As we all know, King Brahmadutta
of Benaras was extremely fond of hunting. Luckily for him, on the outskirts
of the city was a huge forest filled with deer and a mighty stag.
One fine day, when he was out hunting, he warned his courtiers not to allow a single deer to escape or he would have them severely punished. So the courtiers formed a tight circle and decided to send the deer in the direction of the King. The courtiers surrounded a thicket and beat their sticks on the ground until they saw a stag escape. But as their circle was so tight the only escape route that the stag could see was towards the King who was standing alone at the end of the path.
So the stag looked him straight in the eye and made a dash towards him. The King was taken aback and shot
an arrow towards him hurriedly. Of course it missed the mark. Now there
is one thing that you must know about the stag. It has excellent instincts
and is extremely good at dodging arrows, whether shot at from the back,
front or even the top. If an arrow is aimed at its belly, it pretends to
roll over and then jumps up and runs once the danger has passed.
So when this stag rolled over the
King assumed that his arrow had found its mark. But the stag suddenly jumped
up and shot passed the men. When the courtiers realised that the King had
been mistaken they started to ridicule him.
Now the King thought himself to be
an excellent marksman and could not bear the taunts of his men. He grabbed
his sword and set off into the forest in order to catch the stag. He chased the stag for quite a while and covered a long distance.
The stag came upon a hole in the
ground that was covered by a rotting tree and filled with slime. From a distance it could smell the dirty water and so was careful not to run over
it. But the King could not sense the pit and fell right into it. After
awhile the stag realised that he was not being followed any longer and
realised that the King could have fallen into the pit.
So he went back to the pit and saw
the King struggling for his life. He felt very sorry for him and decided
to save his life even though the King was following him with the intention
to kill him. He told the King not to worry and to be brave for awhile longer.
He then caught a huge rock with his hind legs and lowered himself into
the pit. The King caught hold of his neck and the stag climbed out onto
the level ground and carried the King to safety.
The King thanked the noble stag profusely
and asked him to return with him to Benaras, where he could rule beside
him. But the stag had no interest in a kingdom and simply requested the
king to rule his kingdom wisely and well, with kindness and compassion. And then the noble stag disappeared into the forest.
With a grateful heart the King returned
to Benaras and announced that from this day on all his subjects were to
live a life of goodness, kindness and generosity. That night he went to
bed a changed man and woke up singing praises of the stag. When he was
chanting the hymn in praise of the stag, his priest was approaching to
check on the King's well being. On hearing the hymn, he pieced the facts
together and realised that the King had been saved by the stag.
He entered the King's chamber and
told him what had occurred on the previous day. The King was surprised
and asked the priest whether he could read minds, but the priest answered
that as he had heard the King singing he had managed to piece the facts
together. The King was very impressed and gave him a big reward. He also
promised to live a virtuous and generous life and give alms regularly to
the poor. All his subjects also followed this good example set by the King
and the city of Benaras witnessed a golden period.
All of a sudden there was an influx
of good souls in heaven. Sakka, the King of heaven began to wonder where
all these new sons and daughters were coming from. He then recalled the
incident when King Brahmadutta's life was transformed by the stag and realised
that all his subjects had been transformed too. That explained the influx
of good souls in heaven. Sakka now decided to test the goodness of the
King. So he made himself invisible and came down to earth.
On that very morning the King was
in the royal park with his priest and was doing his routine target practice.
Just as the King was about to shoot the target, Sakka made a stag appear
before the target and the King immediately put his bow and arrow down.
Then Sakka spoke through the priest and encouraged the King to shoot the
stag saying that his meat was very tasty and fit for the kings.
But the virtuous King refused to
kill the stag saying that he had once saved his life and he would not perform
such a dastardly deed. And then the priest said that if the King were to
kill the stag he would be made king of gods. But if he did not do so, he
would be sent to hell along with all his children and his queen.
But the virtuous King chose hell
and sure death over hurting the beloved friend who had saved his life.
Sakka was highly impressed and appeared in his real form to bless the King.
He blessed him with a long life and happiness and promised him that when
he came to heaven he would reign among the gods.
He said that after a long and wonderful
rule on earth, heaven would be his final reward. Saying this, Sakka returned
to his heavenly abode.
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- The Indiaparenting Team