Thursday, December 3, 2020


Devapala [Hindu Tales Retold]

Devapala [Hindu Tales Retold]

DEVAPALA was the servant of a rich merchant in India. No one ever heard of a better servant than he, so kind was Devapala, and so faithful. His work was to take his master's cows to graze by day, and to milk, feed, and care for them evening and morning. 

Most of the year this part of India was hot and dry; there were few trees to shade one from the burning sun. But when the rainy season came all this was changed. There were drops of rain in the sky, and the lightnings filled the heaven; the troops of long-tailed peacocks danced with joy; streams flowed where dust had been before, and the rumbling clouds, like great water jars, poured down the rain. 
Devapala [Hindu Tales Retold]
Devapala had taken his cows to graze and was returning home. On his way he came to a river swollen by the flood of rushing water and very hard to ford. On the other side of the river he saw floating an image of Jina. Now no good Hindu would let an image of Jina be tossed about in the rushing river, so Devapala waded over, pulled the image to land, and set it up under a pipal tree. Then as he went back he made a vow that he would not eat again until after he had worshiped the image. But it went right on raining, oh, ever so hard, - - so hard Devapala could not ford the river to worship the Jina. It never had rained so hard before. The great water jars in the sky were certainly turned upside down, and for seven days it did not stop. Seven days is a long time to wait for one's breakfast, but Devapala did not forget his vow. He would not eat one crumb until he had worshiped the image of Jina. On the seventh day the rain stopped at last. The sun shone out, and the water from the wet earth ran off down to the swollen river. 

At last Devapala could ford the river and go to the pipal tree, where the image was yet standing. He worshiped the good Jina as he had promised, and to his surprise the image spoke to him. 

"O Devapala," it seemed to say, "I am much pleased with such faithfulness. Go to sleep, and see what I shall do to repay you." 

So Devapala lay down and slept by the side of the image of Jina. 

Now on this very day and hour the King of the city died from cholera. As he had no son to be king in his place, the ministers said, 'We do not know who will be King. What can we do? Shall we let his elephant choose the next king?”

They all thought that would be the easiest way, so they brought out the King's favorite elephant, put on his finest crimson and gold trappings, and fastened the gold and silver head- piece on his head. Then they took a pitcher filled with water, tied it to the head of the elephant, and let him go. All the ministers ran along to see where he would go, and all the people ran along, too, to see on whom the King's elephant would spill the water. You may be sure there were many who tried to get in his way, and all tried to be very near him so that if the water spilled it might fall on them. What a pushing and jamming there was, with people swarming before and beside! But the grand old elephant held his gold-trimmed head high, and not one drop of water did he spill. 
Devapala [Hindu Tales Retold]
When the pushing crowd became too thick, up went his trunk, and oh, such a trumpeting! The people scattered then, and kept out of his way, for they saw he wanted no one of them. He walked on and on until he came to the pipal tree by the river. There, by the image of the good Jina, lay Devapala, fast asleep. The elephant bent his head, and poured all the water from the pitcher over the sleeping servant. 

The ministers were glad, and the people all shouted, ' ' Hurrah! Here is our King! Hurrah! “

The ministers took the splendid garments they had brought and dressed Devapala in them, put him on the King's own elephant, and brought him to the palace a King! 

Now the merchant was very cross indeed to lose such a good servant, and as he walked by that same river he came upon the old clothes Devapala had been wearing before the elephant found him. They were very different indeed from the clothes the King was now wearing. Really, they were dreadfully dirty and worn, for the merchant had given Devapala only rags to wear. 

Devapala [Hindu Tales Retold]

" Why should he become King?" said the merchant. ' He was a very good cowherd, and I wanted him for that. I think I '11 just show the people whom they have on their throne." 

So he took the dirty, ragged clothing and at night he nailed it up on the gate of the palace and wrote above it, in large letters, “Here are the real clothes of your King." 

In the morning as the people came flocking past the palace gate they saw the filthy rags there and read the writing above them. 

"Is it possible," they said to one another, "that our King were such dirty things as those?" 

"How disgusting! I wonder if the elephant didn't make seme mistake." 

"Are elephants really so wonderful after all, do you think?" 

Devapala [Hindu Tales Retold]

When the King heard what the people were saying, and saw how they felt, he was very sad. But when he went to worship the Jina (as he did each morning before breakfast), it said to him, "Go home, and make an elephant of clay. Set it up before the gate of the palace where all can see it. Then mount it, just as though it were alive. Feed it whole grain as you would a real elephant. Do as I tell you, and you need not fear." 

So Devapala the King went home and did just as the Jina told him to do. He made a mighty elephant of clay, and placed it before the palace gate. Then he mounted it and fed it whole grain, as though it were alive. All the people crowded around to see what Devapala the King would do with his clay elephant. 

"Oh, look," they cried, "he is feeding his clay elephant whole grain!" 

"Why, it's eating it!" 

"See! It is walking!" 

"It surely is alive!" 

Then the elephant raised his trunk, and trumpeted as no elephant ever had trumpeted before. 

The people all fell on their knees and cried, "He is our King, our wonderful King! We will love him and serve him always." 

Right by the pipal tree, close by the swollen river, Devapala the King built a beautiful temple, and in it set up the very image of the Jina which he had found. And every morning and every evening he went to it, bearing sweet-smelling things -- camphor, sandalwood, and fragrant flowers. 

Devapala [Hindu Tales Retold]