Dog King Silver
time, the King of Benares went to his pleasure garden in his fancy
decorated chariot. He loved this chariot, mostly because of the
rich hand-worked leather belts and straps.
On this occasion,
he stayed in his pleasure garden all day long and into the evening.
It was late when he finally got back to the palace. So the chariot
was left outside in the compound all night, instead of being locked
night it rained heavily, and the leather got wet, swelled up,
became soft, and gave off an odour. The pampered palace dogs smelled
the delicious leather scent and came down into the compound. They
chewed off and devoured the soft wet chariot straps. Before daybreak,
they returned unseen to their places in the palace.
When the king
woke up and came down, he saw that the leather had been chewed
off and eaten by dogs. He called the servants and demanded to
know how this happened.
were supposed to watch the palace dogs, the servants were afraid
to blame them. Instead, they made up a story that stray dogs,
the mutts and mongrels of the city, had come into the grounds
through sewers and storm drains. They were the ones who had eaten
the fancy leather.
The king flew
into a terrible rage. He was so overcome by anger that he decided
to take vengeance against all dogs. So he decreed that whenever
anyone in the city saw a dog, he was to kill him or her at once!
began killing dogs. The dogs could not understand why suddenly
they were being killed. Later that day, they learned of the king's
decree. They became very frightened and retreated to the cemetery
just outside the city. This was where their leader lived, the
Dog King Silver.
king not because he was the biggest or strongest or toughest.
He was average in size, with sleek silver fur, sparkling black
eyes and alert pointed ears. He walked with great dignity, that
brought admiration and respect from men as well as dogs. In his
long life he had learned much, and was able to concentrate his
mind on what is most important. So he became the wisest of all
the dogs, as well as the one who cared most for the others. Those
were the reasons he was king of the dogs.
In the cemetery,
the dogs were in a panic. They were frightened to death. The Dog
King Silver asked them why this was. They told him all about the
chariot straps and the king's decree, and the people killing them
whenever they saw them.
knew there was no way to get into the well-guarded palace grounds.
So he understood that the leather must have been eaten by the
dogs living inside the palace.
"We dogs know that, no matter how different we may appear,
somehow we are all related. So now I must make my greatest effort
to save the lives of all these poor dogs, my relatives. There
is no one to save them but me."
them by saying, "Do not be afraid. I will save you all. Stay
here in the cemetery and don't go into the city. I will tell the
King of Benares who are the thieves and who are the innocent.
The truth will save us all."
out, he went to a different part of the cemetery to be alone.
Having practiced goodness all his life, and trained his mind,
he now concentrated very hard and filled his mind with feelings
of loving-kindness. He thought, "May all dogs be well and
happy, and may all dogs be safe. I go to the palace for the sake
of dogs and men alike. No one shall attack or harm me."
Then the Dog
King Silver began walking slowly through the streets of Benares.
Because his mind was focused, he had no fear. Because of his long
life of goodness, he walked with a calm dignity that demanded
respect. And because of the warm glow of loving-kindness that
all the people sensed, no one felt the rising of anger or any
intention to harm him. Instead, they marvelled as the Great Being
passed, and wondered how it could be so!
It was as
if the whole city were entranced. With no obstruction, the Dog
King Silver walked right past the palace guards, into the royal
hall of justice, and sat down calmly underneath the king's throne
itself! The King of Benares was impressed by such courage and
dignity. So when servants came to remove the dog, he ordered them
to let him remain.
Then the Dog
King Silver came out from under the throne and faced the mighty
King of Benares. He bowed respectfully and asked, "Your majesty,
was it you who ordered that all the dogs of the city should be
killed?" "It was I," replied the king. "What
crime did the dogs commit?" asked the dog king. "Dogs
ate my rich beautiful chariot leather and straps." "Do
you know which dogs did this?" asked King Silver. "No
one knows," said the King of Benares.
lord," said the dog, "for a king such as you, who wishes
to be righteous, is it right to have all dogs killed in the place
of the few guilty ones? Does this do justice to the innocent ones?"
The king replied, as if it made perfect sense to him, "Since
I do not know which dogs destroyed my leather, only by ordering
the killing of all dogs can I be sure of punishing the guilty.
The king must have justice!"
The Dog King
Silver paused for a moment, before challenging the king with the
crucial question - "My lord king, is it a fact that you have
ordered all dogs to be killed, or are there some who are not to
be killed?" The king suddenly became a little uneasy as he
was forced to admit, before his whole court, "It is true
that most dogs are to be killed, but not all. The fine pure-breeds
of my palace are to be spared."
Then the dog
king said, "My lord, before you said that all dogs were to
be killed, in order to insure that the guilty would be punished.
Now you say that your own palace dogs are to be spared. This shows
that you have gone wrong in the way of prejudice. For a king who
wishes to be righteous, it is wrong to favor some over others.
The king's justice must be unbiased, like an honest scale. Although
you have decreed an impartial death to all dogs, in fact this
is only the slaughter of poor dogs. Your rich palace dogs are
unjustly saved, while the poor are wrongly killed!"
the truth of the dog king's words, the King of Benares asked,
"Are you wise enough to know which dogs ate my leather straps
and belts?" "Yes my lord, I do know," said he,
"it could only be your own favorite palace dogs, and I can
prove it." "Do so," said the king.
The dog king
asked to have the palace pets brought into the hall of justice.
He asked for a mixture of buttermilk and grass, and for the dogs
to be made to eat it. Lo and behold, when this was done they vomited
up partly digested pieces of the king's leather straps!
Then the Dog
King Silver said, "My lord, no poor dogs from the city can
enter the well-guarded palace compound. You were blinded by prejudice.
It is your dogs who are the guilty ones. Nevertheless, to kill
any living being is an unwholesome thing to do. This is because
of what we dogs know, but men do not seem to know - that somehow
all life is related, so all living beings deserve the same respect
court was amazed by what had just taken place. The King of Benares
was suddenly overcome by a rare feeling of humility. He bowed
before the dog king and said, "Oh great king of dogs, I have
never seen anyone such as you, one who combines perfect wisdom
with great compassion. Truly, your justice is supreme. I offer
my throne and the kingdom of Benares to you!"
Being replied, "Arise my lord, I have no desire for a human
crown. If you wish to show your respect for me, you should be
a just and merciful ruler. It would help if you begin to purify
your mind by practising the 'Five Training Steps'. These are to
give up entirely the five unwholesome actions: destroying life,
taking what is not given, sexual wrong-doing, speaking falsely,
The king followed
the teachings of the wise dog king. He ruled with great respect
for all living beings. He ordered that whenever he ate, all dogs,
those of the palace and those of the city, were to be fed as well.
This was the beginning of the faithfulness between dogs and men
that has lasted to this day.
moral is: Prejudice leads to injustice,
wisdom leads to justice.