[Türkçe çeviri için yorum bölümüne bkz.]
Once upon a time an elephant came upon a giant tree in the forest by the river bank. He rested under its shade for a rest. Soon a monkey came to rest there also. The elephant said, “This is my tree. I found it first.” The monkey replied, “Do you see any fruit on this tree?” “No” said the elephant. The monkey said triumphantly, “Ah! I was here before you. I ate up the fruits on this tree before you got here.” The elephant then bowed to the monkey, “OK, you’re my big brother, since you came here first.” “Wait a minute” said the rabbit that hopped by, “When I saw this tree, it was just a sapling with only a few branches and certainly not any fruit. So I was here before both of you.”
Then the elephant and monkey bowed to the rabbit: “OK, you’re our big brother, since you were here first.” Just then, they heard “Ha! Ha! Ha!” from a partridge on the treetop: “This tree wouldn’t have sprouted if I didn’t spit out the seed from a fruit I had eaten. So I was here before all of you.” Then the elephant, monkey, and rabbit, all bowed to the partridge, “OK, you’re truly our big brother, since you planted this very tree.”
Then they decided to share the tree together in peaceful harmony— enjoying the beauty of the tree’s fragrance, the nourishment of the tree’s fruits, and the bounty of the tree’s shade. Other animals in the forest often see them together with the partridge on top of the rabbit who is held up by the monkey who rides on top of the elephant.
Henceforth, they were called “the four harmonious brothers”, and by their example, peace reigned throughout the jungle.
Source: Four Harmonious Brothers
Originally told by the Buddha (circa 500 B.C.) Found in canonical text Foundation of Discipline (‘Dul-ba gzhi, Skt. Vinayavastu)