While Brahmadutt ruled Banaras, Bodhisatva was born into a peasant family. His parents named him Lotus and brought him up affectionately.

Even as a small boy Lotus displayed an intelligence far beyond his years, he was very much attached to his grandfather.

The older man was of advanced age. He could not even move about. So someone or another had to attend to him constantly. The mother of Lotus did not like this, and she anxiously looked forward to his death, but death appeared to avoid him.

One day she complained to her husband, “I am quite annoyed with the old man. All my time is wasted on attending to him.”

“He won’t live long now,” her husband assured her. “He is very, very old.”

“And yet he will not die,” the wife moaned. “He is taking the life out of me.”

“Let him live his life out,” the husband said. “What can we do about it? Kill him off deliberately?”

“Why not?” his wife retorted. “Life is a burden both to him and to us. How much killing does an old man require?”

At first, the peasant felt it would be horrible to kill his father. But, as time passed and his wife’s nagging worsened, he began to think that killing his father was reasonable.

At last, the peasant found a way to kill the older man and make him disappear. “Father,” he said to the old man one day, “I arranged for a loan in a neighbouring village. They are ready to give the loan if you come and take it in person. The cart is ready; please get into it.”

The older man believed his son and got into the cart, and Lotus, who never liked being away from his grandfather, climbed into the cart and refused to stay behind.

The peasant was forced to take his son along with his father. He drove the cart till they reached- ed a forest. In the forest, the peasant stopped the carriage, took a spade and went into the bushes promising to return soon.

“I shall come back soon,” said Lotus to his grandfather. He, too, took a spade and stealthily went behind his father. After going some distance, Lotus saw his father digging a pit with the spade behind a bush. He started digging another hole on the other side of the brush.

The peasant heard someone else digging nearby. He went round the bush and saw his little son digging a pit. “What are you digging for?” he asked Lotus.

“Whatever you are digging for!” replied Lotus calmly.

“Do you know what I am digging for?” the peasant asked.

“No,” said Lotus.

“Well,” said the peasant, “I am digging a grave for my father. As a son, I must bury my father when he dies.”

“But he is still alive!” Lotus said in surprise.

“You never can tell,” the peasant told Lotus. “Death may come any minute.”

“Well,” said Lotus, “I must bury my father, and, as you say, death may come any minute.”

The peasant was taken aback at what his little son said. Only when Lotus uttered those words did the peasant realise what a shameful thing he was about to do. He picked up his spade and said to Lotus, “Let’s go!” Lotus, too, stopped digging and went behind his father.

The peasant turned the cart back and drove home.

In the meantime, the peasant’s wife prepared a feast of celebration and awaited the return of her husband and son.

She was pretty disappointed when she saw that her father-in-law had come back. The peasant narrated to her what took place in the forest. Her heart was crushed when she heard what Lotus did. And said.

“How nice we were to him!” she wailed. “And he wants to dig a grave for his father! How can he hate us so? How can I look at his face?”

“Was not my father nice to me?” said the peasant. “How did I intend to behave to him? Don’t think our child doesn’t love us. He only wanted to teach us a lesson. Let us learn this lesson properly.”

After this, the parents of Lotus never contemplated any mean business.

Chandamama November 1955

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