- Dear John, Gunnar, Piya, Rett and friends,
Gunnar is right that elephants follow a matriarchial family
structure. The head of a family is usually the oldest female. This
structure can be traced back to the mammoths of the recent ice age
some 20,000 years ago. Elephants are highly sociable animals, they
stay by the side of the dying and even mourn for the dead.
However, the 'herd' in this sutta may not refer to a family, but a
group, clan or population, all at a higher hierarchy than a family.
So, Piya is right that it's probably not a mistake. Adult males
either travel alone or in small groups, but usually within
the "activity radius" of a clan or population.
As for the "hot water" episode, well, I have to say that we are no
fundamentalists, and may have to understand it in the most sensible
--- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, rett wrote:
It's kind of a moot point, since the story also says that the
elephant prepared hot water, which puts the story pretty firmly into
the category of edifying fiction.