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Story of The Giant Crab
The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C.B. Varma
|035 - The Giant Crab|
a giant crab lived in a Himalayan lake. He was so large that it caught and
killed an elephant to enjoy its flesh.
The crab thus created havoc among the elephants and made many to
flee the lake.
The giant crab lurking to catch the hind leg of the Bodhisatta
that time, the queen elephant conceived the Bodhisatta in her womb.
Anticipating the possible danger in the lake the king elephant sent her to
a safer place, far from the lake, for delivery. In course of time, she
delivered a baby, who grew up like a purple mountain. He was also wise and
brave. Soon, he chose a good
and nice female elephant as his companion. By and by, he came to know of
the havoc created by the giant crab, who was the cause of the separation
from his father. So, he planned to go to the lake and kill the crab.
one day, he marched to the lake with his mates. There, he approached his
father and sought his permission and blessing to kill the giant crab.
First, the elephant king did not grant him the permission but later
allowed him when requested, repeatedly.
Bodhisatta then called upon all his friends to launch an expedition
against the crab. His attack was not rash as he collected all relevant
information about his enemy, viz., the crab was to attack the last among
the retreating animals from the lake. He ordered all the elephants to
march to the lake and browse there. When retreating, he deliberately
stayed behind all other elephants. Thus, he was caught by the crab, which
held one of his hind legs as a smith holds the lump of iron between his
tongs. The Bodhisatta then pulled up his leg but could not budge an inch.
The crab, indeed, was very powerful. The elephant in his peril then
trumpeted in a high pitch. Sensing the danger all the elephants ran
helter-skelter. In the meanwhile the crab drew him closer and closer to
suck his blood. Seeing the danger he shouted at his mate not to run away.
The female elephant then answered that she was not to leave him in his
distress and said,
She then came near the
crab and spoke to him in a sweet and dulcet voice:
Pleased with the female’s flattery, the crab loosened his grip with the least suspicion of what the elephant could do. No sooner than the elephant found the grip of the crab loosened, he gave a thunderous cry of elation, which drew all the run away elephants back. Together, they pulled the crab on the shore and trampled him to mince-meat.
course of time, the crab-tarn was flooded with water and the two claws of
the crab floated to the Ganga. One of those claws was found and lifted by
ten brothers who made it a drum called Aanaka. The other claw was carried
away to the sea and was picked up by the titans, who made a drum out of it
and called it ‘Aalambara’. In one of the battles when the titans lost
to Sakka the drum came in possession of the latter. Since then Sakka used
the drum in his battle to strike awe in the hearts of his enemies. Thus,
the expression - ‘it thunders like the Aalambara cloud !’ – is in
See Kakkata Jataka Jataka Pali No. 267.
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