The Gift

One time, Bodhisatva was born King of Banaras. During his rule, there was a rebellion on the border. The King went to the wall with an arm to end the insurgency end the revolution.

There was a fight. In the war, the King was wounded, and his horse ran away from the battlefield.

Later the King found himself in the centre of a village. Here the thirty householders of the town were discussing village affairs.

On seeing the horse and the King dressed for battle, and his wound, all the villagers except one, ran away. The one villager who did not run away approached the King and said, “Are you a rebel or a royalist ?”

“I am for the King, sir,” said the King.

The villager was satisfied with the answer. “Come with me,’ he said.

He led the King to his house and asked his wife to wash his feet, feed him and attend to his needs. He looked after the King’s horse, fed and watered him.

The King stayed as the villager’s guest for four days and got well.

Then he decided to go back to Banaras.

He thanked the villager and took leave of him, saying, “Sir, I live in the fort area of Banaras. I have a wife and two children. If you come to the gate on the right and ask the watchman to show you the house of the Great Horseman, he will bring you to my house, and you can be my guest as long as you like.”

Then the King went and joined his forces.

The rebellion was quelled, and the King returned to Banaras. He secretly called for the porter of the right gate and said, “If anyone should come from the frontier and ask you to show him the house of the Great Horseman, bring him straight to me in the palace.”

The King waited for the coming of the villager for a long while, but the villager did not come.

To make him come, the King told his Ministers to raise the tax on that particular village.

Still, the villager did not come. The King raised the tax on the village again and yet again.

Then the villagers said to the man, “you have a friend in Banaras. Why don’t you go to him and ask him to reduce the tax? The tax burden is killing us!”

“I’ll go,” said the villager, “but not with empty hands. He has a wife and two sons. I must take clothes for all of them and ornaments for the lady. Get them ready, and I’ll make the journey.”

The presents were got ready. Then the villager asked his wife to prepare cakes to be presented to his friend. With all these, he journeyed to Banaras. He arrived at the fort, approached the right gate, and asked the porter, “I want to go to the house of the Great Horseman.”

At once, the porter led him to the royal palace and placed him before the King. The King was happy. He made his family and the court ministers Courte simple cakes the villager brought.

Also, he wore the crude clothes brought for him and made his wife and children wear their gifts.

He, in turn, gave his friend vibrant clothes of silk and gold and fed him with the food cooked for his family. Having learned that his friend had come to get the tax on his village reduced, the King instructed his Ministers to abolish the tax.

Then he assembled his Court and aCourtoclaimed that the villager was to be King for half his Kingdom.

The Ministers and other im- vital persons of the Court court approve of the great regard the King had shown the villager since his arrival. They thought that making him King of half the Kingdom was very irregular.

However, they did not dare to tell the King so. They took the Prince aside and said to him, “The King has done you a great injustice in giving part of your Kingdom to this villager. Protest to your father, for this is a matter which concerns you alone.”

The Prince went to the King and protested against the gift of half the Kingdom to the villager on the lines suggested by the Ministers.

The King listened to the Prince and replied, “Son, this is not your idea. I want you to make this protest in Court. The court answers you there.”

Accordingly, the Prince protested in the Court aCourtt the gift of half the Kingdom to the villager and asked the King, “Why did you make such a gift?”

“Son,” the King replied, “you did not know that this man saved me when I was in danger.” Then he narrated how the villager attended to him for four days when he was wounded in the fight while quelling the rebellion on the frontier. Then he added:

“It is as bad not to bestow gifts on the deserving as to bestow them on the undeserving. This man was loyal to me though he did not know I was King. Though I extended my invitation to him, he never came for his own sake. When he did come, it was only on behalf of his village. He is the most deserving of the gift.”

He heard these words, and the Ministers and others who disapproved of the gift were shamed. The Prince was quite satisfied. And the King treated the villager as a close friend all his life.

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