Once upon a time there lived a queen
in the city of Benaras. Her name was Khema and she was the wife of King
Bahuputtaka, which means 'father of many sons'. One night, the Queen had a dream of a beautiful golden goose that spoke with great wisdom, almost
as if he was a sage. She told her husband that she desperately wanted to
see a bird just like the one that she had seen in her dream.
So the King asked his ministers to find out all that they could about a bird such as this. He was told that such a bird did exist but was extremely rare and difficult to find. They advised him to build a beautiful lake on the outskirts of Benaras
so that he may attract such rare and lovely creatures to reside there.
In this way the queen might have her wish.
Towards the north, on Mount Cittakuta,
there lived about ninety thousand wild geese headed by a beautifulgolden
goose called King Dhatarattha. He got to hear of this exquisite lake that
was surrounded by flowers and trees and had lovely water lilies and lotuses
floating on the surface. The king had named this lake after his wife Khema
and had invited all the birds to come and live on it, promising that none
of them would ever be harmed. Corn was scattered on a daily basis in order
to attract the birds.
So a couple of geese went up to
their King and told him that they were quite tired of living up on the
mountains and would like to see this wonderful lake where they had been
promised food and protection. The king agreed to their request
and took the whole flock down south towards Benaras.
Meanwhile, at the lake the King
had placed hunters all around in order to capture any golden goose that
happened to pass by. So the next morning when the headhunter saw this flock
of geese approaching he was very excited to see their golden leader. He
immediately went about setting up a snare amongst the water lilies and
lotuses, as he knew that the leader would definitely be the first to alight.
The whole flock came flying down
in one mighty swoop and as expected it was the King's foot that touched
the water first. He was ensnared and could not escape. Seeing this the
other geese flew into a panic and honked in distress. But none had the
courage to try to free their king and so flew back to Mount Cittacuta for
safety. All except one. He was the chief captain, Sumukha.
His King entreated him to fly to
safety too, as he would surely be captured if he stayed by his side. But
Sumukha replied that he would never desert his master in the face of danger
and would either try to save him or die by his side.
At this point the head huntsman
approached and as Sumukha saw him he decided to appeal to his compassion.
The hunter asked the King how come he had not noticed the trap that was
set. The golden goose replied that when one's time was up it was no use
to struggle against what was fated and one must just accept it. The huntsman
was very impressed with his grace and wisdom. He then turned to Sumukha
and asked why he had not fled with the other birds even though he was free to do so. Sumukha answered that this was his King, best friend and master
and that he could never desert him even at the cost of his own life.
Hearing this the hunter realised
that these were a couple of rare birds of great nobility. And were he to
harm them, the gods would certainly punish him. Besides, he did not much care for his own King's reward and decided to do the right thing and set
them free. He told Sumukha that as he was ready to die for his King he
would set them both free to fly wherever they may.
He then set loose the foot of the
golden goose and washed the wound clean. And when he made an attempt to
fix the dislocated muscle "lo behold".. the foot was miraculously whole
again as if it had never been hurt. Sumukha greatly blessed the hunter
for his act of compassion and his King asked whether he had set the trap
for himself or at someone else's command. The hunter answered that he had
done it on the orders of his own King. He then went on to narrate to them
the whole story about the queen's dream and her wish to see this rare golden
On hearing this, the golden goose
decided to go and meet the monarch, as he knew that the hunter would receive
his reward. He had also heard about the wisdom and goodness of King Bahuputakka
and thought that if he appeared out of his own free will, the monarch might
allow him and his flock to come visit the lake. He therefore asked the
hunter to take him to his King. The hunter advised him against it because
he was worried that his monarch might imprison these two lovely creatures.
But the golden goose explained that
just as they had been able to soften a hunter's heart it should not be
too difficult to do the same to a great and noble King. He asked him to
do his duty and leave the rest to him.
So the hunter set out to go to the
palace accompanied by these two noble, gorgeous creatures. Needless to
say that the King and Queen were absolutely delighted to see these two
beautiful birds. The King set them on a golden perch and fed them himself,
with honey, grain and sweetened milk. Then he spent the whole night discussing
kingship and all its duties with this King of Geese. The golden goose did
his best to offer good advice and encouragement in accordance with his
In the morning he thanked the King
and Queen for their hospitality and friendship and flew back to his flock
accompanied by his faithful friend and chief captain Sumukha.
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- The Indiaparenting Team