Long ago in the dense jungle near Kashi (Varanasi) lived
a grouse, a hare, a monkey and an elephant. They lived together
in peace and harmony. Wishing to know which among them was
the eldest so that they might accord each other appropriate
respect, the grouse asked each of them to tell how they
first remembered seeing a particular tree. The elephant
and the monkey recalled seeing it when it was the same size
as themselves, the rabbit had drunk dew drops off it when
it had but two leaves, while the bird said that he had eaten
some seeds and that the tree had sprouted from his droppings.
Discovering their proper order of seniority in this way
they went about with the monkey riding on the elephant's
back, the hare on its shoulders and the grouse perched on
top of the hare.
They decided to enter the path of virtue by observing the
five basic moral deeds, avoiding: killing, taking what is
not given, sexual misconduct, lying and taking intoxicants.
Having made these the basis of their own conduct, they set
out to teach them to the other animals in the forest. The
resulting harmony brought great peace and prosperity to
One day, the king and queen and their ministers asked a
clairvoyant hermit to tell them the cause of their good
fortune. He explained that it was because of the animals'
good conduct. When they expressed a wish to see the animals,
the hermit told them it was unnecessary for they could achieve
the same by following the same precepts. This they did and
the kingdom enjoyed great wealth and prosperity. Subsequently
they were reborn as gods.
Excerpt from Tibet.org