The Evil Practice
While Brahma-Dutt ruled Banaras, Bodhisatva was born as his son and named Kumar Brahma-Dutt. He went to Taksha-sila and studied all the Vedas and Upanishads. At sixteen, he completed his studies, returned, and was crowned the future King.
At that time, the people of Banaras worshipped several gods. Every year there were celebrations in which animals were sacrificed to these gods. Sheep, goats and chickens were killed, and their blood was offered to the deities. Such evil practices and superstitions, in which the people of the land were steeped, pained the Prince very greatly.
“When I become King,” he would say to himself, “I shall end these barbarous customs without spilling blood.”
Beyond the gates of the city, there stood a banian tree. People used to believe that a deity dwelt in the tree and granted the wishes of those who came to worship her and that the childless could become parents by regularly visiting the tree and praying to it.
One day the Prince mounted his chariot and went out of the city. As he approached the banian tree, he saw several men and women dancing around it passionately. At some distance, he got down from the chariot and walked up to the tree. Then he offered flowers to the tree and made three perambulations around it. After this, he mounted his chariot again and returned.
Then onwards, he visited the tree frequently and worshipped it as though he believed in minor deities.
Sometime later, the King died, and Kumar Brahma-Dutt became the King of Banaras in his father’s place. As soon as the crowning ceremony was over, the new King got his full court assembled and spoke thus:
“Not one of you knows how I have become King. But most of you might have seen me frequently leave the city and go to the sacred Banian Tree while I was crown prince. I prayed to the tree to make me King. I offered to sacrifice a thousand souls to the tree if my wish were to be fulfilled. My wish came true, and the sacrifice must be made!”
The courtiers were immensely pleased to hear this. The ministers said to the King, Your Highness, the sacrifice shall be made. But what animals did you offer to sacrifice?”
“It was not animals I promised to sacrifice,” said the King, “but men a thousand men who indulge in sacrificing animals to the gods. Look out for such persons and bring them for the sacrifice. Proclaim that effect all over the land.”
There was a hush in the whole court. Each courtier was in the habit of making sacrifices, and they could say. Nothing one way or the other. The proclamation was duly made, and animal sacrifices disappeared as by magic.