Wind-deer and the Honey-grass
[The Craving for Taste]
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.
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
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 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
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.
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 center
of the city and even inside the palace itself.
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."
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.
moral is: "It is better to eat to live,
than to live to eat."