- Religion and Philosophy»
GAJENDRA VS HUHU & ECOLOGY
Elephant & Crocodile Conservation
Many Hindus know the story about how Gajendra, King of the Elephants, and HuHu, the crocodile, were freed by Lord Vishnu. Imagine a beautiful lake and forests by the Ocean of Milk. Imagine a beautiful garden called Rtumat owned by Lord Varuna, god of oceans and seas. The elephants had come to the lake to bathe. Gajendra, King of the Elephants, stepped into the lake. HuHu, the crocodile, was angry at everyone who crossed his path. He had been a gandharva who was cursed by a sage when he accidentally fell into a lake with an aspsara (celestial maiden). The water fell on a sage's face who was meditating. The angry sage cursed him to live as a crocodile until Lord Vishnu came to liberate him. Gajendra in his previous life was King Indrahyuma who was meditating at the time Sage Agastya and his disciples came to his ashram. The king's son had been crowned king, so Indrahyuma retired from political life and started an ashram. Because the king was so deeply involved in meditation, he did not notice the sage and his disciples. The angry sage did not understand that the king was meditating. The sage cursed him to live as an elephant in his next life. The curse would be lifted when Lord Vishnu came to liberate him.
The crocodile made the elephant's life miserable by attacking his leg when he stepped into the lake. A big battle ensued. The elephant prayed to Lord Vishnu who came to liberate them both. Imagine seeing Vishnu traveling in the skies on his transport, Garuda, the sacred eagle. The eagle is mentioned in the Old Testament. In the Native American tradition the eagle is revered and considered sacred. As a child and adult I have been fortunate to see bald eagles right here in Minnesota, and I must say it is a spiritual experience seeing them. The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States and is found in many countries worldwide. Because the gigantic Harpie eagle is native to South America, many Caribbean Hindus are very familiar with this great bird.
Crocodiles and elephants are very powerful creatures. Unfortunately these animals are becoming endangered all over the world. Since 1986 the population of elephants has declined 50% over all. Realize they were first domesticated by the Indus Valley Civilization in the third century B.C. Their habitat is being decimated by human beings. Elephants do not fare well in zoos or circuses. Many of them die or are abused in these captive environments. There is an illegal ivory trade world wide where they are killed by poachers who sell the ivory for thousands of dollars in many African and Asian countries.
They are very intelligent creatures and are self aware. When you put an elephant in front of a mirror, it will not act as though the being in the mirror is another elephant. This shows elephants are self aware. Animals who are self aware have higher intelligence. They have large brains which equal the intelligence of the apes. They make tools like humans and apes do. They experience emotions like humans beings. They can feel the vibrations from earthquakes and tsunamis and often seek refuge right before the quakes and storms occur. They can distinguish low amplitude sounds and use infra sound to communicate with other elephants.
Humans often live too close to elephant habitat. Elephants consume vegetable matter and water. Their trunks are very powerful. Four hundred people die every year in India from elephant attacks. They destroy crops when humans destroy their forest habitat. Unfortunately humans have deforested trees at an alarming rate. Reserves and national parks are where elephants thrive. Hindus worship and revere Ganesha, the elephant, as the remover of all obstacles. It is important to increase their numbers in the ecology of the planet. When an animal become extinct, it greatly effects the ecosystem of the whole planet. A number of organizations are working on conserving their numbers. An organization which promotes support, conservation and education on international elephants is www.internationalelephantfoundation.org.
Crocks are found all over the world. The Americas even have crocodiles in Florida, Central America and the Caribbean Sea surrounding northern South America. Unfortunately their numbers have been decimated in India itself and worldwide. In India 16 rehabilitation centers and 11 sanctuaries have been created to bolster their numbers. In 1980 The Crocodile Breeding and Management Training Institute was created in Hyderbad, India.
These creatures can hear under the water and are very socialable with other crocks. They use different vocalizations to communicate just like elephants. They eat snakes, buffaloes, cattle and anything else they can hunt to survive. One organization which helps to enhance crocodile habitats is www.conservation.org.
Both of these animals are important to the ecology of the planet and need to be preserved worldwide. Ecology is a very important value in Hinduism. It is very interesting that sacred texts would tell a story with both of them together. They have been very important to the Hindus over the centuries. By preserving their numbers, we are honoring and worshiping Mother Earth.
JAI SHRI GAJENDRA! JAI SHRI HUHU! JAI SHIR CONSERVATION!