Much Ado About Nothing
Varanasi was ruled by wise king Brahmadatta. In the forest along its western region lived many, many animals. In one section bael and palm trees grew side by side to form a thick grove. A family of rabbits found a sheltered home there.
One day an elderly rabbit while basking in the sun under a large bael tree pondered thus, “I wonder what would happen to me if this earth was destroyed?” Just then a ripe bael fruit fell from the tree on to his head. The frightened rabbit jumped high and began to run fast. He was too scared to even look back, for he was sure that the earth was indeed breaking up. He shouted to his friends and family that were nibbling the grass in the meadow, “Hurry! Hurry! Follow me! The earth is breaking up and we are all going to die!” They lost no time in joining him. The prancing deer joined them too when they heard their screams. The wild boar abandoned the digging of the sweet roots as they too did not want to be left behind. Soon the bison, the tigers and even the elephants joined in the panic run. No one wanted to die! The forest ground shook, the leaves trembled and the trees swayed as the animals and birds fled, covering the earth, the trees and the sky.
The King of the forest, the lion, hearing the sound of the stampede, placed himself boldly in their path. The animals came to a grinding halt. “Where do you think you are all fleeing? What is going on?" he asked. The elephants trumpeted in unison. “Sir. The earth is breaking up here. We will all die unless we reach the seashore in time.” The puzzled lion looked around in disbelief. He asked each group of animals the question and found that they had all reacted to the flight of others. He turned towards the old rabbit and said, “All this started with you it seems. What is your story?” The old rabbit stammered, “Your royal highness, It is true. We are all going to die for the earth is breaking apart. While resting under a bael tree in my grove a part of the earth fell on my head.”
The lion remarked, “In that case let me see that place. Come follow me,” he roared to the group. Placing the shivering old rabbit on his back, the lion marched in all dignity, followed by the distraught animals.
At the grove the lion paced back and forth, swishing his tail and shaking his mane. He found nothing wrong with earth. Suddenly he slapped his paw on a large bael fruit, exactly where the rabbit rested. He knew what had happened. Turning to the group he displayed the fruit and said, “Look here at this fruit. This is what fell on him, not the earth. Look around. There is nothing wrong with the earth. Go to your forest home in peace.”
Om Muni Muni MAHAmuniye Svaha