THE ELEPHANT THAT SPARED LIFE
AT that time the Bodisat was born as a nobleman's son. On
the naming-day they gave him the name of Prince Magha, and
when he grew up he was known as "Magha the young Brahmin."
His parents procured him a wife from a family of equal rank;
and, increasing in sons and daughters, he became a great giver
of gifts, and kept the Five Commandments.
In that village there were as many as thirty families; and one
day the men of those families stopped in the middle of the
village to transact some village business. The Bodisat removed
with his feet the lumps of soil on the place where he stood,
and made the spot convenient to stand on; but another came up
and stood there. Then he smoothed out another spot, and took
his stand there; but another man came and stood upon it. Still
the Bodisat tried again and again, with the same result, until
he had made convenient standing-room for all the thirty.
The next time he had an open-roofed shed put up there; and then
pulled that down, and built a hall, and had benches spread in
it, and a water-pot placed there. On another occasion those
thirty men were reconciled by the Bodisat, who confirmed them
in the Five Commandments; and thenceforward he continued with
them in works of piety.
Whilst they were so living they used to rise up early, go out
with bill-hooks and crow-bars in their hands, tear up with
the crowbars the stones in the four high roads and village
paths, and roll them away, take away the trees which would
be in the way of vehicles, make the rough places plain, form
causeways, dig ponds, build public halls, give gifts, and keep
the Commandments—thus, in many ways, all the dwellers in
the village listened to the exhortations of the Bodisat, and
kept the Commandments.
Now the village headman said to himself: "I used to have great
gain from fines, and taxes, and pot-money, when these fellows
drank strong drink, or took life, or broke the other
Commandments. But now Magha the young Brahmin has determined
to have the Commandments kept, and permits none to take life,
or to do anything else that is wrong. I'll make them keep the
Commandments with a vengeance!"
And he went in a rage to the King, and said: "O King! there are
a number of robbers going about sacking the villages!"
"Go and bring them up!" said the King in reply.
And he went, and brought back all those men as prisoners, and
had it announced to the King that the robbers were brought up.
And the King, without inquiring what they had done, gave orders
to have them all trampled to death by elephants!
Then they made them all lie down in the courtyard, and fetched
the elephant. And the Bodisat exhorted them, saving: "Keep
the Commandments in mind. Regard
them all—the slanderer, and the King, and the elephant
—with feelings as kind as you harbor towards yourselves!"
And they did so.
Then men led up the elephant; but though they brought him to
the spot, he would not begin his work, but trumpeted forth a
mighty cry, and took to flight. And they brought up another
and another, but they all ran away.
"There must be some drug in their possession," said the King;
and gave orders to have them searched. So they searched, but
found nothing, and told the King so.
"Then they must be repeating some spell. Ask them if they have
any spell to utter."
The officials asked them, and the Bodisat said there was. And
they told the King, and he had them all called before him, and
said: "Tell me that spell you know!"
Then the Bodisat spoke, and said: "O King! we have no other
spell but this—that we destroy no life, not even of grass;
that we take nothing which is not given to us; that we are never
guilty of unfaithfulness, nor speak falsehood, nor drink
intoxicants; that we exercise ourselves in love, and give gifts;
that we make rough places plain, dig ponds, and put up
rest-houses—this is our spell, this is our defense, this
is our strength!"
Then the King had confidence in them, and gave them all the
property in the house of the slanderer, and made him their
slave; and bestowed, too, the elephant upon them, and made
them a grant of the village.
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