Friday, June 24, 2011

The king and the Sal tree

In ancient India, there lived a king named Brahmadatta. He had a wonderful royal park where there were many types of trees. He loved to see how the trees grew and how birds and beasts lived in the park. But he was not quite happy about his own royal palace.
So he thought to himself: "All kings I have visited live in palaces supported by many pillars. But I want to be different from them. I want to build a palace supported on one single pillar. And that single pillar should be a good one. He summoned his royal wise man and builders."
He said, "Make me a palace supported by one single pillar made of a trunk of a tree."
They nodded their heads and agreed to go in search of a tree that suits the pillar.
When they were looking for a suitable tree, they found a magnificent Sal tree. It was straight and tall. The branches were spreading. But at the same time, they knew that this is one tree which is venerated by people of the kingdom.

"Let us inform about this tree," said the wise man.
"Oh how good of you to have got the right tree," said the king. "That's the type of tree I want. Go cut it down." When the wise man and the royal courtiers went up to the tree to make necessary arrangements to cut the Sal tree, they heard a voice: "What are you trying to do?"
"The king wants us to cut this tree to make a single pillar palace. But we will do the right kind to rituals before cutting it down."
"What about the creatures living in the tree?" Came the voice.
"Let them find another suitable living abode. It's the king's request which we abide by." That was the voice of the chief tree spirit who lived in the tree.
"They are going to destroy me as well as others in the tree." Thought the tree spirit. "Gradually the other Sal trees will also be destroyed."
The king has misunderstood his mission. I must convince him. I must do what I can to save the life of the great Sal tree and those who live in it. As the day drew on to the middle of the night the chief tree spirit visited the royal chamber.
The chief tree spirit adorned with his godly ornaments and scents appeared before the king. The king woke up and saw what's happening before his eyes. The king saw the charming, but wailing face of the tree spirit. "Who are you, tell me?" Asked the king.
"I'm the tree spirit living in the Sal tree of your royal park. You have been wrongly advised by someone to cut down that noble Sal tree venerated by many in your kingdom. By the act you will bring disaster not only to yourself but to those creatures living there."
"Please clarify more," requested the king.
"Cutting down that Sal tree means an evil act of killing. You are killing me and other subordinate spirits around. This evil act will result in more evil acts, which you have to pay. We live in peace and harmony. Let us enjoy that nature. If my ancient and pure abode has to fall, much harm would come to one and all. So save the Sal tree in its splendour and wonder."
Then the king stood up and said, "I am pleased to see a celestial being talking to me in this manner. I see your divine nature and your love towards the others in the royal park. I will not allow my men to cut down the noble Sal tree. Take my words."
The chief tree spirit thanked the king and went away. The king summoned his wise man and the other courtiers. "Listen to me. I have abandoned the idea of cutting down that Sal tree. I instruct you not to disturb the growth of the trees in my kingdom."
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