Learning from the Elephant


The elephant is one of the most fascinating animals in our life. It epitomises power and vitality.  It is tall and strong and one of the best friends of man.  It has multiple facets of its personality.  It disproves the myth that being a vegetarian, you cannot be strong and healthy.  It is useful in transportation in the forests and also helps human movement in difficult terrains.

Each part of the elephant teaches us something.  Its tall and strong personality emphasises the need to be like that in real life to face all of life challenges.  Its healthy body proves that vegetarianism is not a deterrent to good health.  Its tusks tells us to be ready in self defence in case of any enemy attack.  Its height teaches us how useful it is to deal with everyone around you.  Its calmness teaches you not to panic unless attacked.  Its wagging tail teaches you to be grateful in life to everyone.

In the temples, the elephant is used as the guardian of the Lord and also blesses everyone with its long trunk.  It is also used to take the God in processions around the town during festivals and fairs.  In the forest, the elephant by it sheer size can even scare a tiger.  So, in tiger resorts, elephants are used to spot the tiger and go near them to admire them.

In the villages, the elephant is also used in the agricultural fields to transport produce and goods.  It can also be useful to guard the villagers from wild animals and attack by dacoits and intruders.  It can help in pulling carts and also defending in any type of attacks.  History tells us that elephants were used in wars against enemies.  Their loyalty is unquestioned.  

What are the qualities one can learn from the elephant ?  You can learn to be loyal.  Loyalty of an elephant to her master is for their lifetime.  Their calmness in normal circumstances can teach us to be patient and unrfuffled in life.  They turn violent only when attacked and that too in self defence.  It may be worthwhile to know they can run at 40 km per hour despite being bulky and even swim non stop. The elephant is caring and one can learn to bestow motherly love from them. 

We have an opportunity to learn from all the animals and birds around us.  But we neither have the time to admire them nor the patience to learn from them.  I was in an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka recently and this gave me an opportunity to learn from the elephant.  One of man’s best friend, an elephant can teach a lot to us, which other human beings may not be able to.   It is time to sit back and learn from them.

Long live the Elephant.

S Ramesh Shankar

Flying birds


I have always been fascinated at the way birds fly high in the sky. I used to envy them and think how lucky they are.  One day I was wondering what the birds would be thinking of us as human beings on earth.  While I envied the birds for flying fearlessly, they may be envying us for enjoying ourselves walking around on the ground.  We believe the birds have all the freedom in the world and they do not need to stay at a permanent place.

On the other hand, the birds may wonder how lucky human beings are that have a permanent place to stay.  Birds have to keep flying endlessly till they are tired and have to find a place every day to rest at night.  They have to earn their food by flying around trees or other places and may be lucky some day and not on other days. We are so lucky we have a home to stay and get food served on our plates every day.

This phenomenon teaches us an important lesson in life.  We tend to compare ourselves with others and feel jealous.  Further, we think others do not suffer as much as we do.  We feel we are always face the most difficult situations while other rejoice.  We never realise that others may be in similar situations like us or may be even worse than us.  It is like me envying the birds in the sky till I wondered one day what the birds would think of me.

Life is a journey and has its ups and downs.  All of us have days of joy and moments of sorrow.  It may be worthwhile to admire others and learn from their goodness.  It may not be worth the while to envy others and die out of comparison.  If we need to compare anyone, it could be ourselves.  We can always be grateful to God for all the joyous moments he gave us when we face some miseries.

It is the attitude of self reflections and learning, which may make us better human beings.  Each living being is created by God and have their own pluses and minuses.  It is up to us to look at the positive of others and learn from them.  Jealousy can only make us move backward in life.  It is worthwhile to fly high in the sky like the birds and dream big.  It may be useful to leave the bad moments of one’s life behind like the birds leave their nest behind when they migrate.

It is up to us to be free and enjoy life like the flying birds.  If we learn from them, we benefit.  If we compare ourselves with them and feel bad, we lose.  Let us learn to learn not only from other human beings around us but from birds and animals, which have enough to teach us.

Today can be a new beginning.

S Ramesh Shankar