough and hoarse very much unlike the soft and sweet of their mother.

“You are not our mother”, the young kids said,” she does not have such a rough voice”.  The wolf was angry that his ruse had been discovered.  Frantically, he banged the door.    The kids feared that the door would give way any minute. But the door was a strong one.

Frustrated, the wolf walked back and forth in front of the cave. Sheetal had made a chimney to allow the smoke to escape from the kitchen when she was cooking.  It was a small opening.  As he was pacing in front, the wolf saw it.

He tried to jump but could not reach it.  Finally, he hit upon an idea.  He dug up mud near the cave and piled it up into a mound.  Standing on the mound, he jumped on to the opening.   As he   was trying to squeeze in, the tin pipe which was connected to the chimney gave a rattling noise.  The kids were frightened.  The wolf had returned.  They did not know what to do.

Sonu had an idea.  Entering the kitchen, she lit the stove and threw in some coals.  Soon, the hot embers were glowing.  She placed them below the opening into the chimney.

The wolf, meanwhile, was squeezing itself into the narrow pipe.  Sonu, reassured her siblings.  She put the next part of the plan to action.  Now that the wolf was inside the chimney pipe, she went and opened the door.  As he emerged out of the pipe, the wolf fell right on the smouldering coals.  The hot coals singed his fur and burnt him.  He yelped in great pain.  But he could not get out.  The little kids ran out of the cave.  Sonu quickly shut the door, locking the wolf inside.  She took his siblings and hid inside a bush near the cave.  When Sheetal returned in the evening, the kids narrated what had happened.  Sheetal was shocked.  She was full of praise for Sonu.

Now that the wolf was inside, Sheetal went around to her friends, the other goats in the forest.  She saw an opportunity to settle this once and for all.  The other goats too had suffered at the hands of the wolf.  The wolf had eaten many of their kids.  They came in a large herd to the cave.  The wolf had managed to get out of the fire.  He was in the living room.

Sheetal now opened the door.  At her signal, all the goats rushed inside.  The wolf did not know what was going on.  The angry goats fell upon the wolf and pierced him with their sharp horns.  Attacked by so many, the wolf did not stand a chance.  He bled to death at that very place.

That was the end of the wicked wolf.  Sheetal lived with her kids in peace.  The kids grew up into fine and beautiful goats.

Children, this story tell us to be careful and follow the instructions our parents give us for our safety.  It also teaches us the importance of being calm and taking quick decisions in the face of danger.

One upon a time there lived a small deer in a jungle.  The poor animal was an orphan.  Its mother had died a short while after he was born.

However, the little deer had managed to survive. He had found a small patch of grassland near a stream. The area was walled off  by sharp rocks and thorny bushes.  There was a narrow entrance through the rocks.

There was a wolf in the jungle.  The wolf was a mean and dangerous creature -a ruthless predator who would not spare any small animal he could get his paws on.    He chanced upon the rocky area while wandering in search of prey.   His sharp nose soon picked up scent of the little animal.  The poor deer was fast asleep in its shelter.

The wolf came closer and looked at the deer.  The deer, oblivious to the danger, was sleeping peacefully.  The wolf was disappointed to see that the deer was small.  He thought that he could feast on him.  But this little animal had only skin and bones.  He would provide very little meat.

The wolf hit upon a plan.  “I will fatten this animal for a few months”, he said to himself, “then, when he is plump enough, I will have him for food.”  The wolf stayed there while the deer slept.

It was evening when the deer awoke.  As he looked around, he was terrified to see the wolf.  The poor animal had never seen a wolf before with its sharp fangs and angry gaze.  The wolf sensed this.  He quickly put on a deceptive smile on his face.

“Little One! Do not be afraid.  I am not here to harm you.  I am only here to help you.”, he said.  The little deer was confused.  The wolf went on,”Your mother appeared in my dream yesterday and told me to take care of you.  She also showed this place where you live.  That is how I found you.”  Hearing this, the deer began to trust the wolf.  The wolf was pleased.

“Thank You, so much for your kindness”, the deer said.  The wolf gave a wicked grin.  From then on, the innocent deer began to trust the wolf completely.  The wolf took the deer along through the jungle.  He took him to places where there was plenty of grass.  The deer enjoyed the company of the wolf.  He was thankful for the wolf’s supposed kindness.

The other animals of the jungle observed the strange relationship of the wolf and the little deer.  The had never seen anything like this before.  The wolf would accompany the little deer almost everywhere.  The peacock was also observing this.  He was a kind bird.  He had lived in the forest for many years.  He knew that the wolf had some wicked plan.

One day, when the little deer was alone, the peacock flew down and perched beside him.  “Be careful, little one!”, the bird said, “The wolf is a wicked animal.  Do not trust him.”  The little deer was bewildered.  “The wolf is kind to me and helps me”, he thought, “How could he be wicked”.

A few weeks later, a rabbit which lived in the forest gave the same warning to the little deer.  He, too, had been observing the wolf.

By now, the deer had grown bigger.  The wolf was observing the deer greedily.  The deer had noticed the strange glances.  He wondered what the wolf was thinking.  He thought about the warnings had had received.  Soon, he understood that the wolf had some other plan regarding him.  He began to observe the wolf more closely.  The more he observed the more he became convinced that something was amiss.

The deer was getting fatter day by day.  The wolf began to sense that the time was right.  He began to put the final part of his plan to action.

One day, the deer was grazing atop a cliff.  The grass there was particularly sweet.  The wolf came near the deer with a  fake smile.  He came slowly towards the deer.  The deer began to sense danger.

The wolf came near and pounced on the deer.  But the alert deer deftly stepped aside.  The wolf lost his balance and tumbled over the cliff and fell into the deep valley below.  That was the end of the wicked wolf.

The deer was shaken by the sudden turn of events.  He went back to the forest and thanked the animals for their warning.  He lived there for many  years in peace.

Children, this story teaches us not to trust anyone blindly.  We must always be careful when people seem too friendly or helpful.  If we observe anything strange we must pay attention and talk to our parents or teachers.

Vishwaraja was the ruler of Nandpur.  He was known for his wisdom and integrity.  He ruled his kingdom wisely and well.  His subjects were happy and contented.  He was assisted in his royal duties by a council of ministers.  The council was headed by a wise minister named Chandrasena.
One day, the king summoned Chandrasena to his chambers.  Chandrasena went to meet the king.  He was surprised to see that the king was pale and weak.   The king’s personal physician was attending on him.   The king was unwell.    The king told him, “Chandrasena, I am very sick.   I will soon pass away. “.  The minister was shocked.  The king then said, “I do not have any children to rule after me.  After I am gone, you will have to search for a new king for the kingdom.”

Chandrasena was overcome with grief.  “Yes, your majesty.”, he said.   The king’s condition deteriorated steadily.  He grew increasingly weak.  A week later, the king passed away.  The kingdom plunged into sorrow.  A month of official mourning was declared.  Chandrasena presided over the funeral.

Weeks passed.  Life began to slowly return to normal in the kingdom.  Chandrasena remembered the king’s words to him.   He wanted an honest, just and kind person to ascend the throne.  Chandrasena conferred with the council of ministers.  The ministers discussed this for a long time.  They finally came out with a plan.  Chandrasena put the plan to action.

A few days later, an announcement was made.  Messengers were sent to each and every town and village in the kingdom.  Arriving at a village or town, the messengers beat a drum and summoned the people.  They, then, read the royal announcement.   A new king would be chosen from among the young men in the kingdom.  All young men who were interested should present themselves at the royal palace on a certain day.

There was great excitement among the people on hearing the news.  This sort of selection had never happened before.  Soon, young men from every town were preparing for the great day.  Every one of them wanted to become king.

As the day arrived, the prospective rulers assembled in the capital in the royal palace.  They were made to write a series of tests on various subjects.  At the conclusion of these tests, 25 of them were shortlisted.

The officials-in-charge presented them to Chandrasena.  Chandrasena was pleased with them.  They were the best that the kingdom had in terms of knowledge and intellect.  Yet, he still wanted to know if they were ready to be the king and lead the people and the kingdom into the future.

He had a plan in mind.  He summoned the young men and gave each of them a handful of seeds.  He said, “Young men, you have cleared all these tests with distinction.  I am truly proud of you all. “  But there is one last test I want you to pass.  I have given each one of you a handful of seeds.  You can go to your villages, plant the seeds in a pot and show me the crop in two months’ time.”
So saying, the minister sent the young men away.  They were received as heroes in the villages.  Each one of them was sure of becoming the king. 

Two months passed. The young men came to the capital again with the pots containing the crops.  All the pots were lush green with the fresh looking crops.  All except one.  One pot alone was barren.  All the pots were placed in a grand hall in the palace.  Chandrasena, chief of the ministers was to inspect them.

At the appointed time, Chandrasena came to the hall.  He went around and looked at the pots.  The came near the candidate with the barren pot.  He looked at him.  The young man was nervous.  Chandrasena smiled at him and said, “This is the new king”.

A great silence fell across the room.  Chandrasena explained, ”Every one of the remaining men have been dishonest.  I had dropped the seeds into hot water before giving it to you.  All of the seeds are dead.  There is no way they could have sprouted into crops.  You have replaced them with new seeds”.

The rest of the young men were ashamed.  They knew that what Chandrasena said was true. “Honesty is a great virtue”, Chandrasena said, “Only one among you is fit to be king.”

Soon, the honest young man, Vishwadutt, was crowned king of Nandpur. Chandrasena continued to serve as the head of the council of ministers.  The kingdom prospered under the wise and benevolent reign of Vishwadutt and the people lived happily.

Children, this story tells us the need to be honest.  We should have the courage to be honest even when we may appear to be at a disadvantage.  Honesty will always bring great rewards.

Once upon a time there lived a simple woodcutter named Bholu.  Bholu lived with wife and two small children in the town of Vikrampur.  Bholu was a kind and generous man.  Everyday, he went into the forest to fetch wood.

One day, Bholu went to the forest as usual.  The village carpenter had wanted to make an armchair.  Bholu was in search of a tree that would provide wood for fine furniture.  He walked about looking at the trees, one by one.

He could not find the perfect one.  As he wandered about, he did not notice that he was going deeper into the forest.    As he went further, he heard a deep roar.  Bholu froze in terror.  He had never heard anything like that before. He hid behind the trunk of a large tree.  Leaning forward, he looked around.  He saw a sight that he never expected to see.  A lion was trapped in a large cage.

The lion had sniffed the scent Bholu.  Its cries grew more and more sad.  Bholu was moved by the scene of such a large majestic animal in such a sad state.  He stepped forward and walked towards the cage.

The cage was made of iron with strong bars.  The trapped lion grew frightened on seeing Bholu.  It thought that he was the hunter.  Bholu smiled at the lion and put it at ease.

He then looked around. The door of the cage had a latch.  Bholu deftly opened the latch.  He then opened the door.  The lion realized what he was doing. He quickly got out of the door.

Bholu was happy.  He had brought freedom to a caged animal.  He turned to the lion expecting to receive his thanks and gratitude.

But to his shock, he found the lion baring his powerful teeth and uttering a loud growl that echoed across the forest.  “O foolish man”, the lion said, “You have saved me but now your are going to be my lunch”.

Bholu was surprised and angry at the lion.  He was also very afraid.  He had taken great risk and effort to free the animal.  But, the ungrateful beast wanted to eat him.

The lion moved towards him. His wild eyes shone with fierceness. His sharp teeth and his gaping mouth were a terrifying sight.  Bholu was frightened to death.  He quickly made a jump and made for the nearby tree.  He climbed fast and soon he was on a branch high away from the ground.  For now, he was safe.

The lion was angry. He let out a loud growl and walked about the tree.  “The man would have to come down eventually”, he told himself, “I will have my fill then”.

As he was thus going round the tree, an elephant happened to pass by that area.
He was puzzled to see a lion walking around a tree.  He asked what the matter was.
The lion replied, ”There is a man on top of the tree.  I am going to eat him.  I am waiting for him to come down. You can go away.”.

But Bholu from his perch up in the tree said, “O Elephant, listen to my sad tale”.  The Elephant looked up.  He saw Bholu holding tight to a branch. Bholu then told him of how he came to the forest and how he helped the lion. “Is this the way to repay someone who has saved your life?”, Bholu asked pitifully.

The Elephant understood what the matter was.  In the forest, he was known for his wisdom.  He understood the wickedness of the lion.  He thought of a clever plan.

“I do not quite understand the situation”, he said to the lion,  “You say you were in the cage and Bholu opened the cage”.  The lion nodded.  “Can you go back into the cage and show me how”.  The lion was annoyed. Nevertheless, he went inside the cage and stood. “This is where I was”, he said.  “I see”, said the elephant, moving towards the cage. He then swiftly locked the cage with the lion inside.  The lion was stunned.  “You wicked animal”, the elephant said, “you want to kill the very man who saved your life. You do not deserve freedom.”

The Elephant asked Bholu to come down.  He, then, carried a grateful Bholu on his back out of the forest.  Bholu thanked the elephant and returned home to his family. As for the lion, he remained in the cage until the hunters came.  They took and sold him to a zoo where he spent the rest of his life in a cage.

Children, this story teaches us to be grateful to those who help us.  Those who help others often put themselves in danger, we should appreciate their actions and be thankful.

Vishwadutt was a farmer who lived in the village Ashokapura.  He was a rich man who owned many acres of farmland.  Vishwadutt lived in a palatial house in the centre of the village. He lived with his wife and three children. He was a man of importance in the village and held a prominent role in the village council, the Panchayat.

Though he had money and stature in society, Vishwadutt was a selfish and greedy man.  He always wanted to have more.

Whenever Vishwadutt saw a field that he liked.  He would summon the farmer who owned it. Being a person of wealth and power, Vishwadutt was feared by the village folk.  The farmer would hasten to Vishwadutt’s house.  There, Vishwadutt would offer to buy the field for a sum of money.  Some farmers would agree to his demands.  If a farmer refused, Vishwadutt would threaten him with dire consequences.  Most of the farmers would give in and surrender their fields.

Thus, as time passed, most of the fields in the village belonged to Vishwadutt.

Just near the sprawling fields which belonged to Vishwadutt was a small parcel of land.  The field belonged to a small farmer called Ranjitdas.  Ranjitdas took good care of the field.  He lived in a small house at the edge of the field with his wife and two small children.  During the harvest, he kept some of the grains for food.  He sold the remainder of the yield.  The money was not much.  But it was enough to keep Ranjitdas and his small family fed and clothed for the rest of the year.

Vishwadutt had long had his eyes on the field.  He decided that he should the make the field his.  This small field, alone, did not belong to him.  He owned the larger field beside it.  This field lay between his field and the small river which flowed through the village.  Its advantageous location near the river and the bountiful crops which grew on it had captured his attention.

The next day, Vishwadutt summoned Ranjitdas to his home. When Ranjitdas came, he offered to buy the field. But Ranjitdas refused saying that it was the only field he had.  Vishwadutt argued, cajoled and threatened him.  But to no avail. Ranjit would not agree.

Vishwadutt was unhappy.  No had been so forthright to him so far.  Till now, he had been able to buy whatever field he desired.  He was angered by the stubbornness of Ranjitdas.
Vishwadutt felt insulted.  Here he was, a leading person in the village and a small farmer with a tiny piece of land hand declined a generous offer which he had made.  He would not let this insolence go without a response.  If he did, the matter would be known that a small farmer had stood up to Vishwadutt and soon he would lose the respect and fear he commanded among the village folk.

He could not sleep that night.  He tossed and turned in his bed thinking of how he could take the field from Ranjitdas.  While he thus thinking, an evil scheme came to his mind.  He waited for a few days. He went about as if nothing had happened.

Then, he put his evil plan into action.  One dark moonless night, he had his servants catch a donkey.  The servants tied a lighted torch to the tail of the unfortunate animal.  They, then, sent the donkey in the direction of Ranjitdas’ field.  Soon Ranjitdas’ field would be alight.  It was harvest time and the standing crops would be burned to ashes. Ranjitdas would suffer heavy losses. He would have to sell his field.  Thus, went Vishwadutt’s evil plan.

The donkey approached Ranjitdas’ field.  Ranjitdas had kept a dog in the field.  He had found the dog as a helpless pup on the streets.  He had raised it as a pet for his family.  As soon as the donkey came near, the dog ran towards the intruder and barked.  The donkey panicked and ran in the opposite direction where Vishwadutt’s fields lay.

The servants tried to chase the donkey away. But the frightened animal ran into the fields.  Soon, Vishwadutt’s fields were on fire.  The servants tried everything they could to put it out.  The fire, however, continued to spread as the wind blew towards Vishwadutt’s fields and soon the fields were reduced to ashes. In the morning, Vishwadutt was shocked to see the devastation in his fields.  He had learnt his lesson.  No longer did he try to harass Ranjitdas.

Children, this story teaches us to be humble.  We should respect people who are poorer than we and come from less privileged backgrounds.  This story also teaches us not to be greedy.  Every evil scheme will eventually backfire on the person who designed it.

Once upon a time there lived a herd of elephants in the forests adjoining the foothills of the mighty Himalayas.

The herd was led by a beautiful white elephant.  The elephant was wise and kind to his subjects.  He lived with his elderly mother.  The mother elephant was advanced in years and was weak.  She was also blind.  Her dutiful son, the white elephant, took great care of his mother.  He loved her very much.

One day, one of the elephants came across a man wandering in the forest.  The man was famished and disheveled.  His clothes were dirty and he was in a bad state.  The White elephant was immediately informed of the intruder.  The white elephant approached the man.  The frightened man only ran further away.

The White elephant went close to him.  “Do not be afraid”, he said, “we have come to help you”.    The man, who had by now overcome his fear, narrated his sad story.  “I am from a party of woodcutters who were chopping wood in these forests”, he said.  “I went deeper into the forest in search of wood and soon discovered that I was lost”, he sobbed.  He said that he was wandering desperately to get out of the forest for seven days.

The White elephant took pity on him.  He knew the way out of the forest.  He took him to his dwelling and gave him fruits to eat.

A few days later, the White Elephant asked one of the elephants to guide him on the way home.  The man, whose name was Ghanshyam, thanked the elephant very much.

 Ghanshyam came out of the forest and found his way to Benaras.    Just then he heard the news of the death of the Royal Elephant of the King of Benaras.  The whole city of Benaras and the Royal household were in a state of mourning.

As soon as the period of mourning was over, the officials of the palace set about searching for a new elephant which would be the Royal Elephant.  They promised a reward of ten thousand gold coins to someone who would suggest a good elephant.

Ghanshyam suddenly remembered the White Elephant.  He recalled its stately appearance and grand bearing.  If only, he could catch the elephant and give it to the king, he would be a rich man.  In his greed, he had forgotten his debt of gratitude to the kind elephant.

The wicked Ghanshyam approached the Chief Minister and told of his adventure and the white elephant.    Ghanshyam, offered to lead them to the elephant.

A few days, the minister assembled a group of mahouts and other elephants from the royal stables.  A detachment of soldiers were also to accompany the group into the forest.    Ghanshyam took the royal party straight to the pond where the elephants used to bathe.

The royal party positioned their own trained domestic elephants around the lake and sealed all the escape routes.  Unfortunately, for the white elephant, that day he had come to bath with only a couple of his close friends.  The other elephants were in another part of the forest.    Outnumbered and surrounded, the white elephant was caught.

Soon, mahouts atop the tame elephants threw thick ropes over the white elephant and tied him.  The White elephant was led away from the forest to Benaras.  The White elephant was heartbroken when he thought of his poor blind mother.

In Benaras, the white elephant was the talk of the town.  The king was also impressed with the new elephant.  He admired the white complexion of the elephant and his graceful poise.

Soon, the White elephant was decked with all the finery reserved for the elephant of state.  He was then led to the royal stables where a special enclosure was ready for him.  The minister ordered the choicest foods to be placed before him.  But the White elephant did not touch him.  He was depressed.  The king noticed his moody appearance.  He thought that it was due to the stress of capture.

But the white elephant never recovered from his depression.  He was constantly thinking of the forest and his mother.  The king was concerned.  He went down to the royal stables to find the reason for the elephant’s sadness.

The elephant told him the reason for his sadness.  He told him of his poor mother and how he was separated from her and was always thinking of her.  The king was deeply moved.
He was angry with his ministers for having been so cruel.  The next day, he ordered his minister to return the white elephant to the forest.  The white elephant thanked the king and returned to the forest to be with his mother.

The king, made one of his own elephants, the royal elephant.  He ruled Benaras for many years wisely and well.  The White elephant lived in the forest for many years with his mother and his companions.

Children, this story tell us to not to be considerate towards others and their feelings.   If we have unknowingly caused sadness to others, we need to correct our mistakes.

Bholeram was a watchman working in the city of Sundarpur.  Bholeram had lived there for many years.  He worked at a palatial bungalow in the heart of a city, owned by a rich merchant.
Bholeram was extremely loyal to his employer.  He had reason to be.  The merchant was kind to Bholeram and treated him well.  Bholeram worked in the night, looking after his master’s bungalow.  Every evening he would leave his house which was just outside the town and walked towards his master’s house.

It would be late in the evening by the time he reached the house.  He had a torch and a stick with him.    The Bungalow was located in a sprawling area.   It was surrounded by a tall compound wall.   Bholeram went around the house once, checking the various places inside the compound.

He then took his place at his post near the gate.  One night while he was, thus, on duty, he went to see if all was ok.  The night was like any other night.  It was warm and the sky was clear.  The moon shone in the beauty of its full form.  In the moonlight, he could see fairly well.

As he was thus walking around the compound, he stumbled on something in the dark.  Quickly recovering his balance, he looked down to see what it was.  He lit his torch to see what it was.  It was a shiny object half-buried in the soil.  He lifted it up to see what it was.  It was a lamp.  Its shiny surface was covered by mud.  It also had a lid on top.

Curious to see what was inside, Bholeram lifted the lid.  The lamp began to shake and a whooshing sound emerged from inside.  Bholeram was stunned.  He was about to throw the lamp away when a smoky creature emerged from inside.  The creature was like a ghost.  It had a kind face with a big smile.  The creature smiled at Bholeram.  Bholeram, though, was too rattled to smile back.

The creature said, “Do not fear.  I am Manus.  I am a genie.  I have been bottled up here in this bottle for many hundreds of years.  You have released me from bondage.  I am grateful to you”.

Bholeram had regained his composure by now.  “That is ok! It is alright!”, he stammered.  Manus, the genie, smiled again and said, “I am thankful.  I would like to reward you with three wishes.  You can ask me for whatever you want.  You will not see me after that.”

Bholeram was surprised to hear this.  He had always been a contented man, happy with his life.  His father and his grandfather had been watchmen before him.  “I will leave you for a couple of hours to think”, the Genie said, “I will come back just before daybreak.  You can tell me your three wishes”.  Saying this, the genie disappeared into the darkness.

The hours flew by.  In a short while, it would be dawn.  Bholeram could not even believe what had happened.  Bholeram thought long and hard.   He could not think of anything.  He then hit upon an idea.
The genie returned as promised just before daybreak.  Bholeram looked up at the smoky figure in front of him.  The Genie said, “I am happy to see you again, Bholeram. Please let me know your wishes.  Bholeram thought for an instant and said, “I want a big Bungalow as my first wish”.  The Genie smiled.  “It is granted.”, he said, “You will find a bungalow a short distance outside the town tomorrow”.

“What is your next Wish?”, the Genie asked.  Bholeram replied, “I want a good master to be the owner of that house.”  The genie was perplexed.  He had not heard of any such thing at any time.  Nevertheless, he granted that wish as well.

Then the Genie said, “What is your last and final wish?”.  Bholeram said, “I want a job in the bungalow as a watchman”.  The Genie tried hard to suppress his laughter.  “This is granted too”, he said and disappeared.

Bholeram went out of town the next morning and found the bungalow with the master just as the Genie said.  Sure enough, there was a vacancy for a watchman.  Bholeram happily joined his new job and remained there for the rest of his life.

Children, this amusing story tells us to think big.  Bholeram could have asked for a lot of things for himself and for his family.  But as his vision was narrow, he could not visualize anything bigger than his present circumstances.

We too are often too caught up in the present level that we do not think of improving ourselves or our situation for something bigger and better in life.  This story teaches us to think big and beyond our present situation so that when the opportunity presents itself, we may be able to seize it.

Once upon a time, there lived a washerman called Ravidas. Ravidas lived in a small village.  Everyday, he would go from house to house and collect the clothes to be washed. He put the clothes in a cart he brought along. The cart was drawn by a bull.

He then made his way to the banks of the river which flowed near the village.  He washed the clothes in the waters of the river. In the evening, he went and handed the clothes to their owners.

Ravidas was a kind man and took good care of his bull.  The bull was fed well.  He had a clean and spacious shed to stay.

But, the bull was a lazy and thankless animal.  He always felt a false sense of importance and thought of work as a burden.  He hated carrying the load.  He wanted to lounge in his shed all day and while away the time.  One day, a wicked idea crossed the bull’s mind.

The next day, Ravidas went about his daily routine.  He collected the clothes from the villagers,  went down to the river and washed the clothes.  In the evening, he was returning to the village.

The wicked bull was waiting to put his plan into action.  A short distance from the river bank was a small canal.  The canal carried muddy water from the village.  The canal was just a few inches deep.  Every day, Ravidas would drive through the canal.  The wheels of the bullock cart were tall enough to pass through the water.  The cunning bull pretended to stumble while crossing the canal.  As the bull buckled, the cart tilted to one side.  The washed clothes on the cart slid across and fell into the muddy water.

Ravidas was shocked.  He jumped from the cart and picked up the clothes from the canal.  They were soiled in the muddy water.

Ravidas was distraught.  “What will I tell the villagers?”, he asked himself, “How will they trust me again with their clothes?”.  It was late in the evening and everyone would be waiting for their clothes.  He thought of his reputation and how it would be damaged.

He quickly collected the clothes and drove the cart home.  He told the villagers that he was unwell and that he would return the clothes the next afternoon.  The next morning, he hurriedly went to the river and washed the clothes again.  It was a difficult job.  The stains were difficult to remove.  After a lot of scrubbing , Ravidas finally managed to remove the stains.  He then dried them and returned them to the owners that evening.

The bull was happy.  “Now, the master will not ask me to work any more”, he told himself.

Ravidas saw through the bull’s plan. He knew that the bull stumbled intentionally.  “I will teach him a lesson”, he told himself.

The next day, he went to the shed where the bull was kept and fed him as usual.  His wife, Ragini, was also with him.  She helped in cleaning the shed.  “Ragini”, he said, “I think our bull is getting old and weak. He stumbled the other day while crossing the canal”.  The bull was keenly listening to Ravidas.  Ravidas was aware of this.  He continued, “I think he can no longer work.  If this happens again, we will have to send him to the slaughterhouse where he can be used for meat.  We will buy another bull.”

The bull was shocked on hearing this.  He was going to be killed.  He cursed himself for the trick which had backfired. Fear and dread seized him as he thought of the butcher’s knife in his throat.  He felt angry at himself on how he had thrown away his life on a silly plan. 

He began to feel remorseful.    “Here, I get the best of food and a place to stay”, he thought to himself, “and I have chosen to deceive master and to harm his business.” He could barely sleep that night.  “I will work harder from tomorrow”, he told himself, “maybe, then,  master will spare me”.

The next day, he dutifully carried Ravidas and the clothes to the river and back.  He worked harder than usual.  Ravidas noticed the change in the bull.  He knew that his plan had worked.

 Children, this story teaches us to be sincere to others and to work with dedication.   All of us have a role to play in society and we should do our duty wholeheartedly and to the best of our ability.

It also teaches us to be thankful to those who take care of us.  We should be appreciative of them and never let them down.

Pankaj and Ravi were two friends who lived in a small village near the town of Vikramgarh.  They had known each other since they were little children.  They played along the same dusty roads of the village and attended the same school.

Their fathers were weavers who lived in the village and they lived in adjacent houses. The two boys grew up and went to school together. The school did not have a proper building.  In fact, it did not have a building at all!  The lessons were taught under the shade of a banyan tree.  The tree was so large that the branches spread over a wide area, providing shade and shelter.

Every morning, Pankaj and Ravi would go there along with the other children in the village.  The classes were conducted by an elderly schoolmaster.  They would return home in the evening when the classes were over.

This was their daily routine.  The years passed and the boys grew older.  When they were about 15 years old, their parents decided to put them in a bigger school.  The school at their village only taught them up to the 10th standard.  They had to go to a higher school for further education.

Their parents had planned to put them in a school at Vikramgarh.  It was a big school and the boys were excited about going there.  It didn’t take them long to get accustomed to the new school and their new surroundings.  They made new friends as well.

Every day, they would have to walk across a forested area which lay between their village and the town to get to their school.   The forest was thickly wooded with tall trees.   Then, they had to cross a river.  The river, though, was not deep.  All they needed to do was to roll up their trousers and wade across the water.

One day, Pankaj and Ravi were returning from school as usual.  It was evening and the sky was starting to get dark.  They crossed the river and entered the forest. Suddenly, they saw a dark figure looming in the distance. Their hearts pounded faster as they realised what it was.  They froze in fear.  It was a bear! The bear stared at them.  It too, was surprised!

For a moment, the boys stood there motionless.  Then, all of a sudden, Pankaj jumped over a bush, ran some distance and climbed a tree.  He was now safe.  But Ravi was left behind and was terrified. The bear started moving towards him.  It let out a terrible roar and ran towards him.  Ravi was trembling with fear.  Suddenly, he hit upon an idea.

He fell down as if he was dead.  The bear jumped over him and began to sniff him.  But Ravi lay absolutely still. He did not even dare to breathe.   He had remembered that bears do not eat prey that had already been killed.   The bear was confused to see Ravi not moving at all.  It went round him in circles and then flipped him over with its powerful paws.

While his eyes were almost completely closed, Ravi could still see the terrifying nails in the paws of the bear.  It would just take one move to slash him into two.  The bear sniffed him for some more time.  It then let out another terrible roar.

From his perch in the tree, Pankaj could only watch. He was helpless.  He felt guilty that he had abandoned his friend.  He could not see clearly as it was dark.  But he could see the bear sniffing his friend.

Luckily for Pankaj, the bear did not bother to look at him in the tree.  It stood there for a while and then left.

Ravi remained motionless for a few more minutes.  He then opened his eyes slightly to see if the bear had really left.  In the distance, he could hear its angry growls.  He slowly got up.  Pankaj came down from the tree too.  He was very ashamed to see his friend.  In the moment of danger, he had abandoned him.

He said sorry to Ravi for abandoning him out of fear.  Ravi accepted his apology.  Pankaj and Ravi continued their journey and returned home safely.

Children, this story tells us about the need for presence of mind.  Ravi was quick to remember something he probably heard a long time back.  That bears always eat only freshly killed prey.  He pretended to be dead and that saved his life.

Once upon a time, there lived a duck on the shore of a lake.  It had recently laid a clutch of eggs.  It was sitting on those eggs patiently.  Unknown to the duck, a farmer who had found an abandoned swan’s egg had placed it in its nest.

Her patience bore fruit.  A few days later, the eggs hatched and fluffy and yellow ducklings were born.  But one of her eggs alone did not hatch.

The egg hatched two days later. When the mother duck looked at what came out.  She was shocked.  A black and ugly young chick struggled out of the egg shell.  When the other ducklings saw the dark young one, they made fun of it.

“Ugly one! Go away!”, they said.  No one wanted to be friends with such an ugly creature.  The poor young chick was extremely sad.  The mother duck tried to be kind to the grey chick.  But when the chicks would go swimming in the lake with the  other ducklings, every other chick would be bright yellow in colour, except for the dark colored chick.  She always stood apart.

No one wanted to be near her.  The months passed and the chicks grew bigger.  The grey chick went about her lonely life.

One day, the grey chick felt that she had had enough.  She went to the mother duck.  “Mom”, she said with tears, “You have been good to me.  However, I feel that I cannot be one among the others here.  I am going away to find a place for myself in the big world”.  The mother duck was shocked.  She asked the grey chick to change her mind.  She knew how tough the lake was for the young chick.  “Stay for a few more months, the other chicks may accept you”, the mother said with tears.

But the grey chick had made up her mind.  The mother duck reluctantly let her go.

The grey chick was now alone in the world.  She wandered about.  She tried to make friends with a family of rabbits who lived in the fields adjoining the lake.  The rabbits were a kind and generous lot.  The grey chick made its home with them for a few weeks.  However, it could not feel at home.  Their ways of life were different.  It bid them good bye and wandered still further.

A kind farmer passing by was surprised to see a little chick wandering alone.  He gently lifted the chick in his arms and carried her home.  The farmer’s little children were happy to have a new pet.  They gave the chick some food and kept her in a cage.  But the chick felt unhappy in her new surrounding.  She longed for the open space and freedom.  One night, she managed to get out of the cage and left the farmer’s house.

She was on her own once more.  Hungry and exposed to the elements, the helpless chick trundled along.  She managed to find a small cavity in a rock where she stayed.  She ate the moss and the weeds which grew along a lake for food.

As it went about its lonely existence, it chanced upon a flock of swans which had landed on the lake.  The swans were migratory birds.  They had made a temporary halt on their way to the northern countries during summer.

The young chick felt attracted towards the swans.  But she was scared.  “What if they make fun of me and chase me away?”, she thought for a second.  But some unknown impulse made her walk towards them.  To her surprise, the swans noticed her and went about their work.  She went close to them.  She felt strangely happy.  She did not know why.

The grey chick stayed with the swans for the next few weeks.  She was growing up fast.  She did not notice it.  She resembled the swans she lived with more and more as the days passed.    One day, the swans took to the sky.  The grey chick, driven by a strange urge, tried to imitate them.  It started flapping it swings and lo! and behold, the unbelievable happened.  It began to soar in the air.  For a moment it was startled and afraid.  However, it managed to keep aloft.   The joy of the grey chick knew no bounds.  It had grow into a graceful swan and had not known it.

The happy chick lived with the flock as a beautiful swan for many years.  It had at last found acceptance and happiness.

Children, this story tells us not to be ashamed of our unique qualities.  We may be different from others.  But that does mean that we are inferior to them.  Similarly, we should also respect others from a different background and culture.

Once upon a time there was a pond called Sukhsagar.  The pond was small.  It was home to two fish.  One was called Sahasrabuddhi and the other Dharmabuddhi.  The two fish had lived there for a long time.  They fed on the green algae which grew on the pond floor.    The pond was home to numerous fishes and other small animals like crabs and shrimps.  The fishes lived a calm and quiet life.  There were no predators to threaten them.

The pond was thus a safe place where all its inhabitants led their own quiet lives.  The pond was not far from a nearby village.  Every now and then, people would come from the village to the pond.  Little boys would come over to swim in its calm waters.  Sometimes, women would bring their laundry to wash in the pond.

It so happened that one day a couple of fishermen were passing by the pond.  They had been fishing in another pond a few miles away.  The pond caught their attention on their way home.  The two of them had been talking about the pond.  Said one to another, “This is a small pond. But, why don’t we dredge the pond and take what’s in it?”. “Not a bad idea”, said the other,” We may find at least a few fish and some crabs”.

Sahasrabuddhi, the fish had overheard this conversation.    He was alarmed.  He hurried swam down to Dharmabuddhi who was relaxing in the floor of the pond amidst some water plants.  Dharmabuddhi was a fish who lived for the day.  He did not think much about the future or anything else.  He loved to feed and relax.  He was also a bit lazy by nature.

When Sahasrabuddhi came down and narrated what he had just heard.  He could scarcely contain himself.  “Alas! We are doomed.” he cried,” We will be caught and cooked for food by those wicked men.  We must leave this pond at once”.  Dharmabuddhi, ever the lazy one, did not even move.  “Perhaps, you did not hear them properly.  Perhaps, they did not mean what they said”, he said with an air of dismissal.

Sahasrabuddhi tried to convince his friend by to no avail.  Dharmabuddhi would not listen. “You can leave if you want.  I am not coming.   I know special tricky water movements with which I can fool the most expert of fishermen”, he bragged.

Saharasrabuddhi left his friend in the pond floor and rose to the surface.  It was late in the evening.  The sun was setting and the creatures of the pond were settling down for the night.  He thought deeply of what he could do to save himself.

Suddenly, he remembered that the pond had a small channel which led to another pond a few hundred feet away.  He had been there once a long time back.  But the channel had water only when the level of water in the pond was high.  He felt sad as he remembered this for it was almost summer.  The pond level had been falling for quite some time.  He went to sleep with a heavy heart.

The next morning, at the break of dawn, he went to see if the channel had water he could swim through.  The water in the channel had been reduced to a trickle.    He wondered if he would be able to escape.  He was sad to leave his friend behind.   He entered the channel and with great difficulty he managed to push himself through it.     He was almost flat on his side.  The sharp stones in the channel tore into his soft body.  He went on for a long time.  He was almost at the point of despair.  He wondered if there was really water on the other side.  Finally, he felt that he was going faster.  The channel grew deeper and finally he was in the new pond.  Sahasrabuddhi felt relieved.  He was anxious about his friend and feared for his safety.

He was right.  That very next day, the fishermen came to the pond with a few of their friends.  They were carrying big nets with them.   The cast the net on the pond and let it sink to the bottom.  Dharmabuddhi was relaxing in his favorite haunt oblivious to the danger.  He was startled to see the net fall around him.  He looked for a way out but there was none.  He also tried his tricky swimming movements he was so proud of.  He was sure that he could slither out of the net’s reach.    But they were of no avail.  The net soon fell on him and he was entangled in its cords.

Soon, the fishermen began to lift the net.  Dharmabuddhi regretted not listening to his friend.  But, it was too late.  He was drawn up along with the net and met his sad end.

Children, this story with a sad ending tells us to be alert to any signs of danger.  When we hear of any threat we need to act quickly and save ourselves and others.  If we are complacent and slothful, we will pay a heavy price.