How the chipmunk got his stripes, is one of the episodes in the Ramayana. It happened in this way: King Rama has to get a bridge built, from the land of India to the island of Sri Lanka. It looks like quite a jump, doesn’t it? Actually there is ocean bed not far under the water — a kind of natural bridge. Well, the whole of Rama’s army and all the company which followed him are anxious to have the king rescue his queen, Sita, from the demon kingdom in Sri Lanka. They all pitch in to pile up stones and logs and soil and sand to bridge the gap.
One day what do they see but a little chipmunk, rolling himself in sand and running back and forth to the bridge and shaking himself there.
“What are you doing?” someone asks him. “I am helping to build Rama’s bridge,” said the little one. Everybody laughs. They are bringing tons of sand for the bridge, and here is what the chipmunk is doing! But Rama had made many friends among the birds and animals of the forests, during his long exile. He sees all this and says, “Blessed be the little chipmunk; he is doing his work as best he can, he is just as great as any of you.” Affectionately he bends down and strokes the little animal down its back. And because Rama is God Himself, you can see the marks of his fingers on all the descendants of the chipmunk.