Spiritual Story: The Elephant And His Old Blind Mother

Baby Elephant and Its MotherLong ago, in the hills of the Himalayas near a lotus pool, the Buddha was once born as a baby elephant. He was a magnificent elephant, pure white with feet and face the color of coral. His trunk gleamed like a silver rope and his ivory tusks curled up in a long arc.

He followed his mother everywhere. She plucked the tenderest leaves and sweetest mangoes from the tall trees and gave them to him. “First you, then me,” she said. She bathed him in the cool lotus pool among the fragrant flowers.

Drawing the sparkling water up in her trunk, she sprayed him over the top of his head and back until he shone. Then filling his trunk with water, he took careful aim and squirted a perfect geyser right between his mother’s eyes. Without blinking, she squirted him back. And back and forth, they gleefully squirted and splashed each other. Splish! Splash!

Then they rested in the soft muck with their trunks curled together. In the deep shadows of afternoon, the mother elephant rested in the shade of a rose-apple tree and watched her son romp and frolic with the other baby elephants.

The little elephant grew and grew until he was the tallest and strongest young bull in the herd. And while he grew taller and stronger, his mother grew older and older. Her tusks were yellow and broken and in time she became blind. The young elephant plucked the tenderest leaves and sweetest mangoes from the tall trees and gave them to his dear old blind mother. “First you, then me,” he said.

He bathed her in the cool lotus pool among the fragrant flowers. Drawing the sparkling water up in his trunk, he sprayed her over the top of her head and back until she shone. Then they rested in the soft muck with their trunks curled together. In the deep shadows of afternoon, the young elephant guided his mother to the shade of a rose-apple tree.

Then he went roaming with the other elephants. One day a king was hunting and spied the beautiful white elephant. “What a splendid animal! I must have him to ride upon!” So the king captured the elephant and put him in the royal stable. He adorned him with silk and jewels and garlands of lotus flowers. He gave him sweet grass and juicy plums and filled his trough with pure water.

But the young elephant would not eat or drink. He wept and wept, growing thinner each day. “Noble elephant,” said the king, “I adorn you with silk and jewels. I give you the finest food and the purest water, yet you do not eat or drink. What will please you?” The young elephant said, “Silk and jewels, food and drink do not make me happy. My blind old mother is alone in the forest with no one to care for her. Though I may die, I will take no food or water until I give some to her first and she is healed.”

The king said, “Never have I seen such kindness, not even among humans. It is not right to keep this young elephant in chains.” Free, the young elephant raced through the hills looking for his mother. He found her by the lotus pool. There she lay in the mud, too weak to move. With tears in his eyes, he filled his trunk with water and sprayed the top of her head and back until she shone. “Is it raining?” she asked. “Or has my son returned to me?” “It is your very own son!” he cried. “The king has set me free!” As he washed her eyes, a miracle happened. Her sight returned. “May the king rejoice today as I rejoice at seeing my son again!” she said.

The young elephant then plucked the tenderest leaves and sweetest mangoes from a tree and gave them to her. “First you, then me.”

The author of this spiritual growth story is unknown and greatly appreciated!

If you liked this story, you'll love this! We've compiled a list of the top 10 spiritual stories that our readers love. You can read them here.

What Is the Spiritual Meaning of the The Elephant And His Old Blind Mother Story?

In the timeless tale set amidst the hills of the Himalayas, the story of the baby elephant and his mother resounds with the echoes of compassion, sacrifice, and the boundless power of love. It speaks to the depths of the human spirit, transcending the barriers of form and species to illuminate the interconnectedness that unites all beings in the fabric of existence.

The baby elephant, born with the radiance and purity that mirrored the lotus pool nearby, embodied innocence and purity. His journey unfolded in the tender care of his mother, a nurturing presence guiding him through the lush beauty of their shared world. Their playful interactions amidst the lotus pool symbolize the joy of existence, the pure and unadulterated delight found in the simplest of moments.

As the young elephant grew into strength and stature, his mother, once the guiding light in his life, aged and weakened. Yet, in a poignant reflection of the circle of life, the roles reversed. The son, now towering and robust, became the caretaker of his aging mother. In an exquisite dance of reciprocity, he tended to her needs with the same love and devotion she had showered upon him in his youth.

Here, the narrative takes a profound turn, revealing the true essence of selflessness and altruism. Captured by a king who sought to adorn himself with the splendor of this magnificent creature, the young elephant refused all luxuries, refusing to partake until he could care for his ailing mother. His heart overflowed with a love so profound that no chains or royal offerings could distract him from his sole mission—to alleviate his mother's suffering.

This act of unwavering devotion touched the heart of the king, who recognized the depth of compassion within this noble creature. Liberated from captivity, the young elephant raced across the hills in pursuit of his mother, finding her weakened, longing, and in need. With the tenderness that mirrored their shared past, he tended to her, renewing her sight and rejuvenating her spirit.

The moral, deeply embedded within this narrative, speaks of a love that transcends boundaries and sacrifices that awaken the dormant empathy within us. It beckons us to look beyond the superficial trappings of wealth and status, urging us to embrace the essence of kindness, empathy, and unconditional love.

It reminds us that in our journey through life, amidst the pursuits of grandeur and ambitions, the most profound treasures lie in the moments of selfless service and unwavering love for others. The young elephant's actions exemplify the transformative power of compassion and the profound impact it holds, not just for the recipient but for the giver as well.

May this tale echo through the corridors of our hearts, inspiring us to embody the spirit of selflessness and compassion, fostering a world where every being is cherished and cared for with the boundless love exemplified by the young elephant and his mother.

Personal Reflection Questions

Spiritual stories are an opportunity to reflect on your own life. Here are 10 questions you can use to go deeper with the teachings in this story:

  1. Reflecting on Interconnectedness: How does the symbiotic relationship between the young elephant and his mother in their moments of playful joy and tender care resonate with the interconnectedness we share with our loved ones and the natural world around us?

  2. Impermanence and Growth: Considering the story's depiction of the young elephant growing into the tallest and strongest in the herd while his mother aged, how can you relate this cycle of growth and aging to your own experiences, acknowledging the impermanence inherent in life?

  3. Devotion and Sacrifice: Explore the theme of selfless devotion portrayed by the young elephant, who chooses to forgo sustenance until his blind mother is healed. How does this resonate with acts of sacrifice and love in your own life, and what does it reveal about the nature of true happiness?

  4. Symbolism of Water and Sight: In the story, water holds a transformative power, both in the lotus pool and the young elephant's act of washing his mother's eyes. How might the symbolic use of water relate to spiritual purification and the restoration of insight in your personal journey?

  5. The Call of Freedom: Delve into the symbolism behind the young elephant's yearning for freedom and the king's recognition of his extraordinary kindness. How does this resonate with the quest for liberation and compassion in your own spiritual path?

  6. The Illusion of Material Pleasures: Consider the young elephant's rejection of silk, jewels, and royal offerings, emphasizing the futility of material possessions in bringing true happiness. How can you reflect on your own relationship with materialism and the pursuit of genuine joy?

  7. Acts of Kindness and Miracles: Reflect on the king's acknowledgment of the young elephant's unparalleled kindness and the subsequent miracle of the mother's restored sight. How does this inspire contemplation on the power of kindness in your life and its potential to bring about unexpected miracles?

  8. Freedom and Homecoming: Explore the symbolism of the young elephant's liberation and his immediate journey to find his mother. How might this resonate with the search for freedom and a sense of homecoming in your spiritual journey?

  9. The Reciprocal Dance of Giving: Contemplate the poignant gesture of the young elephant, offering the tenderest leaves and sweetest mangoes to his mother with the refrain “First you, then me.” How does this reflect on the cyclical nature of giving and receiving in your own acts of love and care?

  10. The Healing Power of Love: Delve into the profound healing that occurs through the love and care exchanged between the young elephant and his blind mother. How can you relate this to the transformative and rejuvenating power of love in your own relationships and spiritual practice?