Out of compassion and gratitude, King Banyan Deer the Enlightenment Being, taught the King of Benares. He advised him to climb the five steps of training, in order to purify his mind. He described them by saying, “It will benefit you, if you give up the five unwholesome actions. These are:
- Destroying life, for this is not compassion;
- Taking what is not given, for this is not generosity;
- Doing wrong in sexual ways, for this is not loving-kindness;
- Speaking falsely, for this is not Truth;
- Losing your mind from alcohol, for this leads to falling down the first four steps."
He further advised him to do wholesome actions, that would bring happiness in this life and beyond. Then King Banyan Deer, and both herds, returned to the forest.
In the fullness of time, the pregnant doe, who had stayed with Banyan’s herd, gave birth to a fawn. He was as beautiful as a lotus blossom given as an offering to the gods.
When the fawn had grown into a young buck deer, he began playing with Branch Deer’s herd. Seeing this, his mother said to him, “Better to die after a short life with the great compassionate one, than to live a long life with an ordinary one." Afterwards, her son lived happily in the herd of King Banyan Deer.
The only ones left unhappy were the farmers and villagers of the kingdom. For, given total immunity by the king, the deer began to fearlessly eat the people’s crops. They even grazed in the vegetable gardens inside the villages and the city of Benares itself!
So the people complained to the king, and asked permission to kill at least some of the deer as a warning. But the king said, “I myself promised complete immunity to King Banyan Deer. I would give up the kingship before I would break my word to him. No one may harm a deer!"
When King Banyan Deer heard of this, he said to all the deer, “You should not eat the crops that belong to others." And he sent a message to the people. Instead of making fences, he asked them to tie up bunches of leaves as boundaries around their fields. This began the Indian custom of marking fields with tied up leaves, which have protected them from deer to this very day.
Both King Banyan Deer and the King of Benares lived out their lives in peace, died, and were reborn as they deserved.
The moral is: Wherever it is found, compassion is a sign of greatness.
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