The Dwarf

When Brahma-Datta was King of Banaras, Bodhisatva was born as the son of a Brahman. He was a concise person. So he was called Dwarf’. At an early age, he went to Taksha-sila, studied archery under a teacher, and mastered that science.

Having completed his education, Dwarf set out to earn a living as an archer. With this aim in view, he travelled to many lands and saw many kings, told them that he was an ex- pert archer and offered to serve under them. But, seeing his short stature, no one took him seriously, and Dwarf could not get a job.

He was at a loss as to how he could make a living or put his talent to any use. One day while he was passing through the weavers’ street of a particular village, he saw a stalwart man sitting at his loom and weaving.

Dwarf approached the weaver and asked, “Friend, may I know your name?”

“They call me Bhim,” the weaver replied. The name suited him.

“You are so tall, so well-built, and you have such a resounding name!” Dwarf said. “Why do you waste your time weaving? You ought to do better.”

“What can I do?” Bhim replied. “This is the only thing I know how to do.”

“Come with me,” Dwarf said, “and I’ll show you a way of living decently.”

Bhim was glad. He agreed to follow Dwarf. They journeyed for a few days and reached Banaras.

“Go to the King,” Dwarf told Bhim. “Tell him that you are an expert archer and offer your services. The King will notice how tall and well-built you are and will give you employment.”

“But I do not know any archery!” Bhim protested.

“That does not matter. I am an expert archer. Make me your aid. I will be at hand whenever you need me,” Dwarf said.

So Bhim went and saw the King of Banaras, told him that he was an expert archer, and was promptly employed as the King’s Archer on a salary of a thousand rupees a fortnight. The Dwarf got hired as an aide to Bhim. Both began to live comfortably on Bhim’s earnings.

After a time, a particular tiger began to haunt the highway that led to the city of Banaras and pounce upon wayfarers. There was panic among the people, and the King had to do something about it.

The King sent for Bhim the Archer and said, “O Bhim, there is a tiger in such and such part of the highway, menacing travellers. Go at once and kill it!”

Bhim agreed to kill the tiger, took leave of the King, and came home. Now I am in a fix,” he told Dwarf. “How am I going to kill this tiger? Help me out.”

“Listen to me carefully,” Dwarf said. “You will not be able to kill the tiger unaided. On leaving the city, gather two thousand villagers and take them to the tiger’s haunt. When you hear the tiger roar, get into some bush and hide there. The villagers will kill the tiger. Make sure the tiger is dead and come out of your hiding place with a length of a creeper. On seeing the dead tiger, get angry, and shout, ‘Who has killed this tiger? I intended to tether it with this creeper and show it to the King! I could have done it myself without your assistance if I wanted to kill it! Now tell me who the scoundrel that killed the tiger so I can get him beheaded was!’ The villagers will be frightened. They will deny that they had anything to do with the killing of the tiger. Then you can return to the city and claim that you killed it without fearing anyone contradicting you!”

Bhim followed the instructions of his aide to the last letter. While the villagers killed the tiger, he hid in a bush. He then came out with a long creeper after the tiger was dead. He made a lot of fuss about the beast’s death and scared the villagers. The frightened villagers slipped away to their homes.

Then Bhim returned to the city pompously, saw the King and said to him, “Sire, the highway is once again safe for the pedestrians!”

The King was mightily pleased with Bhim’s valour. Bhim’s glory spread all around, and compliments were showered upon him continuously. Soon, the fool began to believe in his courage and treated his aide contemptuously. Dwarf observed this change that had come over the weaver but ignored it.

Sometime later, an enemy king marched his armies on the State of Banaras and laid siege to the city. His envoys brought word from him, asking the King of Banaras, “Will you surrender or fight?”

The King sent for Bhim and said to him, “Take the necessary forces and conquer the enemy!”

Bhim was put into battle array. He was dressed in armour, given a bow and arrows, sat upon an elephant and sent to the battleground.

The Dwarf knew that Bhim was in danger. He armed himself with a bow and arrows and sat behind Bhim on the elephant. The elephant marched to the battleground surrounded by cavalry and infantry.

Bhim began to shake with fear as soon as he saw the orderly lines of the enemy soldiers before him. Sweat began to pour out of him profusely while his hands and feet went numb with cold. He attempted to slip off the elephant and escape. Had not dwarf frustrated this attempt and tied him up securely to the elephant, Bhim would have been trodden to death under the horses’ hooves. Now Dwarf took command of the situation on his initiative. He spurred the elephant on into the enemy ranks, raining arrows on the enemy all the while. No one could halt him, and he made straight for the enemy King, scattering the enemy forces. Soon the enemy king was wounded, defeated and taken prisoner.

As soon as Dwarf returned victorious from the battleground, the King knew he was the real archer. He at once made him the King’s Archer in Bhim’s place. The Dwarf gave Bhim a good number of gifts and sent him away.

Leave a Reply

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