"The Elephant's Journey" - a great summer read
- Sri Chinmoy talks about a book he found in Sri Lanka, a book by President Premadasa. "What I found was a small children's book written by the President, with a painting of an elephant on the cover. It was entitled "Pratap the Elephant". "I was so deeply moved by my first acquaintance with President Premadasa's literary world. His own boundless heart of compassion compels him to bring to the fore the compassion-aspect of all others, including members of the animal kingdom.
"Pratap the Elephant is lord of the jungle and fully able to meet with all his needs without any help from others. But the President lovingly reveals to us how inner power and outer strength can go together. Pratap is full of kindness and affection for all the animals. Even the pigs and jackals, whose self-serving arrogance destroys Pratap's first water-hole, receive the wise elephant's limitless compassion. By not allowing the bad animals to come near the new water-hole, Pratap's compassion, in the form of strictness, is helping to transform them." (unofficial)
I just finished reading a book, also with an elephant on the cover "The Elephant's Journey" by Jose Saramago, winner of the 1998 Nobel prize for Literature. It is delightful! Set in renaissance Europe, 1550s, it recounts the delivery of an elephant, a wedding gift by the King and Queen of Portugal to the Archduke and Archduchess of Austria. The elephant Solomon and his mahout Subhro, with a retinue of soldiers, porters and nobility, set off on a sometimes whimsical, sometimes perilous, often amusing journey across Europe to Austria. The narration of the events, context and thinking of the times are mostly riveting . It takes a few pages to get used to the style of the translation, no quotation marks, long sentences, but it is well worth persevering. "Every elephant contains two elephants, one who learns what he's taught and another who insists on ignoring it all." A charming summer read just a couple of hundred pages long.