While Brahma-datta ruled Banaras, Bodhisatva was born into a low-income family and was known as Sutana. He grew up and maintained his parents by the product of his labours. In time his father died, but his mother survived. Even then, Sutana hardly found it possible to maintain himself and his aged mother despite his day-long labouring.

The King of the country was very fond of hunting. He went into the forest frequently and hunted wild animals. One day he chased a stag very far into the jungle and finally managed to shoot it down with an arrow. The stag was dead, but the King had to carry it himself, as he had no servant.

The King threw the stag across his shoulder and walked until noon. The heat was terrific. What with the chase and the load, the King was utterly tired. Luckily, he saw a huge banyan tree with its cool shade. He threw his burden down in the shade and lay down to rest.

But, the next moment, a tall demon stood before him and bellowed, “I’ll eat you!”

“Who are you?” the King asked the demon. “What right have you to eat me?”

“This tree belongs to me,” the demon replied. “I can eat anyone who steps into its shade and touches the ground below it with his feet. I am a demon!”

The King thought for a while and asked the demon, “Surely you eat not only now but every day?”

“Of course, I eat every day!” the demon replied.

“In that case,” the King said, “your food problem is not solved if you eat me now. But,” he went on, “if you are satisfied with this stag now and let me go free, I shall solve your food problem forever. I am the King of this land. So I can supply you with food and a man for each day.”

The demon was quite satisfied with this arrangement.

“On that condition, I shall spare you,” the demon said. “But if you fail to send me the man on any day, I shall come to you and eat you up.”

The King gave his stag to the demon, went home and told his Minister everything.

“I can manage everything satisfactorily, Your Highness,” said the Minister. “Our jails are overflowing with prisoners. Let one prisoner serve as food for the demon every day.”

From that day onwards, the Minister took out one prisoner every day and sent him along with other food for the demon under the banyan tree.

Over time, all the prisons became empty. The Minister was baffled as to what he should do. He got the following proclamation made throughout the land:

“The King will give a thousand rupees to anyone who volunteers to take food to the demon of the banyan tree.”

Sutana was greatly surprised when he heard this announcement. “What a wonder!” he said to himself. “Here am I toiling day and night and never seeing a copper, and the King pays a thousand rupees to anyone willing to be eaten up by the demon!”

“I shall accept the offer, mother”, he said to the old woman. “I’ll take the thousand rupees and take food to the demon. You can be quite comfortable with the money.”

“What nonsense!” the old woman said. “I am thrilled now! Don’t you go any- where!”

“Don’t fear for me, mother,” Sutana said. “I shall be quite safe. See if I don’t come back safe and sound.”

Then he went to the King and said: “Your Majesty, I am willing to take food to the demon in the forest if you lend me your sandals, sword, umbrella, and a gold bowl.”

“Why do you need all these things?” the King asked.

“Oh, I need them to outwit the demon!” Sutana replied.

Then he took the King’s sword, put the sandals on his feet, held the umbrella over his head, took the demon’s food in the gold bowl and went to the haunted banyan tree in the forest. But he did not step into the shade of the tree.

“You have come a long way in the hot sun,” said the demon to Sutana. “Why don’t you come into the shade and rest?”

“No, thanks,” said Sutana.. “I must return immediately. Here is your food.” He placed the bowl of food in the sun and pushed it into the shade of the tree with the sword’s tip.

The demon was enraged at this trick. He thundered at Sutana, “I usually eat the food and the man that brings it, too. “

“You have no right to eat me, you know,” Sutana replied. “I’ve not stepped into your shade nor touched your ground!”

“It is all a swindle!” roared the demon. “If I can’t eat you, I can’t! But I can certainly go to the King and eat him!”

“Wait!” said Sutana to the demon. “You are already an accursed creature. Don’t you realise that you are leading a disgraceful life because of past sins? Must you commit some more sins? Why can’t you reform now and lead a more respectable life?”

The demon’s face fell. “What do you expect me to do?” he said. “I do not know how to live any better.”

“Let me show you how to live better,” Sutana told the demon. “Come with me, and I’ll show you where you can live near the city gate. I shall send you clean food every day. Give up eating human beings.”

The demon agreed to follow Sutana’s advice.

Seeing Sutana return alive, the King was amazed. But he was happy to hear the complete account of what had happened. He appointed Sutana forthwith as the commander of his armed forces and followed his advice in all matters of state.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *