The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'The dog transformed into a tiger, gratified with the flesh of slain beasts, slept at his ease. One day as he lay on the yard of the hermitage, an infuriated elephant came there, looking like a risen cloud. Of huge stature, with rent cheeks, having signs of the lotus on his body, and with broad frontal globes, the animal had long tusks and a voice deep as that of the clouds. Beholding that infuriated elephant, proud of his strength, approaching towards him, the tiger agitated with fear, sought the protection of the Rishi. That best of sages thereupon transformed the tiger into an elephant. The real elephant, seeing an individual of his own species, huge as mass of clouds, became terrified. The Rishi's elephant then, freckled with the dust of lotus filaments, dived delightfully into lakes overgrown with lotuses and wandered by their banks indented with rabbit holes. A considerable time elapsed in this way. One day as the elephant was cheerfully striding along the vicinity of the hermitage,
there came before him unto that spot a maned lion born in a mountain cave and accustomed to slay elephants. Beholding the lion coming, the Rishi's elephant, from fear of life, began to tremble and sought the protection of the sage. The sage thereupon transformed that prince of elephants into a lion. As the wild lion was an animal of same species with himself, the Rishi's lion no longer feared him. On the other hand, the wild lion seeing a stronger beast of his own species before him, became terrified. The Rishi's lion began to dwell in that hermitage within the forest. Through fear of that animal, the other animals no longer ventured to approach the hermitage. Indeed, they all seemed to be inspired with fear about the safety of their lives. Some time after one day, a slayer of all animals, possessed of great strength inspiring all creatures with fright, having eight legs and eyes on the forehead, viz., a Sarabha, came to that spot. Indeed he came to that very hermitage for the object of slaying the Rishi's lion. Seeing this, the sage transformed his lion into a Sarabha of great strength. The wild Sarabha, beholding the Rishi's Sarabha before him to be fiercer and more powerful, quickly fled away, from that forest. Having been thus transformed into a Sarabha by the sage, the animal lived happily by the side of his transformer. All the animals then that dwelt in the vicinity became inspired with the fear of that Sarabha. Their fear and the desire of saving their lives led them all to fly away from that forest. Filled with delight, the Sarabha continued every day to slay animals for his food. Transformed into a carnivorous beast, he no longer affected fruit and roots upon which he had formerly lived. One day that ungrateful beast who had first been a dog but who was now transformed into a Sarabha, eagerly thirsting for blood, wished to slay the sage. The latter, by ascetic power, saw it all by his spiritual knowledge. Possessed of great wisdom, the sage, having ascertained the intentions of the beast, addressed him in these words.'
"The sage said, 'O dog, thou wert first transformed into a leopard. From a leopard thou wert then made a tiger. From a tiger thou wert next transformed into an elephant with the temporal juice trickling down thy cheeks. Thy next transformation was into a lion. From a mighty lion thou wert then transformed into a Sarabha. Filled with affection for thee, it was I that transformed thee into these diverse shapes. Thou didst not, and dost not, belong by birth, to any of those species. Since, however, O sinful wretch, thou desirest to stay me who have done thee no injury, thou shalt return to thy own species and be a dog again.' After this, that mean and foolish animal of wicked soul, transformed into a Sarabha once more assumed, in consequence of the Rishi's curse, his own proper form of a dog.'"
Next: Section CXVIII