Once upon a time, there was a deer who was the leader of a herd of a thousand. He had two sons. One was very slim and tall, with bright alert eyes, and smooth reddish fur. He was called Beauty. The other was gray in color, also slim and tall, and was called Gray.
One day, after they were fully grown, their father called Beauty and Gray to him. He said, “I am now very old, so I cannot do all that is necessary to look after this big herd of deer. I want you, my two grown up children, to be the leaders, while I retire from looking after them all the time. We will divide the herd, and each of you will lead 500 deer.” So it was done.
In India, when the harvest time comes, the deer are always in danger. The rice is at its tallest, and the deer cannot help but go into the paddies and eat it. To avoid the destruction of their crops, the human beings dig pits, set sharp stakes in the ground, and build stone traps – all to capture and kill the deer.
Knowing this was the season, the wise old deer called the two new leaders to him. He advised them to take the herds up into the mountain forest, far from the dangerous farm lands. This was how he had always saved the deer from being wounded or killed. Then he would bring them back to the low lands after the harvest was over.
Since he was too old and weak for the trip, he would remain behind in hiding. He warned them to be careful and have a safe journey. Beauty set out with his herd for the mountain forest, and so did Gray with his.
The villagers all along the way knew that this was the time the deer moved from the low lying farm lands to the high countryside. So they hid along the way and killed the deer as they passed by.
Gray did not pay attention to his father’s wise advice. Instead of being careful and traveling safely, he was in a hurry to get to the lush mountain forest. So he moved his herd constantly, during the night, at dawn and dusk, and even in broad daylight. This made it easy for the people to shoot the deer in Gray’s herd with bows and arrows. Many were killed, and many were wounded, only to die in pain later on. Gray reached the forest with only a few deer remaining alive.
The tall sleek red-furred Beauty, was wise enough to understand the danger to his moving herd. So he was very careful. He knew it was safer to stay away from the villages, and from all humans. He knew it was not safe in the daytime, or even at dawn or dusk. So he led his herd wide around the villages, and moved only in the middle of the night. Beauty’s herd arrived in the mountain forest safe and sound, with no one killed or injured.
The two herds found each other, and remained in the mountains until well after the harvest season was over. Then they began the return to the farmland country.