The forest was a paradise where all the animals lived in harmony under the benevolent rule of the Elephant. The animals of the forest loved and adored the elephant. They looked upon the elephant as a father-figure. The elephant, for his part, saw all the inhabitants of the forest as his own children.
One day a monkey entered the forest. He had lived in another forest. He found a home in one of the tree branches. He was a cunning and a greedy creature.
The monkey was jealous of the elephant and the respect he commanded. He imagined himself as the ruler of the forest with all other animals paying homage to him.
The monkey went about the forest spreading rumours about the elephant. He said that the elephant was greedy and only cared about himself.
The rumours spread through the forest. They soon reached the Elephant’s ears. The elephant was pained to hear them. He had always considered himself to be a servant of the forest and its inhabitants.
He knew that his reputation was at stake. It was only a matter of time before more people started to believe him. He thought for a while and hit upon a wise plan.
A few days later, the elephant summoned all the inhabitants of the forest. He asked all the animals to assemble in a open field in the middle of the jungle.
On the day of the meeting, the animals gathered together at the appointed place. The shrewd monkey was also there.
The elephant began, ”Friends, I have been in this forest for many years. I have tried to do my best to you. I have been your friend and guide. But now, there are rumours about my integrity and my character. Some say that I am greedy and hungry for power. I have all along acted as a servant of the forest and its dwellers.” The other animals began to feel sorry for the elephant. They knew that everything that the elephant said was true.
The elephant continued, “So, Friends! Today I have decided to relinquish my authority over this forest to this monkey who desires my office.” All eyes now turned on the monkey who was surprised by the sudden attention.
The elephant looked at the monkey. “Friend”, he said, “I offer to step aside for you. But before that I want you to specify what area you wish to rule over. Our forest is huge and broad. I suggest that you run around the forest over each area over which you want to govern. Whatever area you cover during your run will be yours.” he said. The monkey was pleased. The other animals were also sad that their ruler for so many years was planning to step aside. Some were angry at the insolence of the monkey. But all agreed that the task was fair and were ready to give the monkey a chance.
The next day the animals assembled at the field at daybreak. The monkey was there. He planned to run all over the forest to stake his claim to rule. The monkey began by running over the nearby river bank. He then ran across the small hill which lay nearby and the marshes and the ravines and the thickets.
He was tired but would not rest. He wanted to stake his claim to as large a territory as possible. It was noon. The monkey kept running. He could hardly breathe. He did not pause even to eat or to turn back.
Dusk was turning into darkness and soon it was night. The other animals had been waiting the whole day for the monkey to return. But there was no sign of the monkey.
The next day, the sun rose. There was no sign of the monkey. Some time later, a pair of geese who were flying by told of a monkey who was lying motionless on the ground a few miles away.
The Elephant and the other animals quickly made their way to the location. They found the monkey on the ground. They lifted the monkey off the ground. They were happy to find that it was still alive. It had fainted out of exhaustion.
The elephant went to a nearby stream filled his trunk with water and sprayed it on the unconscious monkey. The monkey slowly revived. After he had drunk some water and had had some food, he realized where he was.
In his greed for more land, he had worked himself almost to the point of death. He realized his folly. He apologized to the elephant who was happy that the monkey had learnt his lesson. The kind elephant hoisted him on his back and carried him back to his home.
Calm and tranquility returned to the forest and the monkey lived in peace with the other animals for many many years.
Children, this story teaches us not be greedy for power. A leader is to serve the people. A person who is greedy can never be a good leader.