In a forest near Varanasi, there once live some quails. The shady grove in which they nested was also the favorite grazing ground of a herd of elephants. The leader of the herd was a wise and just elephant, the Bodhisattva. One day, one of the quails laid some eggs. “I hope my eggs will be safe till they are hatched,” she said to the father quail.
“What shall I do?” cried the mother. “I can only fall at their feet and beg for protection.”
As the leader came close to her nest, the mother quail cried out, “Oh mighty elephant, my little ones are in danger. If your herd enters the grove, they will be trampled to death.”
“Do not fear little one,” said the elephant leader, “Your fledglings will not be harmed.”
The kind elephant stood over the nest as the herd grazed. When the herd was leaving, the leader cautioned, “There is a rogue elephant who is wild and dangerous. He might soon be coming this way.”
“What shall I do, I am so small and weak,” said the helpless quail.
“All you can do is appeal to him for mercy,” advised the good elephant and departed.
Before long the rogue elephant arrived. The mother wasted no time and ran to the rogue elephant, begging, “Oh powerful one! I beg of you, spare my young ones!”
“How dare you come in my way?” the rogue elephant replied and in no time destroyed the nest and killed the father.
“There! That is the end of your silly brood,” the rogue elephant sneered.
The mother quail grieved over her family for a long time. She vowed to teach the rogue elephant a lesson. She thought long and hard and finally came up with a plan.
She went to her friend crow and narrated her sad tale. The crow was very sympathetic. “The rogue must not go unpunished,” the crow proclaimed and agreed to the mother quail’s plan.
The quail then went to her friend, the ant and sought her help.
“I heard about your babies,” the ant said. “I am deeply grieved. What can I do?”
The quail told the ant her plan and the ant readily agreed.
The quail then went to the frog, her long-time friend, and narrated what happened. “I am trying to get my friends, the crow, the ant and you to help me punish the spiteful elephant who killed my babies.”
“You can count on me” said the frog and followed the quail.
The three friends then implemented the quail’s plan. First, the crow darted at the elephant and plucked out the elephant’s eyes. Then the ant quickly went and laid her eggs in the eye sockets. As the eggs hatched and the baby ants began biting, the elephant could not bear the pain any more and desperately searched for water to wash his eyes. As the elephant dashed around in pain, the frog croaked close to a steep precipice. The blind elephant followed the sound of the frog’s croaking, thinking that water would be nearby.
Soon the elephant hurtled down to his death.
The three friends came together near the pond. “Thank you all for helping me to carry out my plan,” the mother quail said. “Let this be a lesson to all that even the small and weak can join together to correct an injustice.”