King Elara, the just | Sunday Observer

King Elara, the just

5 September, 2021

King Elara was a king of the Chola Dynasty of the Chola Kingdom of South India. He conquered a part of Sri Lanka including the ancient Royal Capital of Anuradhapura and ruled it from BC 205 to BC 161. He was a just king. In other words, he was fair to everyone.

His great sense of justice led him to have a ‘Justice Bell’.

This was a bell which hung above his bedhead with a very long rope hanging out of the window. Anyone who had a complaint could ring this bell. The King would look into it and see that they were given a fair solution to the problem.

A cow rings the ‘Justice Bell’

One day, King Elara heard the ‘Justice Bell’ and when he went outside to see who was ringing the bell, he was amazed to see that it was a cow.

He also saw a dead calf lying on the road a little way from the palace.

It was obvious to the King that the mother of the dead calf who was ringing the bell and asking for justice.

The King promptly made inquiries as to who killed the calf. To his horror he found that his son had killed the calf.

The Prince had been returning from a trip to the Tissa or Thisa wewa (tank) and had been driving his chariot rather recklessly. He had run over the calf with a wheel of his Royal Chariot. On seeing that it was a calf and not a human being he had gone on his way.

As hard as it was for the King, his sense of justice and would not allow him to let his son, the Prince, go unpunished for his crime. He had the Prince put to death by having the Royal Chariot run over him.

After this, the King shut himself up in the palace for days and mourned for his son.

The bird and the cobra

One-day, King Elara heard his ‘Justice Bell’ ringing and went to his bedroom window and looked out. He saw a bird pulling on the rope with all its might and main.

The King also saw an empty nest on a tree and a cobra sleeping at the foot of the tree. The cobra’s stomach was bulging. It was obvious it had had a good meal.

It was obvious to the King what had happened. While the mother bird was away looking for food, the cobra had climbed the tree and swallowed the baby bird for his meal.

When the mother bird returned and saw what had happened she was shocked and distraught. Determined to seek justice for her tragedy she rang the ‘Justice Bell’.

To give the mother bird justice King Elara had the cobra killed. The baby bird was taken out of its stomach but sadly, it was dead. Cobras and other snakes crush the bones of their prey before swallowing them. The King had the cobra’s carcass hung on the Palace wall.

The old woman’s tale of woe

In King Elara’s kingdom there lived a poor, old woman. She had only a little paddy left. She was drying it in the sun when a sudden shower fell and the paddy was ruined by the rain water.

Starvation faced the poor woman and in desperation she went and rang the ‘Justice Bell’. King Elara listened to her tale of woe, comforted her and gave her fresh paddy. He also told her that he would try to make the rain fall at reasonable periods.

The old woman went away happily blessing the King.

The King then meditated, fasted and prayed about there being only regular rain.

It is said that after this the Rain Gods sent rain only once a week in the evenings.