25 May 2022

#23. Ṛkṣa

2 min read

Cave No. 17

Identification: episode 2 by Lalou (1925, p. 335 f.);

other episodes Schlingloff 2013 (?)—A poor woodcutter was caught in a storm while on his way to work. Shivering with cold, he took refuge in a mountain cave, where he came across a bear. He was terrified, but was soothed by the bear, who gave him warmth and food to sustain himself during the week-long tempest. The woodcutter thanked him. The bear just requested him not to betray him. On his way back, the woodcutter met a hunter friend and shared his experience with him. The hunter coaxed him to disclose the whereabouts of the bear, and promised him double the share of his bear-meat. The woodcutter, hesitant at first, ultimately gave into temptation and took him to the cave. The hunter burned a big fire in front of the cave. The bear perished in the smoke. The hunters then cut the meat into their respective shares. As the traitor was about to take his share, his hands fell off, seeing which the hunter ran in alarm. Reports of the incidence reached the king. A Buddhist monk recognised the bear as a Bodhisattva. The king cremated the bear on a pyre of precious wood. A stūpa was also erected.

—Source: Singh 2019, 31-33; Schlingloff 2013, I, 114

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