THE HORSE THAT HELD OUT TO THE END
AND it came to pass that the Buddha (to be) came to life
in the shape of a Horse—a thoroughbred small horse,
and he was made the King’s Destrier, surrounded by pomp
and state. He was fed on exquisite three-year-old rice
which was always served up to him in a golden dish worth
a hundred thousand pieces of money, and the ground of his
stall was perfumed with the four odors. Round his stall
were hung crimson curtains, while overhead was a canopy
studded with stars of gold. On the wall were festooned
wreaths and garlands of fragrant flowers, and a lamp fed
with scented oil was always burning there.
Now all the kings round coveted the kingdom of Benares.
Once seven kings passed Benares and sent a missive to the
King, saying: "Either yield up your kingdom to us or give
Assembling his ministers, the King of Benares laid the
matter before them and asked what he was to do. Said they:
"You ought not to go out to battle in person, Sire, in the
first instance. Despatch such and such a Knight out first
to fight him, and, later on, if he fall, we will decide
what to do."
Then the King sent for that Knight and said to him:
"Can you fight the seven kings, my dear Knight?" Said
he: "Give me but your noble Destrier, and then I could
fight not only seven kings but all the kings in India."
"My dear Knight, take my Destrier or any horse you please,
and do battle." "Very good, my Sovereign Lord," said the
Knight, and with a bow he passed down from the upper
chambers of the palace.
Then he had the noble Destrier led out and sheathed in
mail, arming himself too and girding on his sword.
Mounted on his noble steed he passed out of the City
Gate, and with a lightning charge broke down the first
camp, taking one king alone, and bringing him back a
prisoner to the soldiers’ custody.
. . . And this went on until six kings had been made
prisoner. Then the noble Horse received a wound which
streamed with blood and caused him much pain. Perceiving
that the Horse was wounded, the Knight made it lie down
at the King’s gate, loosened its mail, and set about
arming another horse.
But the Horse perceiving this, said: "The other horse
will not be able to break down the seventh camp
and capture the seventh king: he will lose all that I
have accomplished. The peerless Knight will be slain,
and the King will fall into the hands of the foe. I alone
and no other horse can break down the seventh camp and
capture the seventh king."
So he called to the Knight and repeated these words,
and added: "I will not throw away what I have already
done. Only have me set upon my feet, and clad again in
my armor, and I will accomplish my work."
The Knight had the Horse set upon his feet, bound up
his wound, and armed him again in proof. Mounted on
the Destrier, he broke down the seventh camp, and
brought back alive the seventh king.
They led the Horse to the King’s gate, and the King
came up to look at him.
Then said the Great Being: "Great King, slay not these
seven kings: bind them by an oath, and let them go.
Let the Knight enjoy the honor due to us both. As for
you, exercise charity, keep the Ornaments, and rule
your kingdom in righteousness and justice." When the
Horse had thus exhorted the King, they took off his
mail, but as they were taking it off piecemeal, he
The King had the body buried with due respect, bestowed
great honors on the Knight, and sent the kings to their
homes, after exacting from each an oath never to war upon
him any more. And he ruled his kingdom in righteousness
and justice, passing away when his life closed, to fare
thereafter according to his deserts.
The story was told by the Master about a brother who
gave up persevering.
"Brethren, in bygone days the wise and good persevered
even in hostile surroundings, and even when they were
wounded they did not give in. Whereas you who have
devoted yourself to so saving a doctrine, how comes
it that you give up persevering?"