The Humane Hunter | A Folk Tale from Arunachal Pradesh

Once upon a time, there dwelt two siblings atop a mountain where the first rays of sunlight would touch each dawn. Possessing robust health and strength, the brothers shared a close bond despite their contrasting personalities. The elder brother exuded compassion, while the younger one displayed a callous nature and derived pleasure from hunting.

The elder brother exerted great effort to persuade his younger sibling to cease the senseless slaughter of innocent creatures. In turn, the younger brother endeavored to convince the elder to embrace the thrill of hunting. Firmly believing in the principle of survival of the fittest, he considered it the natural order to hunt defenseless animals for amusement. Remaining true to his conviction, he continued to pursue hunting, which both served as his profession and ignited his passion. To halt his younger brother’s relentless hunting spree, the elder brother devised a plan.

He proposed to his younger brother that he would transform himself into a deer and venture through the forest. If the younger brother managed to capture and slay him before sunset, the elder brother would also partake in hunting starting from the following day. However, should the younger brother fail to kill the deer, he would renounce hunting forever. Eager to settle the matter once and for all, the younger brother readily agreed.

The ensuing morning, the elder brother assumed the form of a deer and swiftly raced through the woods. The deer sprinted with unmatched swiftness, gradually wearing down the younger brother. It was an unfamiliar experience for him to pursue prey for such an extended period! As his thirst intensified, he yearned desperately for a sip of water.

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Coincidentally, the fatigued deer also sought respite near a stream. Positioned at opposite ends of the watercourse, the two brothers prepared to quench their thirst. Sensing the younger brother’s intent to strike, the deer swiftly concealed itself behind a cluster of bushes.

Frustrated, the younger brother cast aside his bow and arrows, beckoning the deer to reveal itself and satisfy its own thirst. He further vowed to never harm another creature. The deer and the younger brother drank their fill of water, contentedly satiating their thirst. In order to ensure his younger brother’s commitment to his promise, the elder brother chose to remain in the form of a deer indefinitely.

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