20. Hyenas

Krishna and Balarama continued their journey towards the north west. They met several herds of zebras. There was the occasional roars of lions. They also saw a bird of enormous height and weight called the ostrich. This is a flightless bird. They bury their heads in sand if they perceive any threat.

They proceeded through thick jungles of Zaire river (River Congo) valley. They saw another peculiar animal. It was of enormous height of about twenty feet. Its slender neck was long and flexible. It reached the tall tree tops and feasted on the delicate shoots of the trees. All over its body there were yellow to black patches. Its forelegs were very long compared to their hind legs. When it came to water holes and drank water, it had to spread its long fore legs to lower itself enough to reach the water. This is the giraffe.

One giraffe walked along and made friends with Karimukha. “Hello, elephant! I am a giraffe. You seem to be a stranger to this region – you are different from the elephants in these parts. Where do you come from? Are you hunters?”

Balarama and Krishna smiled and assured the giraffe, that they were not hunters. But friendly people on a sight seeing trip!

Then the friendly animal told Karimukha interesting stories about the jungle life. While Karimukha and the giraffe were exchanging stories, Krishna and Balarama were conversing with each other. Balarama wondered at the diversity of living beings in numerous sizes, colours, and habits!

Krishna said “Mother Boomadevi is eternally doing experiments and she likes that. There is a reason and purpose behind that. This is not only with animals and plants but also with humans. All are governed by a simple rule – “adaptation to one’s environment!”

From the energy of the Sun, depending upon the temperature, water, and other inputs, the vegetable kingdom evolves. Again depending upon that vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom grows, again adapting to their inputs. Then the CARNIVOROUS (meat eating animals) evolve. But mother nature balances life wonderfully. The lions, tigers and predators existing in a balanced harmony in nature. When creatures die and go back to the elements, again srushti (regeneration) starts.”

On their way they saw some lions had killed a zebra, and had their fill. A group of Hyenas was scavenging on the remnants of the zebra’s body. All over the bodies of hyenas, there were black ring patterns. They are about three feet in height and five feet long.

Krishna and Balarama took rest under a tall tree by the side of which there was a river flowing. Some deer, after drinking water came to the shade of the tree. The giraffe was stretching its neck to eat off the higher branches. Karimukha was testing a branch to break it. The giraffe told them the deer was called “KUDU”. A group of Kudus were grazing nearby. It was evening. The golden rays of the setting sun were spread all over the sky. The deer were more than four feet tall, with robustly built bodies.

Krishna was playing flute in a relaxed mood. Some deer surrounded Krishna and became immersed in music. Suddenly there was a rattling noise in the bushes. The kudus’s ears vibrated, sensing the danger. A group of about thirty hyenas were surrounding them, ready to charge.

Balarama quickly attacked the hyenas on the river side with his club and made way for the Kudus to go to the river. All the deers ran towards the river and jumped into it. They were good swimmers, so they escaped. Now the hyenas came to attack Krishna. Krishna roared like a lion. Hyenas were terrorized and ran helter skelter.

The moon rose. Krishna started playing his flute acoompanied by Balarama on the Mridangam. The kudus came back from the river and danced around them. Karimukha and the giraffes kept the beat with their legs. Sage Naradha promptly appeared and joined them.

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