Rati Hegde
When Natural Enemies Became Friends


“When staff at the Bor wildlife sanctuary, near Nagpur, released a live goat in the enclosure of a full grown male tiger, they hoped the beast would make a quick kill. To their astonishment and horror, the tiger instead decided to make friends with its intended meal. For two days, the tiger did not kill the goat despite being hungry. Instead it played with it; at one point even playfully dumping it in an artificial waterhole. Finally, the goat was shifted out and the tiger was given beef to eat. Officials who watched the sequence of events in dismay are hunting for answers to explain the animal's behaviour. They are worried that having been raised in captivity, the big cat may have lost its hunting skills.” This news had appeared in a leading newspaper a couple of days back.

Now this may seem to be very bad news to the forest officials, but this is not the first time that natural enemies have become friends in India. But the reaction of our sages has been very different from those of the forest officials.

I would like to recall 3 instances from the past, which have happened in Karnataka, centuries ago. Two of these instances were observed by Adi Shankara and one by a later day Shankaracharya.

Centuries ago, Adi Shankaracharya was wandering in the forest region around Gokarna Kshetra, a coastal area in North Karnataka. He chanced upon a tigress giving milk to a baby fawn. He was stunned to see the tigress whose natural food was the deer, giving shelter and milk to the abandoned baby fawn. He realized that this place encouraged Sattvik tendencies in all beings and He decided to meditate there. He called this place ‘Ashoke’ – a place where there would be ‘no shoka’ – no sadness, and He installed a Mallikarjuna Shiva Linga there. Years later an ashram called Shree Raghottam Matha (now known as Shree Ramachandrapura Matha) would be started in this very place.

When Adi Shankara wanted to start the 4 Pradhana (main) Mathas in India to carry on His tradition and teachings, He went to Karnataka and meditated on the banks of the river Tunga. There He saw a Cobra, a poisonous snake sheltering a frog that was in labour. Here too He was struck by the strange event and realized that this place too was a unique place full of Sattvik vibrations. This place was Shringeri and it was here that He established His first Matha – the Shringeri Matha and installed Sharada Mata as the resident Devi. Sureshwaracharya was the first Mathadeesha – sovereign, of this Matha.

Centuries later, when Vidyaranya, formerly known as Madhavacharya, was the Peethadeesha of this very ShreeMatha, a young man named Harihara called upon Him and told Him how he saw two hares chasing a hound in the forest area about 400kms away from Bangalore, on the banks of the river Tungabadra. The great sage, with His vision and foresight, said that the forest was the fit place for a capital. It was here that Hampi, the capital of the Vijayanagar Empire was formed in the 14th Century AD. It is believed that the great sage prayed to Goddess Bhuvaneshwari to provide Harihara and his brother Bukka with enough wealth to build a town. His prayers were answered with a shower of gold at night. Harihara became the ruler and his brother Bukka succeeded him. Even today Hampi abounds in sculptural and architectural wonders.

If any reader knows of any more such places, do share …


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Rati Hegde
I am basically a hardcore Home-maker with 3 children. I also bring out a newsletter on spirituality - SETU, every

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