The Little Tiger’s Roar

Based on a fable told
by the 19th Century Hindu saint, Sri Ramakrishna

One day a hungry, mother tiger came down from the snowy mountain to a green valley to search for food. She hid behind a large boulder, a tiger cub at her side, and waited for a family of goats to come near.

The unsuspected goats with their bearded heads were nibbling grass as they came close to the boulder. Suddenly the mother tiger let out a roar and chased after them. The terrified goats cried out, “baaah,baaah, baaah” , as they ran away.

The mother tiger pursued the goats only a short distance before she stumbled and fell to the ground. Weakened by hunger, she had used her last strength and now was dead.

The little tiger called out when his mother did not return to the boulder. The goats heard his helpless crying  and had compassion. They approached the little tiger and one of the mother goats fed her milk to the little tiger. And so the little tiger came to live among the goats of the green valley. And as you might expect the goats taught the little tiger their own ways. They taught  him to nibble grass like a goat, and bleat like a goat instead of roar like a tiger, and eat juicy red meat.

One day another tiger came down from the snowy mountain to the green valley. This was a father tiger and he did not hide behind the boulder. He let out a great roar and the goats ran away; all ran away except the little tiger. He had some bit of tiger courage in his heart and he stood tall before the ferocious tiger.

“What is this”, said the big tiger, “a tiger living among goats?”

“Baah, baah, baah”, said the little tiger to the big tiger.

“What is this”, said the big, father tiger, “a tiger that speaks like a goat? This cannot be. I will show you that you are not a goat.” The father tiger picked up the tiger cub by the scruff of the neck and carried him to a pool of water.

“Now look into the water”, said the father tiger, “do you not see two faces, both with black and yellow stripes, long whiskers and sharp, pointed teeth?”

The little tiger looked into the water. He looked at the big tiger, but again he said, “baah, baah, baah”.

The big tiger was not discouraged by the little tiger’s response. “I will yet teach you to speak like a tiger”. Again he picked up the little tiger by the scruff of the neck and now he carried him up the snow mountain to a dark cave where he had stored juicy, red meat that he liked best to eat. He offered a bit of the red meat to the little tiger, but the little tiger was used to eating grass like the goats. He did not want to taste the meat.

“No, no, no”, said the great, father tiger patiently, “you must taste it”.   Now the father tiger put a piece of the juicy, red meat into the little tiger’s mouth.

The little tiger tasted the meat and he liked it. He ate one, two, three, four, five pieces of meat! Then for the first time, the little tiger felt a new feeling come into his belly. This feeling rose up through his chest, and suddenly there came from him a great, loud, tiger roar!

So the story tells us, the young tiger cub discovered his true voice. From that day he lived happily on the snowy mountain and never went back down to the green valley.

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