The Sage and the Snake

Many religions use stories in order to convey a particular moral belief. The following story is sometimes used to teach about Hinduism.

A wandering sage arrived in a village. As he entered, he saw a huge, menacing snake. The villagers told the sage that the snake terrorized them and made their life difficult. The sage spoke to the snake and taught him about nonviolence, or ahimsa. The snake heard the sage’s words and took them to heart.

The next year, the sage again came to the village. The once-magnificent snake was now thin and bruised. The sage said, “My friend, what has happened to you?” The snake replied, “Your words showed me the error of my ways, so I not longer acted with violence toward the village. Now they mock me. The children throw stones at me when I try to get food.”

The sage looked at the snake, shaking his head. “My foolish friend,” he said, “I told you not to bite the people. I never told you not to hiss.”

Explain what you think is the message of the story.