The Needy

While Brahma-Dutt ruled Banaras, Bodhisatva was born to a poor Brahmin of a particular village. He was named Soma- Dutt. His father cultivated the tiny bit of land he had and maintained his family somehow.

Soma-Dutt came of age, and his heart was filled with pity for his old father, who broke his back working on the land from morning till night. To bring happiness to his aged father, he thought of getting an education and employment. He could share his father’s struggle, but that would not add to the income since the land was tiny. So he said to his father, “I shall go to Taksha-sila and obtain learning.”

Soma-Dutt went to Taksha-sila and studied under a guru. After completing his studies, he returned home. His father was still labouring on the land with the help of a couple of bullocks. He could not tolerate this state of affairs even for a moment. The next day, he proceeded to Banaras and found employment in the Court.

Soon after, one of the bullocks died, and Soma-dutt’s father became helpless. The bull had been supporting him and being supported by him for a long time, and now it was dead. He thought of his educated son employed in the King’s Court. Surely he could obtain the gift of a bullock for him from the King. The older man made the journey to Banaras and met his son, Soma-Dutt.

“O father,” Soma-Dutt said, “You are too old to toil, and so is mother. Why don’t you both come and stay with me? You’ll be comfortable.”

“No, son”, the old man replied. “I’ve lived on that land and intend to die there. Give me the bullock gift, and I shall live happily, cultivating my land. I won’t be happy here.”

Now, Soma-Dutt was in employment only for a short time. He had not put in enough to buy a bullock for his father. And he felt delicate to approach the King begging for gifts so soon; the King might take him for a greedy man.

“Father,” he said, “if I ask the King for a bullock, he may ask me why I want it, for whom I want it and so on. In any case, it is not fit for the employees of the Court to beg favours. You are free from such regulations. Tell the King what happened and beg him for the gift of a bullock. The King won’t deny you.”

“Son, I’m a villager, an old man. I don’t know anything except driving the plough,” the old man said. “How can I enter the King’s Court, face the King and ask him something? I’d die of fright first. I wouldn’t know how to word the request even. So please don’t put me into all this trouble. Ask the King yourself.”

“Then,” said Soma-Dutt, “I’ll make the task easy for you. I shall write a verse. Get it by heart and recite it before thKingng. He will give you what you want.”

The older man agreed to this arrangement. Soma-Dutt wrote. the following verse and gave it to his father.

“द्वे में गोणा महाराज, ये हि खेत्तं कस मसे । दुतियं देहि खत्तिय । ” तेसु एको मतो देव,

(“O King, I used to have two bullocks. I was tilling the land with their help. Now one of them is dead. So, King, please give me another.”)

With great difficulty, the older man got this verse by heart with his son’s help.

Then Soma-Dutt took him to court along with him. According to his son’s instructions, the older man folded his hands to the King and the ministers and stood expectantly.

“Who are you?” the King asked him. “What do you desire?”

At once the old man began to recite the verse which he ob- tained from his son. But in his confusion he made a mistake and recited as follows:

” द्वे में गोणा महाराज ! ये हि सोतं कसामसे ; तेसु एको मतो देव, दुतियं गण्ड खत्तिय ।”

Everyone burst out laughing, and Soma-Dutt bowed his head in shame. Instead of saying, “Give me another bullock,” the old man said, “Take the other bullock.”

“Is it to offer me your second bullock that you have come all the way here?” the King jokingly asked the old man.

“Yes, sire,” the old man replied boldly. “It has given me enough trouble already.” Then he narrated to the King what took place.

ThKingng was most pleased with the behaviour of Soma-Dutt. Every employee in the Court was in the habit of begging little favours from the King on some pretext. Even in dire need, Soma-Dutt would not do that. The King ordered eight pairs of oxen to be dressed and decorated. Then he gifted them to the older man.

Leave a Reply

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