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Peaceable Forest cover

India’s Tale of Kindness to Animals


In this ancient parable from India, a forest-dwelling hunter learns that cruelty has consequences and that compassion has rewards. When the hunter meets the wise man Narada, “Do unto others as they would do unto you” takes on a very concrete meaning as the sage leads the hunter on an imagined journey in which the hunter becomes the hunted. When the hunter realizes how his actions affect other living beings, he has a change of heart and begins to live in peace with the animals he once pursued.

KOSA ELY adapts this traditional Indian tale into an inviting narrative that presents the universal golden rule in a new and appealing way. Anna Johansson’s richly detailed illustrations evoke the animal kingdom and enchanted forests with fine lines and luminous colors. The Peaceable Forest is the ideal picture book to inspire young readers to respect life in all its forms.

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“An inspirational story from the East, this beautiful book teaches children the importance of ahimsa (nonviolence). The Peaceable Forest deserves to be read and contemplated, shared and given to others.”
—Jack Canfield, coauthor of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series

“By reading The Peaceable Forest children will come to understand the deeper meaning behind nonviolence to animals, and peace in general.”
­­—Pia, award-winning singer, songwriter

“This is a beautiful story told in gentle words and evocative drawings, expressing the eternal message of kindness and non-violence. I loved reading it and look forward to sharing it with my little boy.”
–Jai Uttal, singer, songwriter

“The Peaceable Forest is sensational! Beautiful text, beautiful art, beautiful message. The unity and fraternity of all that lives has never been more charmingly presented.”
–H. D. Goswami, Ph.D. Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University

“This is a beautiful retelling of a Vedic classic. Anyone interested in the spiritual dimensions of animal activism will enjoy this book immensely. The illustrations perfectly capture the mood of the storyline and will help any child or parent embrace the entire sphere of spiritual equality.”
–Paul Rodney Turner, Director, Food for Life Global

“In these times of uncurbed violence against animals this charming story can reach the hearts of the young. Thus a seed of cherishing and practice of nonviolence can be sown: eventually this seed may fructify in their own lives, helping sustain a vision that needs desperately to be spread to all the far reaches of our ailing planet.”
–Kenneth R. Valpey (Ph.D., Oxon), Research Fellow, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

“One of Yoga’s most endearing stories of personal transformation re-told for a modern audience. Kosa Ely has done it again with this enchanting book. Overflowing with captivating illustrations by Anna Johansson this book is sure to become a treasured gem in our library. I can’t wait to read it to my kids tonight.”
–Gaura Vani, Kirtan artist

“The Peaceable Forest evokes kindness, friendship, responsibility, divinity, and love…
A must read for every child… a must have for every library…”
–Dr. Mega M. Subramaniam, University of Maryland

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Background of the Story

This ancient story took place in India, in the sacred forest of Prayaga, many hundreds of years ago. The names of the characters are in the Sanskrit language: Narada (naa-ra-da) means “giver of wisdom”; Mrigari (mre-gar-e) means “enemy of animals”; and Chakor (chah-kor) means “a bird who loves the moon.”


All of the animals in the illustrations are native to India: Sloth bears, Langur monkeys, Blackbuck antelope, tigers, wild boars, deer, rabbits, chipmunks, tortoises, foxes, elephants, buffalo, panthers, and more.

Look for these Indian birds: Sarus cranes, peacocks, Ring-neck Parrots, Blue-winged Malabhar Parakeets, Crimson Sunbirds, and Tailorbirds.

Trees and flowers native to India include the Banyan tree, Magnolia tree, Date Palm tree and Tulasi tree.


Along with practicing nonviolence, Narada instructed Mrigari to live a simple and pure life, serving the Tulasi tree and continuously chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra.

Several months later Sage Narada came with Parvata Muni to visit Mrigari. Overjoyed to see his teacher approaching, Mrigari ran out to meet the sages. As he began to bow down in humility before Narada, Mrigari noticed ants on the ground, and began gently sweeping them aside with his cloth. The sages were pleased to see the complete transformation of Mrigari — he was now unwilling to hurt even an ant.

Origin of this Story

The history of Mrigari the hunter and Sage Narada took place more than five hundred years ago. Shri Krishna Chaitanya narrated the story to Sanatana Goswami, and Krishnadas Kaviraraja Goswami later recorded it in the biographical work titled Chaitanya Charitamrita in the Bengali language.

The translation and commentary of these ancient texts by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami* are the basis of my retelling.

*The Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1968), and Caitanya Caritamrita (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1975)

My Own Story

In 1976 I had the good fortune to read The Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, and to contemplate the hunter’s deliverance. Already a vegetarian and proponent of non-violence, I wanted to share the knowledge of karma and the blessings of the sages to others.

Young and enthusiastic, over the next ten years I distributed more than 100,000 vegetarian cookbooks and yoga books extolling the benefits of a non-violent diet and way of life.

From our temple kitchen and restaurant in Laguna Beach we introduced local residents and international tourists to delicious, healthy vegetarian meals. We joined forces with fantastic vegetarian cooks to feed thousands of young people at festivals, Rainbow Gatherings, Grateful Dead concerts, and Sunday love Feasts. While in India we assisted Food for Life Global in vegetarian food distribution to tens of thousands of people in need.

I am happy to see the increasing number of people choosing a non-violent diet: for the animals, the planet, and for their own health and wellbeing. I sincerely hope this book, The Peaceable Forest, will bring love and light to the next generation, inspiring them to “love animals and not eat them.”

Special Thanks to

Artist extraordinaire, Anna Johansson
Publisher, Raoul Goff
Editor Joshua Greene, Art director and designer Chrissy Kwasnik, Production Manager Jane Chinn, and the rest of the Insight Editions team.
My dad, mom, husband, kids, sisters, and brother for being awesome.
Inga Canfield, for believing in me, and making impossible things possible.
Jack Canfield, for his mentoring and encouragement.
Nitai Sharana, Kaisori Bellach, Raghu Consbruck, Govinda Cordeau, Pranada Comtois, and Chitra Gunderson for their friendship, advice and support.

Reviewers John Robbins, Jack Canfield, Jai Uttal, Pia, Dr. Graham Schweig, Steven J. Rosen, Dr. Mega Subramaniam, Dr. Edith Best, H.D. Goswami, Mitchell J. Rabin, Kavi Noland, Kenneth R. Valpey, Paul Rodney Turner, Gaura Vani, Lynn Burwash, David Shapiro, Lauren Teller, Dr. Tanmay Lele, Vasu Murti, Dr. Vishal S. Vaidya.

My spiritual master Srila Prabhupada, Sage Narada, and all the great teachers of ahimsa.

And to all of you who offer blessings, who purchase books, give donations, share the book’s message, and practice ahimsa in your own life —I humbly acknowledge you and sincerely thank you.

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