Day Four of the Great Trek
On the edge of the Sacred Forest, on Day Four of the Great Trek of young Raj and his beloved friend, Lakaji the Elephant Elder, these two friends, were now joined by the Chaiwalla, the Chaiwalla’s son, Maharaja Ranjit the Elder and his servant Govinder.
As the others stood in a semicircle and faced Lakaji the Elephant Elder, the noble elephant paused and remained silent while in the background the jungle insects hummed, the snakes slithered up and down trees, tigers lurked respectfully in the dark recesses of shadowed tall trees, monkeys leaped and laughed and black jaguars could be seen only because of the whites of their sharp emerald eyes.
Then Lakaji the Elephant Elder spoke to his friends:
“Friends, this is the fourth day of the Great Trek which Raj and I have taken.
We have agreed that on the seventh day, Raj, with the blessing of his father, Randhava the Elder, shall slay and kill my elephant clan in the forest of Gir. Such is the pain of humanity when it is confined to limited solutions. Yet, what I wish to say to you today, friends, is that there is a sacred secret about the species of elephant that you should now know. We call it ‘The Room in the Elephant’.
“Did you know, dear friends, how much room we elephants have in our hearts and in our souls? We have infinite room. Room for forgiveness, room for compassion, room for understanding, room for reason, room for goodness, room for generosity. Every time an elephant dies, that room grows bigger and expands, just as the Universe expands, just as Lord Vishnu expanded in the size and breath and depth of his imagination when he fought the evil Baali.
“The Room in the Elephant will expand again today, because I, Lakaji the Elephant Elder, have come here to the Sacred Forest to breathe my last breath. We elephants know when we are going to die, and when we know that it is time, we make the Great Trek to the Sacred Forest, and we go and lie down and rest to a special place, which is the place where elephants go to die. I will take you to this special place now, dear friends, and then we shall speak again for one last time.”
Lakaji the Elephant Elder then proceeded to walk and guide his friends in the direction of the great elephant graveyard deep inside the Sacred Forest, a deeply secret and sacred place, that is guarded by tigers and jaguars and ferocious monkeys and poisonous snakes, which will spare no life except for those of an elder elephant and his friends.
The Chaiwalla, the Chaiwalla’s son, Maharaja Ranjit the Elder and his servant Govinder, together with Raj, the son of Randhava the Elder, stood in awe and wonderment at the sight before them.
There were literally hundreds upon thousands of shining white ivory, gleaming brightly in the deep dark forest, lying on the blackened ground under tall trees, where elephants for centuries had voluntarily come to perish and die. Then, Lakaji the Elephant Elder spoke again, addressing Maharaja Ranjit the Elder:
“I have heard your prayers, Maharaja Ranjit, and I know your character from when you were a little boy like this young boy who is the Chaiwalla’s son.
“I could feel the deep love you had for the people of Nawanagar, and I saw how you raised their lives with a renaissance and rebirth that invigorated them, brought dignity and prosperity to their being. I know you have been sad because the good people of Nawanagar have lost hope. Yet the gods have heard your prayers and here is my parting gift to you, Maharajah Ranjit, and to the people of Nawanagar:
“All this ivory is now yours. You may go back to Nawanagar, and ask the strong young men to bring their empty bullock carts, and then fill them high with this ivory treasure. Maharaja Ranjit, I have instructed Raj, in these past days of the Great Trek, with the wisdom of the ages, and I am of the conviction that this young man Raj, son of Randhava the Elder, should be the rightful Prince of Nawanagar and that Prince Raj, under the guidance of your good self, Maharaja Ranjit, as well as his own father, Randhava the Elder, and fortified by the bounty of this ivory treasure, will indeed be able to restore all that the locust hath eaten from the lives of the people of Nawanagar and to furnish a table in the wilderness.”
After a few moments of contemplation, Lakaji the Elephant Elder spoke for one last time, addressing Maharaja Ranjit the Elder:
“I know, Maharaja Ranjit, that your dear soul has experienced a long and dry drought. Yet the seasons and the karma transform and change and dance new steps, like the dance of Lord Shiva. From this point onward, Maharaja Ranjit, thy parched soul shall no longer suffer a dry drought. Nay, thy soul shall be refreshed and renewed. Thy soul shall be as a watered garden.”
Click here for Chapter Fifteen, The Watered Garden.