The Brahman who died because Poison from a Snake in the Claws of a Hawk
fell into a Dish of Food given him by a Charitable Woman. Who is to blame
for his death?
Then the King went back under the sissoo tree, put the goblin on his
shoulder, and started as before. And as he walked along, the goblin said
to him again: "O King, listen to a very condensed story."
There is a city called Benares. In it lived a Brahman named Devaswami,
whom the king honoured. He was very rich, and he had a son named Hariswami.
This son had a wonderful wife, and her name was Beautiful. No doubt the
Creator put together in her the priceless elements of charm and loveliness
after his practice in making the nymphs of heaven.
One night Hariswami was sleeping on a balcony cooled by the rays of the
moon. And a fairy prince named Love-speed was flying through the air, and
as he passed he saw Beautiful asleep beside her husband. He took her,
still asleep, and carried her off through the air.
Presently Hariswami awoke, and not seeing the mistress of his life, he
rose in anxiety. And he wondered: "Oh, where has my wife gone? Is she
angry with me? Or is she playing hide-and- seek with me, to see how I will
take it?" So he roamed anxiously all over the balcony during the rest of
the night. But he did not find her, though he searched as far as the
Then he was overcome by his sorrow and sobbed convulsively. "Oh,
Beautiful, my darling! Fair as the moon! White as the moonlight! Was the
night jealous of your beauty; did she carry you away? Your loveliness
shamed the moon who refreshed me with beams cool as sandal; but now that
you are gone, the same beams torment me like blazing coals, like poisoned
And as Hariswami lamented thus, the night came to an end, but his
anguish did not end. The pleasant sun scattered the darkness, but could
not scatter the blind darkness of Hariswami's madness. His pitiful
lamentations increased a hundredfold, when the nightly cries of the birds
ended. His relatives tried to comfort him, but he could not pluck up
courage while his loved one was lost. He went here and there, sobbing out:
"Here she stood. And here she bathed. And here she adorned herself. And
here she played."
His relatives and friends gave him good advice. "She is not dead," they
said. "Why should you make way with yourself? You will surely find her.
Pluck up courage and hunt for her. Nothing is impossible to the brave and
determined man." And when they urged him, Hariswami after some days
plucked up heart.
He thought: "I will give all my fortune to the Brahmans, and then
wander to holy places. Thus I will wear away my sins, and when my sins are
gone, perhaps I shall find my darling in my wanderings." So he arose and
On the next day he provided food and drink, and made a great feast for
the Brahmans, and gave them all he had except his piety. Then he started
to wander to holy places, hoping to find his wife.
As he wandered, the summer came on him like a lion, the blazing sun its
mouth, and the sunbeams its mane. And the hot wind blew, made hotter yet
by the sighs of travellers separated from their wives. And the yellow mud
dried and cracked, as if the lakes were broken-hearted at the loss of
their lotuses. And the trees, filled with chirping birds, seemed to lament
the absence of the spring, and their withering leaves seemed like lips
that grow dry in the heat.
At this time Hariswami was distressed by the heat and the loss of his
wife, by hunger, thirst, and weariness. And as he sought for food, he came
to a village. There he saw many Brahmans eating in the house of a Brahman
named Lotus-belly, and he leaned against the doorpost, speechless and
Then the good wife of that pious Brahman pitied him, and she thought:
"Hunger is a heavy burden. It makes anyone light. Look at this hungry man
standing with bowed head at the door. He looks like a pious man who has
come from a far country, and he is tired. Therefore he is a proper person
for me to feed."
So the good woman took in her hands a dish filled with excellent rice,
melted butter, and candied sugar, and courteously gave it to him. And she
said: "Go to the edge of our pond, and eat it."
He thanked her, took the dish, went a little way, and set it down under
a fig-tree on the edge of the pond. Then he washed his hands and feet in
the pond, rinsed his mouth, and joyfully drew near to eat the good food.
At that moment a hawk settled on the tree, carrying a black snake in
his beak and claws. And the snake died in the grasp of the hawk, and his
mouth opened, and a stream of poison came out. This poison fell into the
dish of food.
But Hariswami did not see it. He came up hungry, and ate it all. And
immediately he felt the terrible effects of the poison. He stammered out:
"Oh, when fate goes wrong, everything goes wrong. Even this rice and the
milk and the melted butter and the candied sugar is poison to me." And he
staggered up to the Brahman's wife and said: "Oh, Brahman's wife, I have
been poisoned by the food you gave me. Bring a poison-doctor at once.
Otherwise you will be the murderer of a Brahman."
And the good woman was terribly agitated. But while she was running
about to find a poison-doctor, Hariswami turned up his eyes and died.
Thus, though she was not to blame, though she was really charitable, the
poor wife was reproached by the angry Brahman who thought she had murdered
her guest. She was falsely accused for a really good action. So she was
dejected and went on a pilgrimage.
When he had told this story, the goblin said: "O King, who murdered the
Brahman? the snake, or the hawk, or the woman who gave him the food, or
her husband? This was discussed in the presence of the god of death, but
they could not decide. Therefore, O King, do you say. Who killed the
Brahman? Remember the curse, if you know and do not tell the truth."
Then the king broke silence and said: "Who did the murder? The snake
cannot be blamed, because he was being eaten by his enemy and could not
help himself. The hawk was hungry and saw nothing. He was not to blame.
And how can you blame either or both of the charitable people who gave
food to a guest who arrived unexpectedly? They were quite virtuous, and
cannot be blamed. I should say that the dead man himself was to blame, for
he dared to accuse one of the others."
When the goblin heard this, he jumped from the king's shoulder and
escaped to the sissoo tree. And the king ran after him again, determined
to catch him.
The Girl who showed Great Devotion to the Thief. Did he weep or laugh?
Then the king went back to the sissoo tree, put the goblin on his
shoulder, and started. And as he walked along, the goblin said to him: "O
King, I will tell you another story. Listen."
There is a city called Ayodhya, which was once the capital of Rama the
exterminator of giants. In this city lived a strong-armed king named
Hero-banner who protected the world as a wall protects a city. During his
reign a great merchant named Jewel lived in the city. His wife was named
Pleasing, and a daughter named Pearl was given to her prayers.
As the girl grew up in her father's house, her natural virtues grew
too: beauty, charm, and modesty. And thus she became a young woman. Now in
her young womanhood she was asked in marriage not only by great merchants,
but even by kings. But she was prudent and did not like men. She would not
have loved a god if he had been her husband. She was ready to die at
merely hearing talk of her marriage. So her father was silent on the
subject, though his tender love for her made him sad. And the story was
known everywhere in Ayodhya.
At this time all the citizens were being plundered by thieves, and they
petitioned King Hero-banner in these words: "O King, we are plundered
every night by thieves, and cannot catch them. Your Majesty must decide
what to do." So the king stationed night-watchmen in hiding about the
city, to search out the thieves.
When the watchmen failed to catch the thieves for all their searching,
the king himself took his sword, and wandered about alone at night. And he
saw a man creeping along a wall with noiseless steps, often casting a
fearful glance behind him. The king concluded that this was the thief who
all alone robbed the city, and went up to him. And the thief asked him who
he was. The king replied: "I am a thief."
Then the thief said joyfully: "Good! You are my friend. Come to my
house. I will treat you like a friend." So the king agreed and went with
the thief to a house hidden in a grove and guarded by a wall, full of
delightful and beautiful things, and bright with shining gems. There the
thief offered the king a seat, and went into an inner room.
At that moment a serving-maid came into the room and said to the king:
"Your Majesty, why have you come into the jaws of death? This wonderful
thief has gone out, intending to do you a mischief. He is certainly
treacherous. Go away quickly."
So the king quickly went away, returned to the city, and drew up a
company of soldiers. With these soldiers he went and surrounded the house
where the serving-maid had been.
When the thief saw that the house was surrounded, he knew that he was
betrayed, and came out to fight and die like a man. He showed more than
human valour. He cut off the trunks of elephants, the legs of horses, and
the heads of men; and he was all alone, with only his sword and shield.
When the king saw that his army was destroyed, he ran forward himself.
The king was a scientific swordsman, so with a turn of his wrist he
sent the sword and the dagger flying from the thief's hand. Then he threw
away his own sword, wrestled with the thief, threw him, and took him
The next morning the thief was led to the place of execution to be
impaled, and the drums were beaten. And Pearl, the merchant's daughter,
saw him from her balcony. All bloody and dusty as he was, she went mad
with love, found her father, and said to him: "Father, I am going to marry
that thief who is being led to execution. You must save him from the king.
Otherwise I shall die with him."
But her father said: "What do you mean, my daughter? That thief stole
everything the citizens had, and the king's men are going to kill him. How
can I save him from the king? Besides, what nonsense are you talking?" But
the more he scolded, the more determined she became. And as he loved his
daughter, he went to the king and offered all he had for the release of
But the king would not be tempted by millions. He would not release the
thief who stole everything, whom he had captured at the risk of his life.
So the father returned home sadly. And the girl, not heeding the arguments
of her relatives, took a bath, entered a litter, and went to the
death-scene of the rogue, to die with him. Her parents and her relatives
followed her, weeping.
At that moment the executioners impaled the thief. As his life ebbed
away, he saw the girl and the people with her, and learned her story. Then
the tears rolled down his cheeks, but he died with a smile on his lips.
The faithful girl took the thief's body from the stake, and mounted the
pyre to burn herself. But the blessed god Shiva was staying invisibly in
the cemetery, and at that moment he spoke from the sky: "O faithful wife,
I am pleased with your constancy to the husband of your choice. Choose
whatever boon you will from me."
The girl worshipped the gracious god and chose her boon: "O blessed
one, my father has no son. May he have a hundred. Otherwise his childless
life would end when I am gone."
And the god spoke again from the sky: "O faithful wife, your father
shall have a hundred sons. But choose another boon. A woman faithful as
you are deserves more than the little thing you asked."
Then she said: "O god, if I have won your favour, may this my husband
live and always be a good man."
The invisible Shiva spoke from the sky: "So be it. Your husband shall
be made alive and well. He shall be a good man, and King Hero-banner shall
be pleased with him."
Then the thief arose at once, alive and well. And the merchant Jewel
was overjoyed and astonished. He took Pearl and the thief, his son-in-law,
went home with his rejoicing relatives, and made a feast great as his own
delight, in honour of the sons he was to have.
And the king was pleased when he learned the story, and in recognition
of the stupendous courage of the thief, he appointed him general at once.
The thief reformed, married the merchant's daughter, and lived happily
with her, devoted to virtue.
When the goblin had told this story, he reminded the king of the curse,
and said: "O king, when the thief on the stake saw the merchant's daughter
approaching with her father, did he weep or laugh? Tell me."
And the king answered: "He thought: I can make no return to this
merchant for his unselfish friendship.' Therefore he wept from grief. And
he also thought: Why does this girl reject kings and fall in love with a
thief like me? How strange women are!' Therefore he laughed from
When the goblin heard this, he immediately slipped from the king's
shoulder and escaped to his home. But the king was not discouraged. He
followed him to the sissoo tree.
The Man who changed into a Woman at Will. Was his wife his or the other
So the king went back as before under the sissoo tree, put the goblin
on his shoulder, and started toward the monk. And as he walked along, the
goblin told the king a story.
There was a city called Shivapur in Nepal. Long ago a king named
Glory-banner lived there, and he deserved the name. He laid the burden of
government on his counsellor named Ocean- of-Wisdom, and devoted himself
to a life of pleasure with his wife Moonbright.
In course of time a daughter named Moonlight was born to them, pleasing
as the moonlight to the eyes of men. When she grew up, she went one day in
spring with her servants to a festival in the garden.
There she was seen by a Brahman youth named Master- mind, the son of
Rich, who had come there to the festival. When he saw her plucking flowers
with one arm uplifted, he went mad with love. His heart was taken captive
by the gay maiden, and he was no longer master of his mind.
He thought: "Is she the goddess of love, plucking the spring flowers in
person? Or is she a forest goddess, come here to worship the spring-time?"
Then the princess saw him, like a new god of love incarnate. The moment
her eyes fell on him, she fell in love, forgetting her flowers and even
her own limbs. While they looked at each other, lost in love like people
in a picture, a great wail of anguish arose. They lifted their heads to
learn what the matter was, and just then an elephant that had broken his
chain, maddened by the scent of another mad elephant, came by, crushing
the people in his path. He had thrown off his driver and the ankus hung
from him as he ran. And everyone fled in terror.
But the youth Master-mind ran up in a hurry and took the princess in
his arms. And with a mixture of fear and love and modesty she half
embraced him as he carried her far out of the elephant's path. Then her
people gradually gathered, and she went to the palace, looking at the
youth, and burning over the flame of love.
And the youth went home from the garden, and thought: "I cannot live, I
cannot exist a moment without her. I must seek help from my teacher Root,
who is a thorough rogue." And so the day slowly passed.
The next morning he went to his teacher Root, and found him with his
constant friend Moon. He drew near, bowed, and told his desire. And the
teacher laughed and promised to help him.
So that wonderful rogue put a magic pill in his mouth, and thus changed
himself into an old Brahman. He put a second pill into Master-mind's
mouth, which changed him into a lovely girl. Then that prince of rogues
took him to the king and said: "O King, this maiden has come a long
distance to marry my only son. But my son has gone away, and I am going to
look for him. Please keep the girl. For you are a protector to be trusted
while I am looking for my son."
The king was afraid of a curse, so he promised to do it. And summoning
his daughter, he said: "Daughter, keep this maiden in your chamber, and
let her live with you." So the girl took the Brahman youth Master-mind in
his girl form to her own apartments.
When Root had gone away, Master-mind in his girl form lived with his
beloved, and in a few days came to know her in an intimate and loving way,
as girl friends do. Then when he saw that she was pining away and tossing
on her couch, he asked the princess one evening: "My dear girl, why do you
grow pale and thin day by day, grieving as if separated from your love?
Tell me. Why not trust a loving, innocent girl like me? If you will not
tell me, I shall starve myself."
And the princess trusted him and said after a little hesitation: "My
dear girl, why should I not trust you? Listen. I will tell you. One day I
went to the spring festival in the garden. There I saw a handsome Brahman
youth, fair as the moon but not so cold, the sight of whom kindled my
love. For he adorned the garden as the spring-time does. While my eager
eyes were feasting on his face, a great mad elephant that had broken his
chain came charging and thundering past like a black cloud in the dry
season. My servants scattered in terror, and I was helpless. But the
Brahman youth took me in his arms and carried me far away. I seemed to be
in a sandal bath, in a stream of nectar. I cannot tell how I felt as I
touched him. Presently my servants gathered around, and I was brought here
helpless. I felt as if I had fallen from heaven to earth. From that day I
see in my thoughts my dear preserver beside me. I embrace him in my
dreams. What need of more words? I wear away the time, thinking constantly
of him and only him. The fire of separation from the lord of my life
devours me day and night."
When Master-mind heard these welcome words, he rejoiced and counted
himself happy. And thinking the time to reveal himself had come, he took
the pill from his mouth, and disclosed his natural form. And he said:
"Beautiful maiden, I am he whom you bought and enslaved with a kindly
glance in the garden. I was sick at the separation from you; so I took the
form of a girl, and came here. So now bring heaven in a loving glance to
my love-tortured heart."
When the princess saw that the lord of her life was beside her, she was
torn between love and wonder and modesty, and did not know what she ought
to do. So they were secretly married and lived there in supreme happiness.
Master-mind lived in a double form. By day he was a girl with the pill in
his mouth, by night a man without the pill.
After a time the brother-in-law of King Glory-banner gave his daughter
with great pomp to a Brahman, the son of the counsellor Ocean-of-Wisdom.
And the princess Moonlight was invited to her cousin's wedding and went to
her uncle's house. And Master-mind went with her in his girl form.
When the counsellor's son saw Master-mind in his lovely girl form, he
was terribly smitten with the arrows of love. His heart was stolen by the
sham girl, and he went home feeling lonely even with his wife. It made him
crazy to think of that lovely face. When his father tried to soothe him,
he woke from his madness and stammered out his insane desire. And his
father was terribly distressed, knowing that all this depended on another.
Then the king learned the story and came there. When the king saw his
condition and perceived that he was seven parts gone in love, he said:
"How can I give him the girl who was intrusted to me by the Brahman? Yet
without her he will be ten parts gone in love, and will die. And if he
dies, then his father, the counsellor, will die too. And if the counsellor
perishes, my kingdom will perish. What shall I do?"
He consulted his counsellors, and they said: "Your Majesty, the first
duty of a king is the preservation of the virtue of his people. This is
the fundamental principle, and is established as such among counsellors.
If the counsellor is lost, the fundamental principle is lost; how then can
virtue be preserved? So in this case it would be sinful to destroy the
counsellor through his son. You must by all means avoid the loss of virtue
which would ensue. Give the Brahman's girl to the counsellor's son. And
when the Brahman returns, further measures will suggest themselves."
To this the king agreed, and promised to give the sham girl to the
counsellor's son. So Master-mind in his girl form was brought from the
chamber of the princess, and he said to the king: "Your Majesty, I was
brought here by somebody for a given purpose. If you give me to somebody
else, well and good. You are the king. Right and wrong depend on you. I
will marry him to-day, but only on one condition. My husband shall go away
immediately after the marriage and not return until he has been on a
pilgrimage for six months. Otherwise I shall bite out my tongue."
So the counsellor's son was summoned, and he joyfully assented. He made
the man his wife at once, put the sham wife in a guarded room and started
on a pilgrimage. So Master-mind lived there in his woman form.
When he realized that the counsellor's son would soon return,
Master-mind fled by night. And Root heard the story, and again assumed the
form of an old Brahman. He took his friend Moon, went to Glory-banner, and
said respectfully: "Your Majesty, I have brought my son. Pray give me my
The king was afraid of a curse, so he said: "Brahman, I do not know
where your daughter-in-law has gone. Be merciful. To atone for my
carelessness, I will give your son my own daughter."
The prince of rogues in the form of an old Brahman angrily refused. But
the king finally persuaded him, and with all due form married his daughter
Moonlight to Moon, who pretended to be the old Brahman's son. Then Root
went home with the bride and bridegroom.
But then Master-mind came, and in the presence of Root, a great dispute
arose between him and Moon.
Master-mind said: "Moonlight should be given to me. I married the girl
first with my teacher's permission."
Moon said: "Fool! What rights have you in my wife? Her father gave her
to me in regular marriage."
So they disputed about the princess whom one had won by fraud and the
other by force. But they could reach no decision.
O King, tell me. Whose wife is she? Resolve my doubts, and remember the
agreement about your head.
Then the king said: "I think she is the rightful wife of Moon. For she
was married to him in the regular way by her father in the presence of her
relatives. Master-mind married her secretly, like a thief. And when a
thief takes things from other people, it is never right."
When the goblin heard this, he went back home as before. And the king
stuck to his purpose. He went back again, put the goblin on his shoulder,
and started from the sissoo tree.
The Fairy Prince Cloud-chariot and the Serpent Shell-crest. Which is
the more self-sacrificing?
So the king walked along with the goblin. And the goblin said: "O king,
listen to a story the like of which was never heard."
There is a mountain called Himalaya where all gems are found. It is the
king of mountains. Its proud loftiness is everywhere the theme of song.
The sun himself has not seen its top.
On its summit is a city called Golden City, brilliant like a heap of
sunbeams left in trust by the sun. There lived a glorious fairy-king named
Cloud-banner. In the garden of his palace was a wishing-tree which had
come down to him from his ancestors.
King Cloud-banner had worshipped the tree which was really a god, and
by its grace had obtained a son named Cloud-chariot. This son remembered
his former lives. He was destined to be a Buddha in a future life. He was
generous, noble, merciful to all creatures, and obedient to his parents.
When he grew up, the king anointed him crown prince, persuaded thereto
by his counsellors as well as by the remarkable virtues of the youth.
While Cloud-chariot was crown prince, his father's counsellors came to him
one day and kindly said: "Crown prince, you must always honour this
wishing-tree in your garden; for it yields all desires, and cannot be
taken away by anybody. As long as it is favourably disposed to us, the
king of the gods could not conquer us, and of course nobody else could."
Then Cloud-chariot thought: "Alas! The men of old had this heavenly
tree, yet they did not pluck from it any worthy fruit. They were
mean-spirited. They simply begged it for some kind of wealth. And so they
degraded themselves and the great tree too. But I will get from it the
wish which is in my heart."
With this thought the noble creature went to his father. He showed such
complete deference as to delight his father, then when his father was
comfortably seated, he whispered: "Father, you know yourself that in this
sea of life all possessions, including our own bodies, are uncertain as a
rippling wave. Especially is money fleeting, uncertain, fickle as the
twilight lightning. The only thing in life which does not perish is
service. This gives birth to virtue and glory, twin witnesses through all
the ages to come. Father! Why do we keep such a wishing-tree for the sake
of transient blessings? Our ancestors clung to it, saying: It is mine, it
is mine.' And where are they now? What is it to them, or they to it? Then,
if you bid me, I will beg this generous wishing-tree for the one fruit
that counts, the fruit of service to others."
His father graciously assented, and Cloud-chariot went to the
wishing-tree, and said: "O god, you have fulfilled the wishes of our
fathers. Fulfil now my one single wish. Remove poverty from the world. A
blessing be with you. Go. I give you to the needy world." And as
Cloud-chariot bowed reverently, there came a voice from the tree: "I go,
since you give me up." And the wishing-tree immediately flew from heaven
and rained so much money on the earth that nobody was poor. And
Cloud-chariot's reputation for universal benevolence was spread about.
But all the relatives were jealous and envious. They thought that they
could easily conquer Cloud-chariot and his father without the
wishing-tree, and they prepared to fight to take away his kingdom. But
Cloud-chariot said to his father: "Father, how can you take your weapons
and fight? What high-minded man would want a kingdom after killing his
relatives just for the sake of this wretched, perishable body? Let us
abandon the kingdom, and go away somewhere to devote ourselves entirely to
virtue. Then we shall be blessed in both worlds. And let these wretched
relatives enjoy the kingdom which they hanker after."
And Cloud-banner said: "My son, I only want the kingdom for you, and if
you give it up from benevolent motives, what good is it to me? I am an old
So Cloud-chariot left the kingdom and went with his father and mother
to the Malabar hills. There he built a hermit's retreat, and waited on his
One day, as he wandered about, he met Friend-wealth, the son of
All-wealth, who lived there as king of the Siddhas. And Cloud-chariot
spoke to him and made friends with him.
Then one day Cloud-chariot saw a shrine to the goddess Gauri in the
grove, and entered there. And he saw a slender, lovely maiden surrounded
by her girl friends and playing on a lute, in honour of Gauri. The deer
listened to her music and her song, motionless as if ashamed because her
eyes were lovelier than their own. When Cloud-chariot saw the slender
maiden, his heart was ravished.
And he seemed to her to make the garden beautiful like the spring-time.
A strange longing came over her. She became so helpless that her friends
Then Cloud-chariot asked one of her friends: "My good girl, what is
your friend's sweet name? What family does she adorn?"
And the friend said: "This is Sandal, sister of Friend-wealth, and
daughter of the king of the Siddhas." Then she earnestly asked for the
name and family of Cloud-Chariot from a hermit's son who had come with
him. And then she spoke to Sandal with words punctuated by smiles: "My
dear, why do you not show hospitality to the fairy prince? He is a guest
whom all the world would be glad to honour."
But the bashful princess remained silent with downcast eyes. Then the
friend said: "She is bashful. Accept a hospitable greeting from me." And
she gave him a garland.
Cloud-chariot, far gone in love, took the garland and put it around
Sandal's neck. And the loving, sidelong glance which she gave him seemed
like another garland of blue lotuses. So they pledged themselves without
speaking a word.
Then a serving-maid came and said to the princess: "Princess, your
mother remembers you. Come at once." And she went slowly, after drawing
from her lover's face a passionate glance, for which Love's arrow had
wedged a path. And Cloud-chariot went to the hermitage, thinking of her;
while she, sick with the separation from the lord of her life, saw her
mother, then tottered to her bed and fell upon it. Her eyes were blinded
as if by smoke from the fire of love within her, her limbs tossed in
fever, she shed tears. And though her friends anointed her with sandal and
fanned her with lotus-leaves, she found no rest on her bed or in the lap
of a friend or on the ground.
Then when the day fled away with the passionate red twilight, and the
moon drew near to kiss the face of the laughing East, she despaired of
life, and her modesty would not let her send a message in spite of all her
love. But somehow she lived through the night. And Cloud-chariot too was
in anguish at the separation. Even in his bed he was fallen into the hand
of Love. Though his passion was so recent, he had already grown pale.
Though shame kept him silent, his looks told of the pangs of love. And so
he passed the night.
In the morning he arose and went to the shrine of Gauri. And his
friend, the hermit's son, followed him and tried to comfort him. At that
moment the lovelorn Sandal came out of her house alone, for she could not
endure the separation, and crept to that lonely spot to end her life
She did not see her lover behind a tree, and with eyes brimming with
tears she prayed to the goddess Gauri: "O goddess, since I could not in
this life have Cloud-chariot as my husband, grant that in another life at
last he may be my husband."
Then she tied her garment to the limb of an ashoka tree before the
goddess and cried: "Alas, my lord! Alas, Cloud-chariot! They say your
benevolence is universal. Why did you not save me?"
But as she fastened the garment about her neck, a voice from the sky
was heard in the air: "My daughter, do nothing rash. Cloud-chariot, the
future king of the fairies, shall be your husband."
And Cloud-chariot heard the heavenly voice, and with his friend
approached his rejoicing sweetheart. The friend said to the girl: "Here is
the gift which the goddess grants you." And Cloud-chariot spoke more than
one tender word and loosed the garment from her neck with his own hand.
Then a girl friend who had been gathering flowers there and had seen
what was happening, came up joyfully and said, while Sandal's modest eyes
seemed to be tracing a figure on the ground: "My dear, I congratulate you.
Your wish is granted. This very day Prince Friend-wealth said in my
presence to King All-wealth, your father: Father, the fairy prince , who
deserves honour from all the world, who gave away the wishing-tree, is
here, and we should treat him as an honoured guest. We could not find
another bridegroom like him. So let us welcome him with the gift of Sandal
who is a pearl of a girl.' And the king agreed, and your brother
Friend-wealth has this moment gone to the hermitage of the noble prince. I
think your marriage will soon take place. So go to your chamber, and let
the noble prince go to his hermitage."
So she went slowly and happily and lovingly. And Cloud-chariot hastened
to the hermitage. There he greeted Friend-wealth and heard his message,
and told him about his own birth and former life. Then Friend-wealth was
delighted and told Cloud-chariot's parents who were also delighted. Then
he went home and made his own parents happy with the news.
That very day he invited Cloud-chariot to his home. And they made a
great feast as was proper, and married the fairy prince and Sandal on the
spot. Then Cloud-chariot was completely happy and spent some time there
with his bride Sandal.
One day he took a walk for pleasure about the hills with Friend-wealth,
and came to the seashore. There he saw great heaps of bones, and he asked
Friend-wealth: "What creatures did these heaps of bones belong to?" His
brother-in-law Friend-wealth said to the merciful prince: "Listen, my
friend. I will tell you the story briefly."
Long ago Kadru, the mother of the serpents, made a wager with her rival
Vinata, the mother of the great bird Garuda. She won the wager and
enslaved her rival. Now Garuda's anger continued even after he had freed
his mother from slavery. He kept going into the underworld where Kadru's
offspring, the serpents, live, to eat them. Some he killed, others he
Then Vasuki, king of the serpents, feared that in time all would be
lost if the serpents were all to be slain thus. So he made an agreement
with Garuda. He said: "O king of birds, I will send one serpent every day
to the shore of the southern sea for you to eat. But you are never to
enter the underworld again. What advantage would it be to you if all the
serpents were slain at once?" And Garuda agreed, with an eye to his own
Since that time Garuda every day eats the snake sent by Vasuki here on
the seashore. And these heaps of bones from the serpents that have been
eaten, have in time formed a regular mountain.
When Cloud-chariot heard this story from the lips of Friend-wealth, he
was deeply grieved and said: "My friend, wretched indeed is that king
Vasuki who deliberately sacrifices his own subjects to their enemy. He is
a coward. He has a thousand heads, yet could not find a single mouth to
say: O Garuda, eat me first.' How could he be so mean as to beg Garuda to
destroy his own race? Or how can Garuda, the heavenly bird, do such a
crime? Oh, insolent madness!"
So the noble Cloud-chariot made up his mind that he would use his poor
body that day to save the life of one serpent at least. At that moment a
door-keeper, sent by Friend-wealth's father, came to summon them home. And
Cloud-Chariot said: "Do you go first. I will follow." So he dismissed
Friend-wealth, and remained there himself.
As he walked about waiting for the thing he hoped for, he heard a
pitiful sound of weeping at a distance. He went a little way and saw near
a lofty rock a sorrowful, handsome youth. He was at that moment abandoned
by a creature that seemed to be a policeman, and was gently persuading his
old, weeping mother to return. And Cloud-chariot wished to know who it
might be. So he hid himself and listened, his heart melting with pity.
The old mother was bowed down by anguish, and started to lament over
the youth. "Oh, Shell-crest! Oh, my virtuous son, whom I fondled, not
counting the labour and the pain! Oh, my son, my only son! Where shall I
see you again? Oh, my darling! When your bright face is gone, your old
father will fall into black despair. How can he live then? Your tender
form is hurt by the rays of the sun. How can it bear the pangs of being
eaten by Garuda? Oh, my unhappy fate! Why did the Creator and the
serpent-king choose my only son from the broad serpent-world, and seize
And as she lamented, the youth, her son, said: "Mother, I am unhappy
enough. Why torture me yet more? Return home. For the last time I bow
before you. It is time for Garuda to come."
And the mother cried: "Alas, alas for me! Who will save my son?" And
she gazed about wildly and wept aloud.
All this Cloud-chariot, the future Buddha, saw and heard. And with deep
pity he thought: "Alas! This is a serpent named Shell-crest, sent here by
Vasuki for Garuda to eat. And this is his mother, following him out of her
great love. He is her only son, and she is mourning in pain and bitter
anguish. I should forever curse my useless life if I did not save one in
such agony at the cost of a body which must perish anyway some day."
So Cloud-chariot joyfully approached and said to the old mother:
"Serpent-mother, I will save your son. Do not weep."
But the old mother thought that this was Garuda, and she screamed: "O
Garuda, eat me! Eat me!"
Then Shell-crest said: "Mother, this is not Garuda. Do not be alarmed.
What a difference between one who soothes our feelings like the moon, and
the fearful Garuda."
And Cloud-chariot said: "Mother, I am a fairy, come to save your son. I
will put on his garment and offer my own body to the hungry bird. Do you
take your son and go home."
But the old mother said: "No, no. You are more than a son to me. To
think that such as you should feel pity for such as we!"
And Cloud-chariot answered: "Mother, I beg you not to disappoint me."
But when he insisted, Shell-crest said: "Noble being, you have certainly
shown compassion, but I do not wish to save my body at the expense of
yours. Who would save a common stone at the cost of a pearl? The world is
full of creatures like me, who are merciful only to themselves. But
creatures like you, who are merciful to all the world, are very rare. Oh,
pious being, I could not stain the pure family of Shell-guard, as the dark
spot stains the disk on the moon."
Then Shell-crest said to his mother: "Mother, return from this desolate
place. Do you not see the rock of sacrifice wet with the blood of
serpents, the terrible plaything of Death? I will go for a moment to the
shore and worship the god Shiva there. And I will return quickly before
So Shell-crest took leave of his mother and went to worship Shiva. And
Cloud-chariot thought: "If Garuda should come in this interval, I should
Then he saw the trees stiffening themselves against the wind made by
the sweeping wings of the king of birds. "Garuda is coming," he thought,
and climbed the rock of sacrifice, eager to give his life for another.
And Garuda straightway pounced upon the noble creature and lifted him
from the rock in his beak. While Cloud-chariot's blood flowed in streams
and the gem fell from his forehead, Garuda carried him off and began to
eat him on the summit of the Malabar hills. And while he was being eaten,
Cloud-chariot thought: "In every future life of mine may my body do some
good to somebody. I would not attain heaven and salvation without doing
some good first." Then a shower of flowers fell from heaven on the fairy
At that moment the blood-stained gem from his forehead fell in front of
his wife Sandal. She was in anguish at the sight, and as her
parents-in-law were near, she tearfully showed it to them. And they were
alarmed at the sight of their son's gem and wondered what it meant. Then
King Cloud-banner discovered the truth by his magic arts, and he and his
queen started to run with Cloud-chariot's wife Sandal.
At that moment Shell-crest returned from his worship of Shiva. He saw
the rock stained with blood, and cried: "Alas for me, poor sinner! Surely
that noble, merciful creature has given his body to Garuda in place of
mine. I must find him. Where has the great being been carried by my enemy?
If I find him alive, then I shall not sink into the slough of infamy." So
he followed weeping the broad trail of blood.
Now Garuda noticed that Cloud-chariot was happy while being eaten, and
he thought: "This must be some strange, great being, for he is happy while
I am eating him. He does not die, and what remains of him is thrilled with
delight. And he turns a gracious, benevolent look upon me. Surely, he is
no serpent, but some great spirit. I will stop eating him and ask him."
But while he reflected, Cloud-chariot said: "O king of birds, why do
you stop? There is still some flesh and blood on me, and I see that you
are not satisfied. Pray continue to eat."
When the king of birds heard these remarkable words, he said: "You are
no serpent. Tell me who you are."
But Cloud-chariot continued to urge him: "Certainly I am a serpent.
What does the question mean? Continue your meal. What fool would begin a
thing and then stop?"
At that moment Shell-crest shouted from afar: "O Garuda, do not commit
a great and reckless crime. What madness is this? He is not a serpent. I
am the serpent."
And he ran between them and spoke again to the agitated bird: "O Garuda,
what madness is this? Do you not see that I have the hood and the forked
tongue? Do you not see how gentle his appearance is?"
While he was speaking, Cloud-chariot's wife Sandal and his parents
hurried up. And when his parents saw how he was lacerated, they wept aloud
and lamented: "Alas, my son! Alas, Cloud-chariot! Alas for my merciful
darling, who gave his life for others!"
But when they cried: "Alas, Garuda! How could you do this thoughtless
thing?" then Garuda was filled with remorse and thought: "Alas! How could
I be mad enough to eat a future Buddha? This must be Cloud-chariot, who
gives his life for others, whose fame is trumpeted abroad through all the
world. If he is dead, I am a sinner, and ought to burn myself alive. Why
does the fruit of the poison-tree of sin taste sweet?"
While Garuda was thus deep in anxious thought, Cloud-chariot saw his
relatives gathered, fell down, and died from the pain of his wounds. Then,
while his grief-stricken parents were loudly lamenting, while Shell-crest
was accusing himself, Sandal looked up to heaven and, in a voice
stammering with tears, reproached the goddess Gauri who had graciously
given her this husband: "Oh, Mother! You told me that the fairy prince
should be my husband, but it is my fate that you spoke falsely."
Then Gauri appeared in a visible form, and said: "Daughter, my words
are not false." And she sprinkled Cloud-chariot with nectar from a jar.
And straightway he stood up alive, unhurt and more beautiful than before.
As they all bent low in worship, and Cloud-chariot rose only to bend
again, the goddess said: "My son, I am pleased with your gift of your own
body. With my own hand I anoint you king of the fairies." And she anointed
Cloud-chariot with liquor from the jar, and then disappeared, followed by
the worship of the company. And showers of heavenly blossoms fell from the
sky, and the drums of the gods were joyfully beaten in heaven.
Then Garuda reverently said to Cloud-chariot: "O King, I am pleased
with your more than human character. For you have done a strange thing of
unparalleled nobility, to be marvelled at throughout the universe, to be
written upon the walls of heaven. Therefore I am at your service. Choose
from me what boon you will."
The noble creature said to Garuda: "O Garuda, you must repent and eat
no more serpents. And you must restore to life those that you ate before,
who now are nothing but bones."
And Garuda said: "So be it. I will eat no serpents hereafter. And those
that I have eaten shall come to life."
Then all the serpents who had been eaten down to the bones, suddenly
stood up. And through the grace of Gauri all the leading fairies learned
immediately the wonderful deed of Cloud-chariot. So they all came and
bowed at his feet and took him, freshly anointed by the very hand of
Gauri, with his rejoicing relatives and friends to the Himalaya mountain.
There Cloud-chariot lived happily with his father and his mother and his
wife Sandal and Friend-wealth and the generous Shell-crest. And he ruled
the fairy world radiant with gems.
When the goblin had told this long, strange story, he said to the king:
"O King, tell me. Which was the more self-sacrificing, Cloud-chariot or
Shell-crest? If you know and do not tell, then the curse I mentioned
before will be fulfilled."
And the king said: "There was nothing remarkable in what Cloud-chariot
did. He was prepared for it by the experiences of many past lives. But
Shell-crest deserves praise. He was saved from death. His enemy had
another victim, and was far away. Yet he ran after and offered his body to
When the goblin heard this, he went back to the sissoo tree. And the
king returned to catch him again.
The King who died for Love of his General's Wife; the General follows
him in Death. Which is the more worthy?
Then the king went back under the sissoo tree, put the goblin on his
shoulder as before, and started. And the goblin said to him: "O King, I
will tell you another little story to relieve your weariness. Listen."
Long ago there was a city named Golden City on the bank of the Ganges,
where a quarter of the old perfect virtue still lingers in these evil
days. There was a king named Glorious, and he deserved the name. His
bravery kept the world from being overflowed, like the shore of the sea.
In this king's city lived a great merchant, who had a daughter named
Passion. Everyone who saw her fell in love and went mad with passion.
When she grew to be a young woman, the virtuous merchant went to King
Glorious and said: "Your Majesty, I have a daughter, the gem of the three
worlds, and she is old enough to marry. I could not give her to anyone
without consulting your Majesty. For you are the master of all gems in the
world. Pray marry her and thus lay me under obligations."
So the king sent his own Brahmans to examine her qualities. But when
the Brahmans saw her supreme loveliness, they were troubled and thought:
"If the king should marry her, his kingdom would be ruined. He would think
only of her, and would doubtless neglect his kingdom. Therefore we must
not report her good qualities to the king."
So they returned to the king and said: "Your Majesty, she has bad
qualities." So the king did not marry the merchant's daughter. But he bade
the merchant give his daughter to a general named Force. And she lived
happily with her husband in his house.
After a time the lion of spring came dancing through the forest and
slew the elephant of winter. And King Glorious went forth on the back of
an elephant to see the spring festival. And the drum was beaten to warn
virtuous women to stay within doors. Otherwise they would have fallen in
love with his beauty, and love-sickness might be expected.
But when Passion heard the drum, she did not like to be left alone. She
went out on the balcony, that the king might see her. She seemed like the
flame of love which the spring-time was fanning with southern breezes. And
the king saw her, and his whole being was shaken. He felt her beauty
sinking deep in his heart like a victorious arrow of Love, and he fainted.
His servants brought him back to consciousness, and he returned to the
city. There he made inquiries and learned that this was Passion whom he
had rejected before. So he banished from the country the Brahmans who had
said that she had bad qualities, and he thought longingly of her every
And as he thought of her, he burned over the flame of love, and wasted
away day and night. And though from shame he tried to conceal it, he
finally told the reason of his anguish to responsible people who asked
They said: "Do not suffer. Why do you not seize her?" But the virtuous
king would not do it.
Then General Force heard the story. He came and bowed at the feet of
the king and said: "Your Majesty, she is the wife of your slave, therefore
she is your slave. I give her to you of my own accord. Pray take my wife.
Or better yet, I will leave her here in the palace. Then you cannot be
blamed if you marry her." And the general begged and insisted.
But the king became angry and said: "I am a king. How can I do such a
wicked thing? If I should transgress, who would be virtuous? You are
devoted to me. Why do you urge me to a sin which is pleasant for the
moment, but causes great sorrow in the next world? If you abandon your
wedded wife, I shall not pardon you. How could a man in my position
overlook such a transgression? It is better to die." Thus the king argued
against it. For the truly great throw away life rather than virtue. And
when all the citizens came together and urged him, he was steadfast and
So he slowly shrivelled away over the fever-flame of love and died.
There was nothing left of King Glorious except his glory. And the general
could not endure the death of his king. He burned himself alive. The
actions of devoted men are blameless.
When the goblin on the king's shoulder had told this story, he asked
the king: "O King, which of these two, the king and the general, was the
more deserving? Remember the curse before you answer."
The king said: "I think the king was the more deserving."
And the goblin said reproachfully: "O King, why was not the general
better? He offered the king a wife like that, whose charms he knew from a
long married life. And when his king died, he burned himself like a
faithful man. But the king gave her up without really knowing her
Then the king laughed and said: "True enough, but not surprising. The
general was a gentleman born, and acted as he did from devotion to his
superior. For servants must protect their masters even at the cost of
their own lives. But kings are like mad elephants who cannot be goaded
into obedience, who break the binding-chain of virtue. They are insolent,
and their judgment trickles from them with the holy water of consecration.
Their eyes are blinded by the hurricane of power, and they do not see the
road. From the most ancient times, even the kings who conquered the world
have been maddened by love and have fallen into misfortune. But this king,
though he ruled the whole world, though he was maddened by the girl
Passion, preferred to die rather than set his foot on the path of
iniquity. He was a hero. He was the better of the two."
Then the goblin escaped by magic from the king's shoulder and went
back. And the king pursued him, undiscouraged. No great man stops in the
middle of the hardest undertaking.
The Youth who went through the Proper Ceremonies. Why did he fail to
win the magic spell?
Then the king went back through the night to the cemetery filled with
ghouls, terrible with funeral piles that seemed like ghosts with wagging
tongues of flame. But when he came to the sissoo tree, he was surprised to
see a great many bodies hanging on the tree. They were all alike, and in
each was a goblin twitching its limbs.
And the king thought: "Ah, what does this mean? Why does that magic
goblin keep wasting my time? For I do not know which of all these I ought
to take. If I should not succeed in this night's endeavour, then I would
burn myself alive rather than become a laughing-stock."
But the goblin understood the king's purpose, and was pleased with his
character. So he gave up his magic arts. Then the king saw only one goblin
in one body. He took him down as before, put him on his shoulder, and
started once more.
And as he walked along, the goblin said: "O King, if you have no
objections, I will tell you a story. Listen."
There is a city called Ujjain, whose people delight in noble happiness,
and feel no longing for heaven. In that city there is real darkness at
night, real intelligence in poetry, real madness in elephants, real
coolness in pearls, sandal, and moonlight.
There lived a king named Moonshine. He had as counsellor a famous
Brahman named Heaven-lord, rich in money, rich in piety, rich in learning.
And the counsellor had a son named Moon-lord.
This son went one day to a great resort of gamblers to play. There the
dice, beautiful as the eyes of gazelles, were being thrown constantly. And
Calamity seemed to be looking on, thinking: "Whom shall I embrace?" And
the loud shouts of angry gamblers seemed to suggest the question: "Who is
there that would not be fleeced here, were he the god of wealth himself?"
This hall the youth entered, and played with dice. He staked his
clothes and everything else, and the gamblers won it all. Then he wagered
money he did not have, and lost that. And when they asked him to pay, he
could not. So the gambling-master caught him and beat him with clubs.
When he was bruised all over by the clubs, the Brahman youth became
motionless like a stone, and pretended to be dead, and waited. After he
had lain thus for two or three days, the heartless gambling-master said to
the gamblers: "He lies like a stone. Take him somewhere and throw him into
a blind well. I will pay you the money he owes."
So the gamblers picked Moon-lord up and went far into the forest,
looking for a well. Then one old gambler said to the others: "He is as
good as dead. What is the use of throwing him into a well now? We will
leave him here and go back and say we have left him in a well." And all
the rest agreed, and left him there, and went back.
When they were gone, Moon-lord rose and entered a deserted temple to
Shiva. When he had rested a little there, he thought in great anguish:
"Ah, I trusted the rascally gamblers, and they cheated me. Where shall I
go now, naked and dusty as I am? What would my father say if he saw me
now, or any relative, or any friend? I will stay here for the present, and
at night I will go out and try to find food somehow to appease my hunger."
While he reflected in weariness and nakedness, the sun grew less hot
and disappeared. Then a terrible hermit named Stake came there, and he had
smeared his body with ashes. When he had seen Moon-lord and asked who he
was and heard his story, he said, as the youth bent low before him: "Sir,
you have come to my hermitage, a guest fainting with hunger. Rise, bathe,
and partake of the meal I have gained by begging."
Then Moon-lord said to him: "Holy sir, I am a Brahman. How can I
partake of such a meal?"
Then the hermit-magician went into his hut and out of tenderness to his
guest he thought of a magic spell which grants all desires. And the spell
appeared in bodily form, and said: "What shall I do?" And the hermit said:
"Treat that man as an honoured guest."
Then Moon-lord was astonished to see a golden palace rise before him
and a grove with women in it. They came to him from the palace and said:
"Sir, rise, come, bathe, eat, and meet our mistress." So they led him in
and gave him a chance to bathe and anoint himself and dress. Then they led
him to another room.
There the youth saw a woman of wonderful beauty, whom the Creator must
have made to see what he could do. She rose and offered him half of her
seat. And he ate heavenly food and various fruits and chewed betel leaves
and sat happily with her on the couch.
In the morning he awoke and saw the temple to Shiva, but the heavenly
creature was gone, and the palace, and the women in it. So he went out in
distress, and the hermit in his hut smiled and asked him how he had spent
the night. And he said: "Holy sir, through your kindness I spent a happy
night, but I shall die without that heavenly creature."
Then the hermit laughed and said: "Stay here. You shall have the same
happiness again to-night." So Moon-lord enjoyed those delights every night
through the favour of the hermit.
Finally Moon-lord came to see what a mighty spell that was. So, driven
on by his fate, he respectfully begged the hermit: "Holy sir, if you
really feel pity for a poor suppliant like me, teach me that spell which
has such power."
And when he insisted, the hermit said: "You could never win the spell.
One has to stand in the water to win it. And it weaves a net of magic to
bewilder the man who is repeating the words, so that he cannot win it. For
as he mumbles it, he seems to lead another life, first a baby, then a boy,
then a youth, then a husband, then a father. And he falsely imagines that
such and such people are his friends, such and such his enemies. He
forgets his real life and his desire to win the spell. But if a man
mumbles it constantly for twenty-four years, and remembers his own life,
and is not deceived by the network of magic, and then at the end burns
himself alive, he comes out of the water, and has real magic power. It
comes only to a good pupil, and if a teacher tries to teach it to a bad
pupil, the teacher loses it too. Now you have the real benefit through my
magic power. Why insist on more? If I lost my powers, then your happiness
would go too."
But Moon-lord said: "I can do anything. Do not fear, holy sir." And the
hermit promised to teach him the spell. What will holy men not do out of
regard to those who seek aid?
So the hermit went to the river bank, and said: "My son, mumble the
words of the spell. And while you are leading an imaginary life, you will
at last be awakened by my magic. Then plunge into the magic fire which you
will see. I will stand here on the bank while you mumble it."
So he purified himself and purified Moon-lord and made him sip water,
and then he taught him the magic spell. And Moon-lord bowed to his teacher
on the bank, and plunged into the river.
And as he mumbled the words of the spell in the water, he was
bewildered by its magic. He forgot all about his past life, and went
through another life. He was born in another city as the son of a Brahman.
Then he grew up, was consecrated, and went to school. Then he took a wife,
and after many experiences half pleasant, half painful, he found himself
the father of a family. Then he lived for some years with his parents and
his relatives, devoted to wife and children, and interested in many
While he was experiencing all these labours of another life, the hermit
took pity on him and repeated magic words to enlighten him. And Moon-lord
was enlightened in the midst of his new life. He remembered himself and
his teacher, and saw that the other life was a network of magic. So he
prepared to enter the fire in order to win magic power.
But older people and reliable people and his parents and his relatives
tried to prevent him. In spite of them he hankered after heavenly
pleasures, and went to the bank of a river where a funeral pile had been
made ready. And his relatives went with him. But when he got there he saw
that his old parents and his wife and his little children were weeping.
And he was perplexed, and thought: "Alas! If I enter the fire, all
these my own people will die. And I do not know whether my teacher's
promise will come true or not. Shall I go into the fire, or go home? No,
no. How could a teacher with such powers promise falsely? Indeed, I must
enter the fire." And he did.
And he was astonished the feel the fire as cool as snow, and lost his
fear of it. Then he came out of the water of the river, and found himself
on the bank. He saw his teacher standing there, and fell at his feet, and
told him the whole story, ending with the blazing funeral pile.
Then his teacher said: "My son, I think you must have made some
mistake. Otherwise, why did the fire seem cool to you? That never happens
in the winning of this magic spell."
And Moon-lord said: "Holy sir, I do not remember making any mistake."
Then his teacher was eager to know about it, so he tried to remember the
spell himself. But it would not come to him or to his pupil. So they went
away sad, having lost their magic.
When the goblin had told this story, he asked the king: "O King,
explain the matter to me. Why did they lose their magic, when everything
had been done according to precept?"
Then the king said: "O magic creature, I see that you are only trying
to waste my time. Still, I will tell you. Magic powers do not come to a
man because he does things that are hard, but because he does things with
a pure heart. The Brahman youth was defective at that point. He hesitated
even when his mind was enlightened. Therefore he failed to win the magic.
And the teacher lost his magic because he taught it to an unworthy pupil."
Then the goblin went back to his home. And the king ran to find him,
The Boy whom his Parents, the King, and the Giant conspired to Kill.
Why did he laugh at the moment of death?
Then the king went to the sissoo tree, put the goblin on his shoulder
as before, and started in silence. And the goblin on his shoulder saw that
he was silent and said: "O King, why are you so obstinate? Go home. Spend
the night in rest. You ought not to take me to that rascally monk. But if
you insist, then I will tell you another story. Listen."
There is a city called Brilliant-peak. There lived a glorious king
named Moon, who delighted the eyes of his subjects. Wise men said that he
was brave, generous, and the very home of beauty. But in spite of all his
wealth, he was very sad at heart. For he found no wife worthy of him.
One day this king went with soldiers on horseback into a great wood, to
hunt there and forget his sorrow. There he split open many boars with his
arrows as the sun splits the black darkness, and made fierce lions into
cushions for his arrows, and slew mountainous monsters with his terrible
As he hunted, he spurred his horse and beat him terribly. And the horse
was so hurt by the spur and the whip that he could not tell rough from
smooth. He dashed off quicker than the wind, and in a moment carried the
king into another forest a hundred miles away.
There the king lost his way, and as he wandered about wearily, he saw a
great lake. He stopped there, unsaddled his horse, let him bathe and
drink, and found him some grass in the shade of the trees. Then he bathed
and drank himself, and when he had rested, he looked all about him.
And he saw a hermit's daughter of marvellous beauty under an ashoka
tree with another girl. She had no ornaments but flowers. She was charming
even in a dress of bark. She was particularly attractive because of her
thick masses of hair arranged in a girlish way.
And the king fell in love with her and thought: "Who is she? Is she a
goddess come to bathe in these waters? Or Gauri, separated from her
husband Shiva, leading a hard life to win him again? Or the lovely moon,
taking a human form, and trying to be attractive in the daytime? I will go
to her and find out."
So he drew near to her. And when she saw him coming, she was astonished
at his beauty and dropped her hands, which had been weaving a garland of
flowers. And she thought: "Who can he be in this forest? Some fairy
perhaps. Blessed are my eyes this day."
So she rose, modestly looking another way, and started to go away,
though her limbs failed her. Then the king approached and said: "Beautiful
maiden, I have come a long distance, and you never saw me before. I ask
only to look at you, and you should welcome me. Is this hermit manners, to
Then her clever friend made the king sit down and treated him as an
honoured guest. And the king respectfully asked her: "My good girl, what
happy family does your friend adorn? What are the syllables of her name,
which must be a delight to the ear? Or why at her age does she torture a
body as delicate as a flower with a hermit's life in a lonely wood?"
And the friend answered: "Your Majesty, she is the daughter of the
hermit Kanva and the heavenly nymph Menaka. She grew up here in the
hermitage, and her name is Lotus-bloom. With her father's permission she
came here to the lake to bathe. And her father's hermitage is not far from
Then the king was delighted. He mounted his horse and rode to the
hermitage of holy Kanva, to ask for the girl. And he entered the hermitage
in modest garb, leaving his horse outside. Then he was surrounded by
hermits with hoary crowns and bark garments like the trees, and saw the
sage Kanva radiant and cool like the moon. And he drew near and fell at
And the wise hermit greeted him and let him rest, then said: "My son
Moon, I will tell you something to your advantage. Listen. I know what
fear of death there is in mortal creatures. Why then do you uselessly kill
the wild beasts? Warriors were made by the Creator to protect the timid.
Therefore protect your subjects in righteousness, and root out evil. As
Happiness flees before you, strive to overtake her with all your means,
elephants and horses and things. Enjoy your kingship. Be generous. Become
glorious. Abandon this vice of hunting, this sport of Death. For slayer
and slain are equally deceived. Why spend your time in such an evil
The sensible king was pleased and said: "Holy sir, I am instructed. And
great is my gratitude for this instruction. From now on I hunt no more.
Let the wild animals live without fear."
Then the hermit said: "I am pleased with your protection of the
animals. Choose any boon you will."
Then the quick-witted king said: "Holy sir, if you are kindly disposed,
give me your daughter Lotus-bloom."
So the hermit gave him his daughter, the child of the nymph, who then
came up after her bath. So they were married, and the king wore cheerful
garments, and Lotus-bloom was adorned by the hermits' wives. And the
weeping hermits accompanied them in procession to the edge of the
hermitage. Then the king took his wife Lotus-bloom, mounted his horse, and
started for his city.
At last the sun, seeing the king tired with his long journeying, sank
wearily behind the western mountain. And fawn-eyed night appeared, clad in
the garment of darkness, like a woman going to meet her lover. And the
king saw an ashvattha tree on the shore of a pond in a spot covered with
grass and twigs, and he decided to spend the night there.
So he dismounted, fed and watered his horse, brought water from the
pond, and rested with his beloved. And they passed the night there.
In the morning he arose, performed his devotions, and prepared to set
out with his wife to rejoin his soldiers. Then, like a cloud black as soot
with tawny lightning-hair, there appeared a great giant. He wore a chaplet
of human entrails, a cord of human hair, he was chewing the head of a man,
and drinking blood from a skull.
The giant laughed aloud, spit fire in his wrath, and showed his
dreadful fangs. And he scolded the king and said: "Scoundrel! I am a giant
named Flame-face. This tree is my home; even the gods do not dare to
trespass here. But you and your wife have trespassed and enjoyed
yourselves. Now swallow your own impudence, you rascal! You are lovesick,
so I will split open your heart and eat it, and I will drink your blood."
The king was frightened when he saw that the giant was invincible, and
his wife was trembling, so he said respectfully: "I trespassed ignorantly.
Forgive me. I am your guest, seeking protection in your hermitage. And I
will give you a human sacrifice, so that you will be satisfied. Be
merciful then and forget your anger."
Then the giant forgot his anger, and thought: "Very well. Why not?" And
he said: "O King, I want a noble, intelligent Brahman boy seven years old,
who shall give himself up of his own accord for your sake. And when he is
killed, his mother must hold his hands tightly to the ground, and his
father must hold his feet, and you must cut off his head with your own
sword. If you do this within seven days, then I will forgive the insult
you have offered me. If not, I will kill you and all your people."
And the king was so frightened that he consented. Then the giant
Then King Moon mounted his horse with his wife Lotus-bloom and rode
away sad at heart, seeking for his soldiers. And he thought: "Alas! I was
bewildered by hunting and by love, and I find myself ruined. Where can I
find such a sacrifice for the giant? Well, I will go to my own city now,
and see what happens."
So he continued his search, and found his soldiers and his city
Brilliant-peak. There his subjects were delighted because he had found a
wife worthy of him, and they made a great feast. But it was a day of
despondency and dreadful agony for the king.
On the next day he told his counsellors the whole story. And one
counsellor named Wise said: "Your Majesty, do not despair. I will find a
victim for the sacrifice. The world is a strange place."
Thus the counsellor comforted the king, and made a statue of a boy out
of gold. And he sent the statue about the land, with constant beating of
drums and this proclamation: "We want a noble Brahman boy seven years old
who will offer himself as a sacrifice to a giant with the permission of
his parents. And when he is killed, his mother must hold his hands, and
his father must hold his feet. And as a reward, the king will give his
parents a hundred villages and this statue of gold and gems."
Now there was a Brahman boy on a farm, who was only seven years old,
but wonderfully brave. He was of great beauty, and even in childhood he
was always thinking about others. He said to the heralds: "Gentlemen, I
will give you my body. Wait a moment. I will hurry back after telling my
So they told the boy to go. And he went into the house, bowed before
his parents, and said: "Mother! Father! I am going to give this wretched
body of mine in order to win lasting happiness. Pray permit me. And I will
take the king's gift, this statue of myself made of gold and gems, and
give it to you together with the hundred villages. Thus I will pay my debt
to you, and do some real good. And you will never be poor again, and will
have plenty more sons."
But his parents immediately said: "Son, what are you saying? Have you
the rheumatism? Or are you possessed by a devil? If not, why do you talk
nonsense? Who would sacrifice his child for money? And what child would
give his body?"
But the boy said: "I am not mad. Listen. My words are full of sense.
The body is the seat of unnameable impurities, it is loathsome and full of
pain. It perishes in no long time at best. If some good can be done with
the worthless thing, that is a great advantage in this weary life, so wise
men say. And what good is there except helping others? If anyone can serve
his parents so easily, then how lightly should the body be esteemed!"
Thus the boy, with his bold words and his firm purpose, persuaded his
grieving parents. And he went and got from the king's men the golden
statue and the hundred villages, and gave them to his parents.
So the boy with his parents followed the king's men to the city
Brilliant-peak. And the king looked upon the brave boy as a magic jewel
for his own preservation, and rejoiced greatly. He adorned the boy with
garlands and perfumes, put him on an elephant, and took him with his
parents to the home of the giant.
There the priest traced a magic circle beside the tree, and reverently
lit the holy fire. Then the horrible giant Flame-face appeared, mumbling
words of his own. He staggered, for he was drunk with blood, and snorted
and yawned. His eyes flashed fire and his shadow made the whole world
And the king said respectfully: "Great being, here is the human
sacrifice you asked for, and this is the seventh day since I promised it.
Be merciful. Accept this sacrifice."
And the giant licked his chops, and looked the boy over, who was to be
the sacrifice. Then the noble boy thought: "I have done some good with
this body of mine. May I never rest in heaven or in eternal salvation, but
may I have many lives in which to do some good with my body." And the air
was filled with the chariots of gods who rained down flowers.
Then the boy was laid before the giant. His mother held his hands, and
his father held his feet. When the king drew his sword and was ready to
strike, the boy laughed so heartily that all of them, even the giant,
forgot what they were doing, looked at the boy's face, and bowed low
When the goblin had told this strange story, he asked the king: "O
King, why did the boy laugh at the moment of death? I have a great
curiosity about this point. If you know and will not tell, then your head
will fly into a hundred pieces."
And the king said: "Listen. I will tell you why the boy laughed. When
danger comes to any weak creature, he cries for life to his mother and
father. If they are not there, he begs protection from the king, whom
heaven made his protector. Failing the king, he cries to a god. Some one
of these should be his protector. But in the case of this boy everything
was contrary. His parents held his hands and feet because they wanted
money. And the king was ready to kill him with his own hand, to save his
own life. And the giant, who is a kind of a god, had come there especially
to eat him. So the boy thought: They are ridiculously fooled about their
bodies, which are fragile, worthless, the seat of pain and suffering. The
bodies of the greatest gods perish. And such creatures as these imagine
that their bodies will endure!' So when he saw their strange madness, and
felt that his own wishes were fulfilled, the Brahman boy laughed in
astonishment and delight."
Then the goblin slipped from the king's shoulder and went back to his
home. And the king followed with determination. The heart of a good man is
like the heart of the ocean. It cannot be shaken.
The Man, his Wife, and her Lover, who all died for Love. Which was the
Then the king went back under the sissoo tree, took the goblin on his
shoulder, and set out in haste. And as he walked along, the goblin on his
shoulder said: "O King, I will tell you a story about a great love.
There is a city called Ujjain, which seems like a divine city made by
the Creator for the pious who have fallen from heaven. In this city there
was a famous king named Lotus-belly. He delighted the good, and defeated
the king of the demons.
While he was king, a merchant named Fortune, richer than the god of
wealth, lived in the city. He had one daughter named Love-cluster, who
seemed the model from whom the Creator had made the nymphs of heaven. This
merchant gave his daughter to a merchant named Jewel-guard from Copper
As he was a tender father and had no other children, the merchant
stayed with his daughter Love-cluster and her husband. Now Love-cluster
came to hate Jewel-guard as a sick man hates a pungent, biting medicine.
But the beautiful woman was dearer than life to her husband, dear as
long-fathered wealth to a miser.
One day Jewel-guard started for Copper City to pay a loving visit to
his parents. Then the hot summer came, and the roads were blocked for
travellers by the sharp arrows of the sun. The winds blew soft with the
fragrance of jasmine and trumpet-flower, like sighs from the mouths of
mountains separated from the springtime. And wind-swept dust-clouds flew
to the sky like messengers from the burning earth begging for clouds. And
the feverish days moved slowly like wayfarers who cling to the shade of
trees. And the nights clad in pale yellow moonlight became very feeble
without the invigorating embrace of winter.
At this time Love-cluster, anointed with cooling sandal, and clad in
thin garments stood at her lattice-window. And she saw a handsome youth
with a friend whom he trusted. He seemed the god of love born anew and
seeking his bride. He was the son of the king's priest, and his name was
And when Lotus-lake saw the lovely girl, he expanded with delight as
lotuses in a lake expand at the sight of the moon. When the two young
people saw each other, their hearts embraced each other at the bidding of
Love, their teacher.
So Lotus-lake was smitten with love, and was led home with difficulty
by his friend. And Love-cluster was equally maddened by love. First she
learned from her friend his name and home, then slowly withdrew to her
room. There she thought of him and became feverish with love, simply
tossing on her couch, seeing nothing and hearing nothing.
After two or three days spent in this way, she felt bashful and
fearful, pale and thin from the separation, and hopeless of union with her
lover. So, as if drawn on by the moonbeam which shone through her window,
she went out at night when her people were asleep, determined to die. And
she came to a pool under a tree in her garden.
There stood a family image of the goddess Gauri, set up by her father.
She drew near to this image, bowed before the goddess, praised her, and
said: "O Goddess, since I could not have Lotus-lake as my husband in this
life, may he be my husband in some other life!" And she made a noose of
her garment, and tied it to the ashoka tree before the goddess.
At that moment her trusty friend awoke, and not finding her in the
room, hunted about and came luckily into the garden. There she saw the
girl fastening the noose about her neck, and she cried, "No, no!" And
running up, she cut the noose.
When Love-cluster saw that it was her own friend who had run up and
taken the noose away, she fell to the ground in great agony. But her
friend comforted her and asked the reason of her sorrow. Then she arose
and said: "Jasmine, my friend, I cannot be united with him I love. I am
dependent on my father and other people. Death is the happiest thing for
And as she spoke, she was terribly scorched by the fiery darts of love,
and determined to feel no more hope, and fainted. And her friend Jasmine
lamented: "Alas! Love is a hard master. It has reduced her to this
condition." But she gradually brought her back to life with cool water and
fans and things. She made an easy bed of lotus-leaves. She put pearls cool
as snow on her heart.
Then Love-cluster came to herself and slowly said to her weeping
friend: "My dear, the fire within me cannot be quenched by such things as
pearls. If you want to save my life, be clever enough to bring my lover to
And the loving Jasmine said: "My dear, the night is almost over. In the
morning I will bring your lover here to meet you. Be brave and go now to
Love-cluster was contented. She took the pearls from her neck and gave
them to her friend as a present. And she said: "Let us go now. Then in the
morning you must keep your promise." So she went to her room.
In the morning Jasmine crept out without being seen to hunt for the
house of Lotus-lake. When she got there, she found Lotus-lake under a tree
in the garden. He was lying on a couch of lotus-leaves moistened with
sandal, and the friend who knew his secret was fanning him with
plantain-leaf fans, for he was tortured by the flames of love. And Jasmine
hid, to find out whether this was lovesickness for her friend or not.
Then the friend said to Lotus-lake: "My friend, comfort your heart by
glancing a moment at this charming garden. Do not be so troubled."
But he said to his friend: "My heart has been stolen by Love-cluster.
It is no longer in my body. How can I comfort it? Love has made an empty
quiver of me. So invent some plan by which I may meet the thief of my
Then Jasmine came out joyfully and without fear and showed herself. And
she said: "Sir, Love-cluster has sent me to you, and I am the bearer of a
message to you. Is it good manners to enter the heart of an innocent girl
by force, steal her thoughts, and run away? It is strange, but the sweet
girl is ready to give her person and her life to you, her charmer. For day
and night she heaves sighs hot as the smoke from the fire of love that
burns in her heart. And teardrops carry her rouge away and fall, like bees
longing for the honey of her lotus-face. So, if you wish it, I will tell
you what is good for both of you."
And Lotus-lake said: "My good girl, the words which tell me that my
love is lonely and longing, frighten me and comfort me. You are our only
refuge. Devise a plan."
And Jasmine answered: "This very night I will bring Love-cluster
secretly to the garden. You must be outside. Then I will cleverly let you
in, and so you two will be united." Thus Jasmine delighted the Brahman's
son, and went away successful to please Love-cluster with the news.
Then the sun and the daylight fled away, pursuing the twilight. And the
East adorned her face with the moon. And the white night-blooming lotuses
laughed, their faces expanding at the thought of the glory that was coming
to them. At that hour the lover Lotus-lake came secretly, adorned and
filled with longing, to the garden-gate of his beloved. And Jasmine led
Love-cluster secretly into the garden, for she had lived through the day
Then Jasmine made her sit down under the mango trees, while she went
and let Lotus-lake in. So he entered and looked upon Love-cluster as the
traveller looks upon the shade of trees with thick foliage. And as he drew
near, she saw him and ran to him, for love took away her modesty, and she
fell on his neck. "Where would you go? I have caught you, thief of my
heart!" she cried. Then excessive joy stopped her breathing and she died.
She fell on the ground like a vine broken by the wind. Strange are the
mysterious ways of Love.
When Lotus-lake saw that terrible fall, he cried: "Oh, what does it
mean?" And he fainted and fell down. Presently he came to himself, and
took his darling on his lap. He embraced her and kissed her and wept
terribly. He was so borne down by the terrible burden of grief that his
own heart broke. And when they were both dead, the night seemed to die
away in shame and fear.
In the morning the relatives heard the story from the gardeners, and
came there filled with timidity and wonder and grief and madness. They did
not know what to do, but stood a long time with downcast eyes. Unfaithful
women disgrace a family.
Presently the husband Jewel-guard came back from his father's house in
Copper City, filled with love for Love-cluster. When he came to his
father-in-law's house and saw the business, he was blinded by tears and
went thoughtfully into the garden. There he saw his wife dead in another
man's arms, and his body was scorched by flames of grief, and he died
Then the whole household shouted and screamed so that all the citizens
heard the story and came there. The demi-gods themselves were filled with
pity and prayed to the goddess Gauri whose image had been set up there
before by Love-cluster's father: "Oh, Mother, the merchant who set up this
statue was always devoted to you. Show mercy to him in his affliction."
And the gracious goddess heard their prayer. She said: "All three shall
live again, and shall forget their love." Then through her grace they all
arose like people waking from sleep. They were alive, and their love was
gone. While all the people there rejoiced at what had happened. Lotus-lake
went home, bending his head in shame. And the merchant took his shamefaced
daughter and her husband and went into the house and made a feast.
When the goblin had told this story on the road in the night, he said:
"O King, which was the most foolish among those who died for love? If you
know and do not tell, you must remember the curse I spoke of before."
Then the king answered: "O magic creature, Jewel-guard was the most
foolish of them. When he saw that his wife had died for love of another
man, he should have been angry. Instead, he was loving, and died of
Then the goblin slipped from the king's shoulder and quickly set out
for his home. And the king ran after him again, eager as before.
The Four Brothers who brought a Dead Lion to Life. Which is to blame
when he kills them all?
Then the king went back to the sissoo tree, took the goblin, put him on
his shoulder, and started for the place he wished to reach. And as he
walked along the road, the goblin began to talk again: "Bravo, King! You
are a remarkable character. So I will tell you another story, and a
strange one. Listen."
There is a city called Flower-city. There lived a king named
Earth-boar. In his kingdom was a farm where a Brahman lived whose name was
Vishnuswami. His wife was named Swaha. And four sons were born to them.
After a time the father died, and the relatives took all the money. So
the four brothers consulted together: "There is nothing for us to do here.
Suppose we go somewhere." And after a long journey they came to the house
of their maternal grandfather in a village called Sacrifice. The
grandfather was dead, but their uncles sheltered them, and they continued
But they did not amount to much, so in time their uncles became
scornful in such matters as food and clothing. And they were troubled.
Then the eldest took the others aside and said: "Brothers, no man can
do anything anywhere on earth. Now I was wandering about discouraged, and
I came to a wood. There I saw to-day a dead man whose limbs lay relaxed on
the ground. And I wished for the same fate, and I thought: He is happy. He
is free from the burden of woe.' So I made up my mind to die, and hanged
myself with a rope from a tree. I lost consciousness, but before the
breath of life was gone, the cord was cut and I fell to the ground. And
when I came to myself, I saw a compassionate man who had happened by at
that moment, and he was fanning me with his garment. And he said to me: My
friend, you are an educated man. Tell me why you are so despondent. The
righteous man finds happiness, the unrighteous man finds unhappiness
because of his unrighteousness, and for no other reason. If you made up
your mind to this because of unhappiness, practice righteousness instead.
Why seek the pains of hell by suicide?' Thus the man comforted me and went
away. And I gave up the idea of suicide and came here. You see I could not
even die when fate was unwilling. Now I shall burn my body at some holy
place, that I may not again feel the woes of poverty."
Then the younger brothers said to him: "Sir, why is an intelligent man
sad for lack of money? Do you not know that money is uncertain as an
autumn cloud? No matter how carefully won and guarded, three things are
fickle and bring sorrow at the last: evil friendships, a flirt, and money.
The resolute and sensible man should by all means acquire that virtue
which brings him Happiness a captive in bonds."
So the eldest brother straightway plucked up heart, and said: "What
virtue is it which we should acquire?"
Then they all reflected, and took counsel together: "We will wander
over the earth, and each of us will learn some one science." So they
appointed a place for meeting, and the four brothers started in four
After a time they all gathered at the meeting-place, and asked one
another what they had learned. The first said: "I have learned a science
by which I can take the skeleton of any animal whatever and put the proper
kind of flesh on it."
The second said: "I have learned a science by which I can put on the
flesh-covered skeleton the proper hair and skin."
The third said: "My science is this. When the skin and the flesh and
the hair are there, I can put in the eyes and the other organs of sense."
The fourth said: "When the organs are there, I can give the creature
the breath of life."
So all four went into the forest to find a skeleton and test their
various sciences. As fate would have it, they found the skeleton of a lion
there. And they took that, not knowing the difference.
The first fitted out the skeleton with appropriate flesh. The second
added the skin and hair. The third provided all the organs. The fourth
gave life to the thing, and it was a lion. The lion arose with terrible
massive mane, dreadful teeth in his mouth, and curving claws in his paws.
He arose and killed his four creators, then ran into the forest.
Thus the Brahman youths all perished because they did wrong to make a
lion. Who could expect a good result from creating a bad-tempered
creature? Thus, if fate opposed, even a virtue that has been painfully
acquired does not profit, but rather injures. But the tree of manhood,
with the water of intelligence poured into its watering-trench of conduct
about the vigorous root of fate, generally bears good fruit.
When the goblin had told this story, he asked the king who was walking
through the night: "O King, remember the curse I mentioned, and tell me
which of them was most to blame for creating the lion?"
And the king reflected in silence: "He wants to escape again. Very
well. I will catch him again." So he said: "The one who gave life to the
lion, is the sinner. The others did not know what kind of an animal it
was, and just showed their skill in creating flesh and skin and hair and
organs. They were not to blame because they were ignorant. But the one who
saw that it was a lion and gave it life just to exhibit his skill, he was
guilty of the murder of Brahmans."
Then the goblin went home. And the king followed him again, and came to
the sissoo tree.
The Old Hermit who exchanged his Body for that of the Dead Boy. Why did
he weep and dance?
Then the king went back to the sissoo tree, put the goblin on his
shoulder in spite of all its writhings, and set out in silence. And the
goblin on his shoulder said: "O king of kings, you are terribly obstinate
about this impossible task. So to amuse the weary journey I will tell a
In the Kalinga country was a city called Beautiful, where people lived
as happily as in heaven. There ruled a famous king named Pradyumna. And in
a part of this city was a region set apart by the king, where many
Brahmans lived. Among them was a learned, wealthy, pious, hospitable
Brahman named Sacrifice.
In his old age a single son was born to him and his worthy wife. The
boy grew under the fostering care of his father, and showed signs of
excellence. He was called Devasoma by his father, and his parents were
entirely devoted to him.
In his sixteenth year the boy attracted everyone by his learning and
modesty. Then he suddenly fell ill of a fever and died. When his father
and mother saw that he was really dead, they embraced the body and wept
aloud. But their love for him would not permit them to burn the body.
So the old relatives gathered, and said to the father: "Brahman, life
is imaginary like a city in the sky. Do you not know this, you who know
things above and things below? The kings who enjoyed themselves like gods
upon the earth, they have gone one by one to cemeteries filled with
processions of weeping ghosts. Their bodies were burned by the
flesh-devouring fire and eaten by jackals. No one could prevent it in
their case. How much less in the case of others? Therefore, as you are a
wise man, tell us what you mean by embracing this dead body?"
So at last the relatives persuaded him to let his son go, and they put
the body in a litter and brought it to the cemetery with weeping and
At that time a hermit was fulfilling a hard vow, and was living in a
hut in the cemetery. He was very thin because of his age and his hard
life. His veins stuck out like cords to bind him, as if afraid that he
would break in pieces. His hair was tawny like the lightning.
This hermit heard the wailing of the people, and turned to his pupil
who begged food for him. Now this pupil was proud and arrogant. And the
hermit said: "My boy, what is this wailing we hear? Go outside and find
out, then return and tell me why this unheard-of commotion is taking
But the pupil said: "I will not go. Go yourself. My hour for begging is
Then the teacher said: "Fool! Glutton! What do you mean by your hour
for begging? Only one half of the first watch of the day is gone."
Then the bad pupil became angry and said: "Decrepit old man! I am not
your pupil. And you are not my teacher. I am going away. Do your begging
yourself." And he angrily threw down his staff and bowl before the old
man, and got up, and went away.
Then the hermit laughed. He left his hut and went to the place where
the dead Brahman boy had been brought to be burned. He saw how the people
mourned over such youthful freshness dead, and felt his own age and
weakness. So he made up his mind to exchange his body for the other by
He went aside and wept at the top of his voice. Then he danced with all
the proper gestures.
After that, full of the longing to enjoy the happiness of youth, he
left his own withered body by magic and entered the body of the Brahman
youth. So the Brahman youth came to life on the funeral pyre and stood up.
And a cry of joy arose from all the relatives: "See! The boy is alive! He
Then the magician in the body of the Brahman boy said to the relatives:
"I went to the other world, and Shiva gave me life and directed me to
perform a great vow. So now I am going off to perform the vow. If I do
not, my life will not last. Do you then go home, and I will come later."
So he spoke to those gathered there, having made up his mind what to
do, and sent them home full of joy and grief. He went himself and threw
his old body into a pit, and then went off, a young man.
When the goblin had told this story, he said to King Triple-victory,
who was walking through the night: "O King, when the magician entered
another person's body, why did he weep before doing it, or why did he
dance? I have a great curiosity about this point."
And the king was afraid of the curse, so he broke silence and said:
"Listen, goblin. He thought: I am leaving to-day this body with which I
won magic powers, the body which my parents petted when I was a child.' So
first he wept from grief, and from love of his body which he found it hard
to leave. Then he thought: With a new body I can learn more magic.' So he
danced from joy at getting youth."
When the goblin heard this answer, he returned quickly to the sissoo
tree. And the king pursued him, undismayed.
The Father and Son who married Daughter and Mother. What relation were
The king paid no attention to the terrible witch of night, clad in
black darkness, with the funeral piles as flaming eyes. He bravely went
through the dreadful cemetery to the sissoo tree, put the goblin on his
shoulder, and started as before. And as he walked along, the goblin said
to him: "O King, I am very tired with these comings and goings, but you do
not seem to be. So I will tell you my Great Puzzle. Listen."
Long ago there was a king named Virtue in the southern country. He was
the best of righteous men, and was born in a great family. His wife came
from the Malwa country, and her name was Moonlight. And they had one
daughter, whom they named Beauty.
When this daughter was grown up, the relatives conspired to wreck the
kingdom and drive King Virtue out. But he escaped by night, took a great
many jewels, and fled from his kingdom with his beautiful wife and his
daughter. He started for his father-in-law's house in Malwa, and came with
his wife and daughter to the Vindhya forest. There they spent a weary
In the morning the blessed sun arose in the east, stretching out his
rays like hands to warn the king not to go into the forest where robbers
lived. The king went on foot with his trembling daughter and his wife, and
their feet were wounded by the thorny grass. So they came to a fortified
village. It was like the city of Death; for there were no righteous people
there, and it was filled with robber-men who killed and robbed other
As the king drew near with his fine garments and his gems, many robbers
saw him from a distance, and ran out armed to rob him. When the king saw
them coming, he said to his wife and daughter: "These are wild men. They
must not touch you. Go into the thick woods." So the queen with her
daughter Beauty fled in fear into the middle of the forest.
But the brave king took his sword and shield and killed many of the
wild men as they charged down, raining arrows on him. Then their leader
gave an order, and all the robbers fell on the king at once, wounded every
limb in his body, and killed him; for he was all alone. So the robbers
took the jewels and went away.
Now the queen had hidden in a thicket, and had seen her husband killed.
Then she fled a long distance in fear and came with her daughter into
another thick wood. The rays of the midday sun were so fierce that
travellers had to sit in the shade. So Queen Moonlight and Princess Beauty
sat down under an ashoka tree near a lotus-pond in terrible weariness and
fear and grief.
Now a gentleman named Fierce-lion who lived near came on horseback with
his son into that wood to hunt. The son's name was Strong-lion. And the
father saw the footprints of the queen and the princess, and he said to
his son: "My son, these footprints are clean-cut and ladylike. Let us
follow them. And if we find two women, you shall marry one of them,
whichever you choose."
And the son Strong-lion said: "Father, the one who has the little feet
in this line of footprints, seems to be the wife for me. The one with the
bigger feet must be older. She is the wife for you."
But Fierce-lion said: "My son, what do you mean? Your mother went to
heaven before your eyes. When so good a wife is gone, how could I think of
But his son said: "Not so, Father. A householder's house is an empty
place without a wife. Besides, you have surely heard what the poet says:
What fool would go into a house? Tis a prisoner's abode, Unless a buxom
wife is there, Looking down the road.'
So, Father, I beg you on my life to marry the second one, whom I have
chosen for you."
Then Fierce-lion said "Very well," and went on slowly with his son,
following the footprints. And when he came to the pond, he saw Queen
Moonlight, radiant with beauty and charm. And with his son he eagerly
approached her. But when she saw him, she rose in terror, fearing that he
was a robber.
But her sensible daughter said: "There is no reason to fear. These two
men are not robbers. They are two well-dressed gentlemen, who probably
came here to hunt." Still the queen swung in doubt.
Then Fierce-lion dismounted and stood before her. And he said:
"Beautiful lady, do not be frightened. We came here to hunt. Pluck up
heart and tell me without fear who you are. Why have you come into this
lonely wood? For your appearance is that of ladies who wear gems and sit
on pleasant balconies. And why should feet fit to saunter in a court,
press this thorny ground? It is a strange sight. For the wind-blown dust
settles on your faces and robs them of beauty. It hurts us to see the
fierce rays of the sun fall upon such figures. Tell us your story. For our
hearts are sadly grieved to see you in such a plight. And we cannot see
how you could live in a forest filled with wild beasts."
Then the queen sighed, and between shame and grief she stammered out
her story. And Fierce-lion saw that she had no husband to care for her. So
he comforted her and soothed her with tender words, and took care of her
and her daughter. His son helped the two ladies on horseback and led them
to his own city, rich as the city of the god of wealth. And the queen
seemed to be in another life. She was helpless and widowed and miserable.
So she consented. What could she do, poor woman?
Then, because the queen had smaller feet, the son Strong-lion married
Queen Moonlight. And Fierce-lion, the father, married her daughter, the
princess Beauty, because of the bigness of her feet. Who would break a
promise that had been made solemnly?
Thus, because of their inconsistent feet, the daughter became the wife
of the father and the mother-in-law of her own mother. And the mother
became the wife of the son and the daughter-in-law of her own daughter.
And as time passed, sons and daughters were born to each pair.
When the goblin had told this story, he asked the king: "O King, when
children were born to the father and daughter, and other children to the
son and mother, what relation were those children to one another? If you
know and do not tell, then remember the curse I spoke of before?"
When the king heard the goblin's question, he turned the thing this way
and that, but could not say a word. So he went on in silence. And when the
goblin saw that he could not answer the question, he laughed in his heart
and thought: "This king cannot give an answer to my Great Puzzle. So he
just walks on in silence. And he cannot deceive me because of the power of
the curse. Well, I am pleased with his wonderful character. So I will
cheat that rogue of a monk, and give the magic power he is striving after
to this king."
So the goblin said aloud: "O King, you are weary with your comings and
goings in this dreadful cemetery in the black night, yet you seem happy,
and never hesitate at all. I am astonished and pleased at your
perseverance. So now you may take the dead body and go ahead. I will leave
the body. And I will tell you something that will do you good, and you
must do it. The monk for whom you are carrying this body, is a rogue. He
will call upon me and worship me, and he will try to kill you as a
sacrifice. He will say: Lie flat on the ground in an attitude of
reverence.' O King, you must say to that rascal: I do not know this
attitude of reverence. Show me first, and then I will do likewise.' Then
when he lies on the ground to show you the attitude of reverence, cut off
his head with your sword. Then you will get the kingship over the fairies
which he is trying to get. Otherwise, the monk will kill you and get the
magic power. That is why I have delayed you so long. Now go ahead, and win
So the goblin left the body on the king's shoulder and went away. And
the king reflected how the monk Patience was planning to hurt him. He took
the body and joyfully went to the fig-tree.
So King Triple-victory came to the monk Patience with the body on his
shoulder. And he saw the monk along in the dark night, sitting under the
cemetery tree and looking down the road. He had made a magic circle with
yellow powdered bones in a spot smeared with blood. In it he had put a jug
filled with blood and lamps with magic oil. He had kindled a fire and
brought together the things he needed for worship.
The monk rose to greet the king who came carrying the body, and he
said: "O King, you have done me a great favour, and a hard one. This is a
strange business and a strange time and place for such as you. They say
truly that you are the best of kings, for you serve others without
thinking of yourself. This is the very thing that makes the greatness of a
great man, when he does not give a thing up, though it costs his very
So the monk felt sure the he was quite successful, and he took the body
from the king's shoulder. He bathed it and put garlands on it, and set it
in the middle of the circle. Then he smeared his own body with ashes, put
on a cord made of human hair, wrapped himself in dead man's clothes, and
stood a moment, deep in thought. And the goblin was attracted by his
thought into the body, and the monk worshipped him.
First he offered liquor in a skull, then he gave him human teeth
carefully cleaned, and human eyes and flesh. So he completed his worship,
then he said to the king: "O King, fall flat on the ground before this
master magician in an attitude of reverence, so that he may give you what
And the king remembered the words of the goblin. He said to the monk:
"Holy sir, I do not know that attitude of reverence. Do you show me first,
and afterwards I will do it in the same way."
And when the monk fell on the ground to show the attitude of reverence,
the king cut off his head with a sword, and cut out his heart and split it
open. And he gave the head and the heart to the goblin.
Then all the little gods were delighted and cried: "Well done!" And the
goblin was pleased and spoke to the king from the body he was living in:
"O King, this monk was trying to become king of the fairies. But you shall
be that when you have been king of the whole world."
And the king answered the goblin: "O magic creature, if you are pleased
with me, I have nothing more to wish for. Yet I ask you to make me one
promise, that these twenty-two different, charming puzzle-stories shall be
known all over the world and be received with honour."
And the goblin answered: "O King, so be it. And I will tell you
something more. Listen. When anyone tells or hears with proper respect
even a part of these puzzle-stories, he shall be immediately free from
sin. And wherever these stories are told, elves and giants and witches and
goblins and imps shall have no power."
Then the goblin left the dead body by magic, and went where he wanted
to. Then Shiva appeared there with all the little gods, and he was well
pleased. When the king bowed before him, he said: "My son, you did well to
kill this sham monk who tried by force to become king of the fairies.
Therefore you shall establish the whole earth, and then become king of the
fairies yourself. And when you have long enjoyed the delights of heaven
and at last give them up of your own accord, then you shall be united with
me. So receive from me this sword called Invincible. While you have it,
everything you say will come true."
So Shiva gave him the magic sword, received his flowery words of
worship, and vanished with the gods.