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Buddhist Tales for Young and Old (Volume 1) Illustrated

Buddhist Tales for Young and Old (Volume 1) Illustrated

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Published by pharuehut

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Published by: pharuehut on Nov 09, 2008
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10/25/2012

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Once upon a time, the King of

Benares had a gardener who looked after
his pleasure garden. Animals sometimes
came into the garden from the nearby forest.
The gardener complained about this to the king, who said,
“If you see any strange animal, tell me at once.”
One day, he saw a strange kind of deer at the far
end of the garden. When he saw the man, he ran like the
wind. That is why they are called ‘wind-deer’. They are a
rare breed, that are extremely timid. They are very easily
frightened by human beings.
The gardener told the king about the wind-deer.
He asked the gardener if he could catch the rare animal.
He replied, “My lord, if you give me some bee’s honey,
I could even bring him into the palace!” So the king
ordered that he be given as much bee’s honey as he
wanted.

This particular wind-deer loved to eat the flowers
and fruits in the king’s pleasure garden. The gardener let
himself be seen by him little by little, so he would be less
frightened. Then he began to smear honey on the grass

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where the wind-deer usually came to eat. Sure enough,
the deer began eating the honey-smeared grass. Soon he
developed a craving for the taste of this ‘honey-grass’.
The craving made him come to the garden every day.
Before long, he would eat nothing else!
Little by little, the gardener came closer and
closer to the wind-deer. At first, he would run away.
But later, he lost his fear and came to think the man
was harmless. As the gardener became more and more
friendly, eventually he got the deer to eat the honey-
grass right out of his hand. He continued doing this for
some time, in order to build up his confidence and trust.

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Meanwhile, the gardener had rows of curtains
set up, making a wide pathway from the far end of the
pleasure garden to the king’s palace. From inside this
pathway, the curtains would keep the wind-deer from
seeing any people that might scare him.
When all was prepared, the gardener took a bag
of grass and a container of honey with him. Again he
began hand-feeding the wind-deer when he appeared.
Gradually, he led the wind-deer into the curtained off
pathway. Slowly, he continued to lead him with the
honey-grass, until finally the deer followed him right
into the palace. Once inside, the palace guards closed
the doors, and the wind-deer was trapped. Seeing
the people of the court, he suddenly became very
frightened and began running around, madly trying to
escape.

The king came down to the hall and saw the
panic-stricken wind-deer. He said, “What a wind-deer!
How could he have gotten into such a state? A wind-
deer is an animal who will not return to a place where
he has so much as seen a human, for seven full days.
Ordinarily, if a wind-deer is at all frightened in a
particular place, he will not return for the whole rest of
his life! But look! Even such a shy wild creature can
be enslaved by his craving for the taste of something
sweet. Then he can be lured into the centre of the city
and even inside the palace itself.

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“My friends, the teachers warn us not to be too
attached to the place we live, for all things pass away.
They say that being too attached to a small circle of
friends is confining and restricts a broad outlook. But
see how much more dangerous is the simple craving for
a sweet flavour, or any other taste sensation. See how
this beautiful shy animal was trapped by my gardener,
by taking advantage of his craving for taste.”
Not wishing to harm the gentle wind-deer, the
king had him released into the forest. He never returned
to the royal pleasure garden, and he never missed the
taste of honey-grass.

The moral is: “It is better to eat to live, than to
live to eat.”

78

15
The Fawn Who Played Hooky

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