When Brahma-Datta was King in Banaras, he had a purohit called Pingala. This man had a tawny brown complexion, a bald head and a toothless mouth.
Bodhisatva, born as a young man named Takkariya, was Pingala’s pupil and lived with him.
Pingala had a brother-in-law whom he hated like poison; He, too, had a tawny brown complexion, a bald head and a toothless mouth.
Pingala had made several attempts to destroy his brother-in-law, but those attempts had all failed.
Finally, he thought of a new plan to destroy his enemy. He went to the King and said, “O King, Banaras is the greatest city of Bharat, and you are the greatest King in the country. For this reason, it is all the more regrettable that there should be a fault in your fort building. The fault is in our South Gate, and it is bound to bring you evil unless it is corrected at once, not to speak of the bad name it gets us. I pray that this defect should be rectified without the least delay.”
“How can we rectify it?” the King anxiously asked Pingala the Purohit.
“The gate must be pulled down,” Pingala replied. “Then another gate must be prepared out of auspicious timber. After selecting a favourable conjunction of the planets, necessary sacrifices should be made to the gods, and the new gate erected.”
Having obtained the King’s permission to change the South Gate, Pingala ordered the old gate to be pulled down and had the new gate made by the carpenters.
As soon as the new gate was ready, Pingala went to the King and said, “O King, the new gate is ready. Tomorrow is a perfect day for erecting it. Kindly give me the authority to make the sacrifice and the erection of the new gate.”
“Tell me,” said the King, “what you require for the sacrifice.”
“We must sacrifice a Brahman who has a tawny brown complexion, a bald head and a toothless mouth,” Pingala said.
“The mighty spirits to guard this gate should be satiated with flesh and blood of such a Brahman. Then he should be buried, and the new gate erected over him.”
“Well,” said the King, “find such a Brahman, sacrifice him to the Gods and erect the new gate. You have my permission.”
At last, Pingala had the King’s permission to kill his hated enemy in the name of sacrifice, and Pingala gloated at the success of his devilish scheme.
Going home in glee, he boasted to his wife, “Tomorrow, your brother is a dead man! I shall sacrifice him to the new gate!” He was so drunk with triumph that he did not exercise the little caution in concealing his plan.
“Why should you sacrifice my brother?” the wife asked him. “How could the King agree to it?”
“I did not tell the King whom I intend to sacrifice. I only told him I wanted a Brahman of tawny brown complexion, bald and toothless. And the King agreed. Tomorrow I shall take the guards to your brother’s house, show him to them and tell them that he will do for the sacrifice. No one can hinder me from getting him.”
The wife did not speak on the subject anymore, but that night she sent word to her brother that he should flee the city before sunrise, acquainting him with her husband’s scheme.
Pingala’s brother-in-law realised the danger he faced, collected two or three others of his description who lived in the city and left before dawn.
In the morning, Pingala went to the King and said, “O King, the man who is required to sacrifice lives in such and such place. Send your men to fetch him here.”
The King despatched his men. They went to the place mentioned by Pingala and learned that the one who was required had fled the city during the night and returned to report the same to the King.
“What is to be done now?” said the King anxiously. “Where can we find another man of that description?”
“O King,” the ministers said, “that is not a significant problem. Our Purohit answers to that description in all respects. Let him be the sacrificial beast! “
“It can be done, of course,” said the King, “but I shall be short of a Purohit. See if you can find someone good enough to substitute him as my Purohit.”
“Our Purohit has a disciple called Takkariya,” the ministers replied. “He is said to be cleverer than his teacher. You can have that young man as your new Purohit.”
“Good!” said the King. Takkariya was sent for. “You shall be my Purohit from now,” the King said to him. “Have this Pingala sacrificed, and the new gate erected over his remains.”
Takkariya proceeded to the South Gate. Pingala was decorated and garlanded like a sacrificial beast, tied hand and foot, and taken to the South Gate. At the spot where the sacrifice was to be made, a bottomless pit was dug. Takkariya entered the hole with his teacher.
“Ah, my dear fellow,” said Pingala, shedding tears, “see how I enter the pit which I have dug for someone else!”
“Sir,” said Takkariya, “one who talks too much is bound to come to grief. But do not be grieved. I shall inform the King that the correct conjunction of the planets does not occur until midnight. I shall so manage that you can escape under the darkness.”
Thus he arranged the sacrifice at midnight. He let Pingala escape and buried a dead goat in the pit, filled it and erected the new gate before dawn.