Ancient Burmese Fable From Mount Popa
Translated from Burmese by Dr. M. Gyi, Chief Instructor, American Bando Association
Free Voice Issue 1 Volume 2 Spring 1997 pages 8-11
NOTE: I typed this up from Dan Inosanto's Free Voice magazine. No scanner :-(
In Maha Myaing, the great, dense jungle of Burma, there once lived a tiger whose lust for power consumed his whole existence. One day he decided to proclaim himself King of Maha Myaing.
He went to the top of the highest mountain and roared, demanding that all living things submit to his authority. Many frightened animals yielded without resistance and paid tribute to him, but not the eagle, the python, the elephant, the boar, the crocodile, the King cobra, the bull, the black panther or the scorpion.
He declared war on them and challenged that he would battle these unyielding resisters into submission.
The Golden Eagle
Without warning, the eagle quickly attacked the pompous tiger by swooping down from the sky. With his sharp beak,, and steel-like claws, the eagle tore off the tiger’s ear. In pain, the tiger leaped and roared, “Why don’t you come down here and fight like me?” “Why don’t you come up here and fight like me?” the eagle replied.
The tiger leaped and jumped and chased the golden eagle floating regally above him. In frustration, the exhausted tiger declared, “Let’s call our battle a draw. From this day on, I proclaim you king of the sky.” “So be it,” said the golden eagle, and flew away to his nest on a towering peak.
The Giant Python
The tiger entered the teak woods by the mountain where the giant python dwells and declared the woods his territory. The python sprang from nowhere and coiled his massive body around the arrogant tiger, squeezing the yielding body and limbs. The tiger, in pain and panic, frantically attempted to break the lock, but could not escape the hold. Realizing the crushing power of the python, he declared, “Stop, stop squeezing me. Let’s call our battle a draw. From this day on, I proclaim you King of the Teak Woods.” “So be it,” said the python, uncoiling his great body and moving silently into the teak forest.
The White Elephant
The tiger entered the tall grassy fields by the teak woods where the great white elephant was grazing, and declared it his territory. The great elephant raised his long trunk and objected. The tiger roared, “I’ll destroy you for not submitting to my authority,” and attacked. With little effort, using his tusks and trunk, the elephant scooped up the tiger above his head and was ready to slam the struggling beast against a boulder.
The frightened tiger, in a grip of death, roared, “Put me down. Let’s call this battle a draw. From this day on, I proclaim you King of the Grass Land.” “So be it,” said the white elephant, as he gently dropped the tiger and majestically walked away into the grassy mall.
The Grizzly Boar
By the side of the grassland was a large swamp. The tiger entered the swamp land and declared it his territory. A huge grizzly boar, rolling deep in mud, protested.“How dare you protest against me,” roared the tiger, and jumped into the mushy soil to teach the grizzly beast a thing or two. The tiger got stuck in the mud. As he pulled his front paws out, his back legs sunk. Soon all his paws were trapped in the thick mud pit. The grizzly boar attacked the helpless intruder, goring his sides with razor-sharp tusks.
The tiger, realizing his predicament, roared “Stop, stop the attack. Let’s call it a draw. From this day on, I declare you King of the Swamp Land.” “So be it,” said the grizzly boar. He helped the frustrated tiger out and then rolled himself in the mud pit.
The tiger approached the river by the swamp land, drank from it, and washed his muddy coat, proclaiming the river to be his territory. The dozing crocodile protested by whipping his massive tail and striking the haughty beast, then slipped into the water. “Why don’t you come ashore and fight like me?” the tiger roared in anger. The crocodile replied, “Why don’t you come in here and fight like me?” The tiger jumped into the river and attacked the crocodile. He could hardly keep his head afloat.
The crocodile circled the swimmer and snapping his large jaws, pulled the tiger under the water to drown him. Frantically, the tiger struggled to get his head above water, and roared, “Stop, stop pulling me down. Let’s call our battle a draw. From this day on, I proclaim you King of the River.” “So be it,” said the crocodile, as he helped the frantic tiger ashore and slipped into deep water. The tiger was relieved that the crocodile hadn’t made a feast of him.
The King Cobra
The tiger entered the bamboo grove and declared it his territory. The king cobra appeared and protested. “How dare you resist my authority,” roared the tiger and attacked the serpent, but the cobra quickly slithered into a bamboo thicket. “Why don’t you come out here and fight like me?” roared the tiger. The cobra replied, “Why don’t you come in here and fight like me?” As the tiger jumped into the thicket, the cobra struck, sinking its venomous fangs into his neck. In great pain, the tiger retreated. “Let’s call our battle a draw. From this day on, I proclaim you King of the Bamboo Grove.” “So be it,” said the king cobra and disappeared into the grove. In agony and exhaustion, the tiger tried to find a mountain cave where he could rest and nurse his wounds from the battles with the eagle, the python, the elephant, the boar, the crocodile and the king cobra. He found a rocky cave and slumped his painful body down, saying, “I will battle the rest of you unyielding resisters tomorrow. I’m too tired to fight today. I will teach the great bull, the black panther and the scorpion the might of my ferocity.” He roared, “I declare this cave to by my castle, from which I will rule my kingdom.” And the tiger fell asleep.
From behind the rocks in the cave appeared a scorpion. He quietly crawled towards the sleeping tiger and sank his poisonous tail deep into its paw. The tiger leaped from pain and searched for the attacker. The scorpion had disappeared. His search was fruitless. In total frustration, he roared, “Wherever you are, let’s call our battle a draw. From this day on, I declare you the King of Rocks in my castle. Don’t attack me again when I’m asleep.” “So be it,” said the scorpion from behind a boulder.
The Dying Tiger
The tiger fell asleep in his castle. The night arrived and gently spread a blanket of darkness over the jungle. All living things rested. The next morning, as the sun slowly unfolded the darkness, many small animals came to the cave to pay tribute to the King of Beasts in his new castle. But they found their king dying from his wounds. The poison from the king cobra and the scorpion had paralyzed him. The loss of blood from wounds received from the boar and the crocodile had weakened him. His ribs had been broken by the giant python and elephant. The tiger lay motionless. He could not move his body; only his eyes fluttered. The vultures were perching on the rocks for a grand feast.
Hannumah, the King Monkey
The king monkey, seeing the pitiful sight, showed his compassion. He called the wise old owl to help him restore the life of this dying beast. The monkey and the owl patiently nursed the tiger back to health and, as he regained his strength, the owl spoke, “Every animal in this great jungle is unique, and each one has a unique one to play. We are all interdependent on each other for survival. This is the law of nature.”
The owl continued, “If you declare war on nature and other living beings, you have declared war on yourself.” The tiger complied with the law and once again the great jungle of Maha Myaing was peaceful.
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