Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Item. Featured Story: Rama and the Squirrel

I really enjoyed reading the stories in Sacred Stories: Indian Moral Stories for Children by Morris Fenris.

One of my favorites is the story of Rama and the squirrels. Fenris includes that story ("How the Squirrel Got its Stripes"), and I thought I would write up a blog post about it. The story also figures in Buck's Ramayana,  Narayan's RamayanaPattanaik's Pashu, and Pattanaik's Book of Ram, where Pattanaik explains that the legend of the squirrel comes from the 16th-century Dandi Ramayana (Jagamohan Ramayana) of Balaram Das; you can find out more about the literature of Odisha at Wikipedia.

Here is a quick summary of the story: When Rama and his army of monkeys and bears were building a stone bridge to Lanka, there was a squirrel who wanted to help, and so he brought tiny pebbles and grains of sand to add to the bridge. The monkeys and bears made fun of the squirrel, but Rama praised the squirrel and explained that the pebbles and sand was actually useful in filling the gaps between the bigger rocks. Rama then stroked the squirrel's back, and lines appeared where Rama had touched him. You can see those lines on the squirrels of today:

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