Lord Rama and the Squirrel
Tales from Indian Mythology
Retold by Vasu Gangapalli
It was long, long ago, when Lord Rama wanted to cross the sea to reach Lanka, so that he could save Sita from Ravana’s clutches. Lord Rama sat down before the sea and prayed to the sea God, Samudra.
The sea God got impressed by his prayer, arose from the depths of the sea, and stood before Lord Rama and said,
‘O Rama! I’m impressed by your prayer. Please tell me, what could I do for you?’
‘O Samudra dev,’Lord Rama addressed him, ‘We would like to go to Lanka as we have to rescue and bring back Sita. Please provide us the way.’
‘Alright, I suggest you to build a bridge to cross the sea. I would ensure that it stays intact till you go and bring back Sita.’ Samudra replied.
‘Thank you, O Samudra dev,’Lord Rama replied, ‘I would now start building the bridge with the help of my people.’
Samudra vanished into the depths of the sea. The waves of the sea receded in the middle. Lord Rama and Lakshman shot arrows into the sea; they formed two lines and separated waves of the sea. Rama’s army of monkeys got busy building the bridge by placing boulders, rocks and stones in the sea. While they were busy doing this, a tiny squirrel who was having his nap, got disturbed. He peeked outside his tiny borrow in a large banyan tree near the sea shore. He kept staring at the proceedings for a while and he realized what they were doing. He climbed down his tree, deciding to help Rama.
He began picking sand and scattered twigs and scurried back and forth from the shore to the sea. Little by little, the tiny squirrel was able to gather an entire heap.
Lord Rama, who was watching the tiny squirrel in action, was really impressed by his dedication. Also the squirrel saw him watching him. Lord Rama smiled at the squirrel. The squirrel bowed his little head, bringing his two hands together in respect before the Load. Lord Rama bent down on his knees, picked by the tiny squirrel on his palm.
‘My dear friend,’ Lord Rama addressed the squirrel, ‘You may be small, but you are not insignificant!’
Then Lord Rama gently stroked the squirrel with his three fingers. Thus three lines were formed on his back. Lord Rama placed the squirrel back on the ground. The squirrel dashed back towards his tree. His friends and family were really impressed by his new look and admired him for helping Lord Rama. They too wished to be blessed by Lord Rama. On his advice, they too did the same thing what he had done.
The squirrel again went to Lord Rama and pleaded with folded hands.
‘O Rama, kindly bless my family and friends too. Let them too have your imprints on their backs!’
Lord Rama smiled at him, and had a glance at the other squirrels, who were waiting eagerly for his response.
Lord Rama picked up the squirrel on his palm, and stroked his back with his fingers once again. Immediately, three lines were formed on each and every squirrel over there. They all bowed before the Lord in respect, before disappearing into their tiny dwellings.
Since then, it is believed that squirrels have three lines on their body.