The north-eastern region of India has a long stretch of forest. Lying at the foot of the Himalayas, it receives plenty of rain. So the trees and bushes grow lush and green. Once upon a time, in this forest lived abundant animals such as tigers, leopards, rhinoceros, deer, rabbits, wild buffalos and wild pigs. The tiger was the king and all the other animals lived in fear of him.
But the tiger was rather a good king. He did not kill except to satisfy his hunger. When his stomach was full, he used to walk lazily through the forest, humming a tune. He even smiled at the other animals as they went about their business. One day the tiger killed a wild buffalo. And he ate till he was ready to burst. When the meal was over, he went to a forest pool to drink some water. As chance would have it, a plump and frisky young pig had also gone to the same pool to drink water. The pig caught a glimpse of the tiger and it gave him the jitters. He held his breath and stood perfectly still, hoping that the tiger would not see him.
But the tiger had already seen him. The tiger licked his lips. He thought that it should not be difficult to catch the pig at all. But he must not frighten him. Otherwise the pig will not come to the pool again. With this in mind, the tiger slowly walked away, pretending he had not seen the pig at all.
When the last little bit of the tiger's tail had disappeared among the bushes, the pig began to breathe freely again. His courage also flowed back. And with his courage came a flash of pride. He cocked his head to one side and said aloud that the tiger went away because he was frightened of him. The tiger has grown old and weak. So a tiger who is afraid of the sight of a little pig must resign from his post. Rather it is the Pig who should be the king of the forest.
At the very thought of having so many servants, the pig strutted to the edge of the pool and called out to the tiger, treating him like a servant. Luckily the tiger’s tummy was full and he was in good mood. So he did not come charging after the pig. He only grunted and said over his shoulder that if he wished to fight then he can come back in two days for the fight of his life. The pig readily agreed. And feeling mighty pleased with himself, the pig bounded back to his friends in the forest.
They were all surprised to see him so happy. They started enquiring about the reason for his happiness. The pig twirled his tail. He said to his friends that they should treat him with more respect as he is the future king. His friends started laughing at him. At this the pig narrated them the entire story. All his friends were staring at him with eyes as big as saucers. They could not believe that he has challenged the tiger. One of them managed to ask between chattering teeth that whether he had really challenged the tiger. Others joined in and said that the tiger was not hungry and that is why he had let the pig go. Otherwise he would have gobbled him.
When all his friends said the same thing, the pig realized that they could be right. He began to shake with fright. He was repenting his decision. He decided not to go to the pool. But his friends did not agree. They said that if the tiger did not find him at the pool at the given date and time then he will declare war on pigs. He will hunt each pig down and kill them. So it is better that he faced the consequences. By now the young pig was scared out of his wits. He asked them for help. His friends asked him to go to grandfather pig.
The young pig lost no time. He went running to grandfather pig and told him the whole story. Grandfather pig was in the middle of his lunch. But he took time off to give the young pig a good scolding. The young pig fell at the feet of his grandfather and begged him for help. Grandpa softened a bit and took time to think.
He bowed his head and sat thinking for some time. At last he looked up and said that there is only one way by which the tiger may let him go free. The pig danced around his grandfather for sheer joy and said that he will do anything. Grandfather pig dropped his voice to a whisper and said that before he goes to the tiger he must make himself as dirty as possible.
The young pig jumped at the idea. Just before his date with the tiger he rolled in mud and slush, dried himself out and rolled again and yet again. When he finally reached the pool he didn’t look like a pig at all. He was one big blob of dirt.
The tiger was already there, waiting for his meal to appear. But when he saw the lump of dirt before him he was taken aback. He was shocked to see the pig so dirty. The young pig introduced himself and said that it is him whom the tiger was supposed to fight. The tiger looked at the pig again and wrinkled his nose in disgust. Gone were his dreams of a delicious meal of pig meat. All he wanted was to get rid of the filthy creature before him. He roared at him and asked him to disappear.
The young pig managed to get away, though his legs were shaking with fright. He ran to grandfather pig and thanked him with all his heart. Then all the pigs in the forest held a meeting and passed a resolution that in future they would remain as dirty as possible, so the tiger would not be tempted to eat them. And that is why, to this day, pigs like to wallow in dirt.
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