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The Well Trained Elephant – Story from Jataka Tales

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About this story from the life of Bodhisatta

ONCE upon a time, the Bodhisatta was born an elephant. He was white all over and graced with all beauty. And because of his beauty the King made him his state elephant.
One festal day the King adorned the city like a city of the devas and, mounted on the elephant in all its trappings, made a solemn procession round the city attended by a great retinue. And all along the route the people were moved by the sight of that peerless elephant to exclaim, “Oh, what a stately gait! what proportions! what beauty! what grace! such a white elephant is worthy of an universal monarch.”
All this praise of his elephant awoke the King’s jealousy and he resolved to have it cast over a precipice and killed. So he summoned the mahout and asked whether he called that a trained elephant.
“Indeed he is well trained, Sire,” said the mahout.
“No, he is very badly trained.”
“Sire, he is well trained.”
“If he is so well trained, can you get him to climb to the summit of Mount Vepulla?”
“Yes, Sire.”
“Away with you, then,” said the King. And he got down from the elephant, making the mahout mount instead, and went himself to the foot of the mountain, whilst the mahout rode on the elephant’s back up to the top of Mount Vepulla. The King with his courtiers also climbed the mountain, and had the elephant halted at the brink of a precipice.
“Now,” said he to the man, “if he is so well trained as you say, make him stand on three legs.”
And the mahout on the elephant’s back just touched the animal with his goad by way of sign and called to him, “Hi! my beauty, stand on three legs.”
“Now make him stand on his two fore-legs,” said the King. And the Great Being raised his hind-legs and stood on his fore-legs alone.
“Now on the hind-legs,” said the King, and the obedient elephant raised his fore-legs till he stood on his hind-legs alone.
“Now on one leg,” said the King, and the elephant stood on one leg.
Seeing that the elephant did not fall over the precipice, the King cried, “Now if you can, make him stand in the air.”
What Happens Next?
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