Wicked Lady and the Buttermilk Wise Man
a time, a very rich man was living in Benares, in northern India.
He had a daughter who was one of the most beautiful women in the
city. Her skin was as soft as rose petals, her complexion was like
lotus blossoms, and her hair was as black as midnight. But unfortunately
her beauty was only skin deep. For, on the inside, she was very
cruel. She insulted her servants and even enjoyed beating them.
She became known as the 'Wicked Lady'.
day she went down to the river for her bath. While she bathed, her
servant girls played and splashed in the water. Suddenly it became
dark and a heavy rainstorm came upon them. Most of the attendants
and guards ran away. The servant girls said to each other, "This
would be a perfect time to get rid of the Wicked Lady once and for
all! So they deserted her there, still bathing in midstream. The
storm became more and more terrible as the sun set.
the servant girls arrived home without the Wicked Lady, the rich
man asked them, "Where is my precious daughter?" They
replied, "We saw her coming out of the river, but since then
we haven't seen her. We don't know where she went." The rich
man sent out relatives to search for her, but she was nowhere to
be found. Meanwhile the Wicked Lady had been swept downstream by
the ferocious flooded river.
just so happened to be a holy man living in the forest next to the
river. In this peaceful area he had been meditating for a long time,
until he had come to enjoy the inner happiness of a high mental
state. Because of this happiness, he was quite sure he had left
the ordinary desires of the world behind.
about midnight the Wicked Lady was carried past the holy man's hut
by the raging river. She was crying out and screaming for help.
When he heard her, the holy man realised a woman was in danger.
So he took a torch down to the river and saw her being swept along.
He dived in and saved her. He comforted her, saying, "Don't
worry, I'll look after you."
carried her into his hut and made a fire to dry her off and warm
her up. He gave her fruits to eat. When she had eaten her fill,
he asked, "Where do you live? How did you fall in the river?"
She told him about the storm and how her servants deserted her.
He took pity on her and let her sleep in his hut for the next couple
of nights. He himself slept under the stars.
she had recovered her strength, he told her it was time to return
home. But she knew that he was the type of holy man who promised
never to live with a woman, as husband and wife. That was why he
had slept outside while she slept in the hut.
to prove her own power and superiority over him, she decided to
seduce him into breaking his religious promise. She refused to leave
until she had tricked him into falling in love with her.
Wicked Lady used the poses and tricks and flatteries that women
learn. The holy man was not yet strong enough to resist her tempting
ways. After a few days she succeeded in seducing him into breaking
his promise. They began living together in the quiet forest as if
they were husband and wife. He lost the inner happiness he had gained
by years of meditating.
soon the Wicked Lady grew bored with forest life. She missed the
noise and excitement of crowded city life. So she cooed and coaxed
until she got her way, and they moved to a nearby village.
the beginning, the holy man supported her by selling buttermilk.
Later on, the villagers came and asked him for advice. They soon
realised that listening to him brought good fortune. So they started
calling him 'the Buttermilk Wise Man', and gave him a hut to live
one day a gang of bandits attacked the village. They robbed all
the valuables and kidnapped some of the villagers, including the
Wicked Lady. When they got to their forest hide-out they divided
up the loot. When they began dividing up the prisoners, the bandit
chief was attracted by the Wicked Lady's great beauty. So he took
her for himself as a wife.
the other prisoners were soon released. When they returned to the
village, the Buttermilk Wise Man asked what happened to his wife.
They told him she had been kept as wife by the bandit chief. He
thought, "She will never be able to live without me. She will
find a way to escape and come back to me." Deciding the village
was now unlucky, all the others left it. But the Buttermilk Wise
Man remained in his hut, convinced that his wife would return.
and behold, the Wicked Lady enjoyed the exciting life of bandits.
But she worried that her husband would come and take her back. She
thought, "Then I would lose all my newfound luxuries. I would
be safer if I got rid of him. Therefore, I will send him a letter,
pretending to be deeply in love with him. Just as before I will
use my power of seduction to cause his downfall. But this time he
will meet his death, and I will remain the bandit queen!"
the Buttermilk Wise Man received the letter he believed every word.
He rushed into the forest and ran to the gang's hide-out. When he
called out to her, the Wicked Lady came out and said, "Oh my
lord and master, I'm so happy to see you. I can hardly wait to escape
with you. But now is not a good time. The bandit chief could easily
follow us and kill us both. So let us wait until nightfall."
She took him inside, fed him, and hid him in a closet.
the chief returned in the evening he was drunk. The Wicked Lady
asked him, "My lord and chief, if you saw my former husband
now, what would you do?" "I would beat him up and kick
him from one side of the room to the other!" he bragged, "Where
is he now?" "He is much closer than you think," she
said, "In fact, he is right here in this closet!"
opened the door and dragged out the Buttermilk Wise Man. He proceeded
to beat him up and kick him around the room, just as he had boasted.
His poor victim did not cry out. He only muttered "Ungrateful
hater, Lying traitor."
was all he said. It seemed he was finally learning a lesson
but so painfully!
the drunken bandit got tired of beating him. He tied him up, ate
dinner, and passed out into drunken sleep.
next morning, after sleeping off his drunkenness, the bandit chief
woke up sober. He began beating and kicking his tied up victim again.
Still the Buttermilk Wise Man did not cry out, but kept on muttering
hater, Lying traitor."
bandit thought, "While I keep punishing this man, why does
he keep saying the same thing over and over?" Seeing that his
wife was still fast asleep, he asked him what he meant.
Buttermilk Wise Man replied, "Listen and I will tell. I was
a forest holy man, peacefully enjoying a high state of mind. One
night I heard this woman crying out as she was being swept down
river in a storm. I saved her life and brought her back to health.
Meanwhile she seduced me and I lost all my inner calm and happiness.
We went to live in a village and I led a very ordinary life. Then
you kidnapped her. She sent me a letter saying she suffered living
with you, and begged me to rescue her. So you see she enticed
me into this disaster. She put me at your mercy. That is why I say:
hater, Lying traitor."
bandit chief was not stupid. He thought, "This man was such
a good provider, and yet she has put him in this plight. What would
she be capable of doing to me? It would be better to finish her
untied the Buttermilk Wise Man and comforted him, saying, "Don't
worry, I'll look after you." He awakened the Wicked Lady and
said, "My darling, let us kill this man right next to his own
village." He took them to the boundary of the deserted village.
He told her to hold her former husband. Then he raised his mighty
sword and came down with it. But at the last instant he sliced the
Wicked Lady in half!
someone as wicked as this murderous bandit can change his ways.
He began by nursing his former rival back to health. After a few
days of rest he asked, "What are you going to do now?"
wise man replied, "I don't want to live as householder anymore.
I want to return to my old forest and meditate."
bandit said, "I too would like to be ordained and learn to
meditate in the forest." After giving up all his stolen goods,
he went and lived in the forest with the Buttermilk Wise Man as
his teacher. After much effort, they both attained a high state
of inner happiness.
moral is: Seduction can be dangerous to men
and women both.