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The Noble Stag
As we all know, King Brahmadutta of Benaras was
extremely fond of hunting. Luckily for him, on
the outskirts of the city was a huge forest
filled with deer and a mighty stag.
One fine day, when he was out hunting, he warned
his courtiers not to allow a single deer to
escape or he would have them severely punished.
So the courtiers formed a tight circle and
decided to send the deer in the direction of the
King. The courtiers surrounded a thicket and
beat their sticks on the ground until they saw a
stag escape. But as their circle was so tight
the only escape route that the stag could see
was towards the King who was standing alone at
the end of the path.
So the stag looked him straight in the eye and
made a dash towards him. The King was taken
aback and shot an arrow towards him hurriedly.
Of course it missed the mark. Now there is one
thing that you must know about the stag. It has
excellent instincts and is extremely good at
dodging arrows, whether shot at from the back,
front or even the top. If an arrow is aimed at
its belly, it pretends to roll over and then
jumps up and runs once the danger has passed.
So when this stag rolled over the King assumed
that his arrow had found its mark. But the stag
suddenly jumped up and shot passed the men. When
the courtiers realized that the King had been
mistaken they started to ridicule him.
Now the King thought himself to be an excellent
marksman and could not bear the taunts of his
men. He grabbed his sword and set off into the
forest in order to catch the stag. He chased the
stag for quite a while and covered a long
The stag came upon a hole in the ground that was
covered by a rotting tree and filled with slime.
From a distance it could smell the dirty water
and so was careful not to run over it. But the
King could not sense the pit and fell right into
it. After awhile the stag realized that he was
not being followed any longer and realized that
the King could have fallen into the pit.
So he went back to the pit and saw the King
struggling for his life. He felt very sorry for
him and decided to save his life even though the
King was following him with the intention to
kill him. He told the King not to worry and to
be brave for awhile longer. He then caught a
huge rock with his hind legs and lowered himself
into the pit. The King caught hold of his neck
and the stag climbed out onto the level ground
and carried the King to safety.
The King thanked the noble stag profusely and
asked him to return with him to Benaras, where
he could rule beside him. But the stag had no
interest in a kingdom and simply requested the
king to rule his kingdom wisely and well, with
kindness and compassion. And then the noble stag
disappeared into the forest.
With a grateful heart the King returned to
Benaras and announced that from this day on all
his subjects were to live a life of goodness,
kindness and generosity. That night he went to
bed a changed man and woke up singing praises of
the stag. When he was chanting the hymn in
praise of the stag, his priest was approaching
to check on the King's well being. On hearing
the hymn, he pieced the facts together and
realized that the King had been saved by the
He entered the King's chamber and told him what
had occurred on the previous day. The King was
surprised and asked the priest whether he could
read minds, but the priest answered that as he
had heard the King singing he had managed to
piece the facts together. The King was very
impressed and gave him a big reward. He also
promised to live a virtuous and generous life
and give alms regularly to the poor. All his
subjects also followed this good example set by
the King and the city of Benaras witnessed a
All of a sudden there was an influx of good
souls in heaven. Sakka, the King of heaven began
to wonder where all these new sons and daughters
were coming from. He then recalled the incident
when King Brahmadutta's life was transformed by
the stag and realized that all his subjects had
been transformed too. That explained the influx
of good souls in heaven. Sakka now decided to
test the goodness of the King. So he made
himself invisible and came down to earth.
On that very morning the King was in the royal
park with his priest and was doing his routine
target practice. Just as the King was about to
shoot the target, Sakka made a stag appear
before the target and the King immediately put
his bow and arrow down. Then Sakka spoke through
the priest and encouraged the King to shoot the
stag saying that his meat was very tasty and fit
for the kings.
But the virtuous King refused to kill the stag
saying that he had once saved his life and he
would not perform such a dastardly deed. And
then the priest said that if the King were to
kill the stag he would be made king of gods. But
if he did not do so, he would be sent to hell
along with all his children and his queen.
But the virtuous King chose hell and sure death
over hurting the beloved friend who had saved
his life. Sakka was highly impressed and
appeared in his real form to bless the King. He
blessed him with a long life and happiness and
promised him that when he came to heaven he
would reign among the gods.
He said that after a long and wonderful rule on
earth, heaven would be his final reward. Saying
this, Sakka returned to his heavenly abode.