Author Topic: Rabbit Character in Khmer Folktales - The Great Hermit Saves the Tiger’s Life  (Read 84 times)

Offline Samana Johann

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Once a tiger was sleeping in front of a snake’s hole, The snake came out, bit and killed the tiger. Meanwhile a great hermit out on a journey happened to wander past that place. Because his heart was so kind, he revived the tiger back to life.

The tiger, whom the great hermit had cured, said, “I was well and fast asleep. Why do you awaken me? Because of that I need to eat you.”

The great hermit replied: “You had been sleeping in front of a snake’s hole, and the snake bit you and you died. I have restored your life. Why do you want to eat me?”

The tiger and the great hermit had a dispute with each other. Hence they asked the jackal for help. The tiger and the great hermit explained what the dispute was. The jackal thought: “If I judge that the tiger loses the case, I won’t be able to depend on his power in this forest anymore.” That the jackal judged the case like this was due to his bias caused by love or desire (chandāgati).

The great hermit did not accept this resolution. Then they found a cow judge and told him what happened. The cow judge reckoned that, “If I do not help the tiger, he will hate me and eat me.” So the cow helped the tiger to win. His judgment was biased by fear (bhayāgati).

Then the great hermit asked a monkey for help. The monkey thought: “In the past, a man had fallen into the well and my father helped him; however that crafty man ate my father.” The monkey’s judgment was clouded by hatred or enmity (dosāgati).

The fourth judge was a buzzard. He thought to himself, “Currently I often get my food from the remains of a tiger’s meal. If I decide against the tiger, he will be angry with me. How will I be able to get my food from him?” The buzzard’s judgment was biased by his greed or desire (lophāgati).

The great hermit disagreed again and he went to a tree spirit who thought, “People walking in the forest and taking shelter always break and cut off the leaves.” So the tree spirit judged in favor of the tiger. His judgment was biased by delusion or stupidity (Mohāgati).

But the great hermit did not accept this judgment. He asked Judge Rabbit for help and explained what happened again to the rabbit. The great hermit said, “This tiger who was sleeping in front of the snake’s hole was killed by the snake’s bite. I returned him to life by using my magic charm. However he is ungrateful. Now he wants to eat me anyway. Please, sir, consider this case and help me.”

The tiger explained: “While I was comfortably sleeping, the great hermit awakens me. Consequently I am tempted to eat him. He did not accept this. He asked the jackal, the cow, the monkey, the buzzard and the tree spirit for help; and all these judges decided for me. Please help me.”

Hearing the great hermit’s and the tiger’s explanations, Judge Rabbit considered them, relying on his intelligence. He gave the following order: “Let the great hermit and Brother Tiger go back to where this incident happened, and I will judge it again.” They also agreed and went back there.

When the great hermit and the tiger approached that place, the tiger went to sleep on the snake’s hole again. After a while the snake came out, bit the tiger who then died. Then Judge Rabbit advised the great hermit, “Please look at that tiger. Due to his ingratitude he has died of his own accord. From now on, don’t be so generous to a tiger.” This judgment of Judge Rabbit was based upon his independent, fair and honest way of thinking.



Explaining:

“The Great Hermit Saves the Tiger’s Life” (PRBK 2001: 3, 1).54 Here, rabbit judges without bias the case of the great hermit and the tiger. This folktale describes a great hermit who saves the life of a tiger bitten while sleeping in front of a snake’s hole, but the ungrateful tiger wants to eat him anyway. Therefore, they go off to find a judge who will settle their dispute. The first judge is a jackal. His bias is partially caused by love or desire (chandāgati). He says to himself, “If I judge the tiger and lose the case, I won’t be able to depend on his power in this forest.” Not accepting this judgment they go to the second judge, a cow. He is prejudiced by fear (bhayāgati). He reckons that, “If I do not help the tiger, he will hate me and eat me.” Being dissatisfied with that judgment, they go to the third judge, a monkey. His bias is caused by hatred or enmity (dosāgati). He thinks that, “In the past, a man had fallen into a well and my father helped him, however that crafty man ate my father.”
 Disagreeing with that judgment, they go to the fourth judge, a buzzard, who is prejudiced by greed or desire (lobhāgati). He thinks that, “Today I frequently get my food from the remains of the tiger’s meal. If I judge that the tiger should lose the case, he will be angry with me; and how can I get the food from him?” Being dissatisfied with that discernment, they go to the fifth judge, a tree spirit. He is prejudiced by delusion or stupidity (mohāgati). He decides that, “People walking to the forest and taking shelter always break and cut off the leaves so I will judge that the tiger wins the case.” The last judge is the rabbit who is independent and neutral (sugatigamanam). He orders the tiger to go back to where the original event had taken place and if the tiger remains unbitten by the snake, he wins. Rabbit was not intimidated by the tiger’s physical power. He judged wisely, excluding (love), hatred, fear, greed, and delusion. It is clear that these four concepts are taken from the Buddhist ideas of how to be a good ruler or king. That is to say the good king and ruler must conduct his duties according to them (Payutto 1996: 24). A comparison between Judge Rabbit and the other animals and supernatural judges—cow, wolf, buzzard, tree spirit, and monkey—indicates that only the rabbit is an impartial judge. He represents the wisest one.

For more details see: An Analysis of the Trickster Archetype as Represented by the Rabbit Character in Khmer Folktales  in the library.

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Offline Ron-the-Elder

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SJ, Thanks for the story.   :listen:  It is a different version than the one I had heard before.  Interestiing.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Samana Johann

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Let it be known Ta ("grandfather", older respectable people and preacher in monasteries) Ron, there are many versions arround, especially in english and newer. Atma ha the luck to find four books written in east germany in German (well tanslated, well documented) originated before Khmer Rouge, althought most aside of less transcription is just memory because given all copies which could be bought on the marked 12, 13 years ago, to Khmer Refuge families, schoolfriends.. in Austria.

The english, most newer, are like this transcription most from young monks and often from bad resources, such as this and that website.

When ever come across one serious seeming, always welcome to share here as well: Cambodian Folktales - Kambodschanische Volksmärchen

They are a wonderful source of moral and Dhamma teachings, but contain a lot of social impressions till history and their truth have not changed till today.. Some English, not the best source, short-cut and most more cultural, Nyom may find here on an [older page done](http://www.sangham.at/Webseite/Mainpage/Mainpage_english.htm). Selfmade inframe page, look under Cambodia-> Tales

There are printed books which are collections of " Cambodia Sunrise", a kind of buddist Magazin before the war, published by the buddhist University at this time. They may contain maybe best Versions. But at least, they are hundred of years old folktales verbal tansmitted. Even NGOs used the way of teaching people till today.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2017, 06:52:34 am by Samana Johann »
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