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 Buddhist Fables 
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     The Lotus Stalk

Once there was a Bodhisatta who was born in an well-known family of scholars. He also had six younger brothers and one sister. Having learnt all the Vedas and the Upavedas, he became famous for his learning. Moreover, he concentrated to his old parents with great care; and taught about his siblings, too.

His parents died. And when the burial ceremony was over, he made a sudden announcement to refuse to live the worldly life. All his seven brothers and his only sister, too, decided to join him as ascetics. So, they all gave up the worldly belongings and started to live in the forest as a true ascetics. They had two dedicated servants, too, one male and one female, who also accompanied them as they loved their masters.

They went to a forest, where there was a large blue lake, which in the day-time displayed the dazzling of growing lotus-beds; and at nights the liveliness of innumerable water lilies revealing their calyxes. All the ascetics decided to stay there and built as many huts as they can for themselves. There, they strictly hold on to their promises and performances and would meet only on every fifth day to listen to the conversations of the Bodhisatta. There lived a Yakkha, a monkey and an elephant in the same forest, who also joined the audience to listen to the conversations.

The maid servant still provided them with food. She collected the eatable lotus-stalks out of the lake and divided them in eight equal parts on the large lotus-leaves at a clean place on the lake shore. She would then strike the two pieces of sticks to announce that their food was ready to eat. She would then walk away silently. Each of the person would then come according to the supremacy and pick up his or her share and go back to the respective hut. Thus, they prevented to talk and interact with each other as an ascetic practice.

Their self-punishment won them great reputation. Sakka, the lord of the celestial beings also heard of their reputation and one day when the food was placed in eight places for the eight ascetics and the announcement of the same was made, he took the share of the Bodhisatta to examine the seriousness of his asceticism. When the Bodhisatta came and saw his share missing, he quietly went back to his hut to continue with his meditation. Others, however, came and went away with their shares without knowing that the Bodhisatta’s share was stolen. Sakka, in the same way, took away the Bodhisatta’s share repeatedly for the following four days.

On the fifth day, when all the ascetics assembled they noticed that the Bodhisatta looked really withered and his voice, too, was very weak. After a short inquiry it was revealed that he had to live without any food for five consecutive days as his food was stolen. All the ascetics then one by one pledged that the thief should go back to the house-hold life and become prosperous. No body showed any actions against anybody. The yaksa, the monkey and the elephant who came to listen to the conversation, also prayed for the benefit of the unknown thief.

The prayers and good wishes for the thief made Sakka feel embarrassed. He then appeared before them and bowed before the Bodhisatta to praise his merits and to admit his mistakes.




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