20 May 2022

#13. Haṃsa

2 min read

Cave No. 2

Identification: Oldenburg (1895, narrative no. 1).—

A king of the geese (haṃsas) lived on the shores of a lake in the Himalayas with his general and a huge flock of geese. Sages and commoners alike admired their beauty and wisdom, which even became a topic in the assemblies of kings. On hearing this, the king of Banaras made a beautiful lotus pond to lure them. In a moonlit night, some geese flew to the pond. They returned home in the rainy season and told the others about the fabulous pond. Soon enough, the entire flock set off for Banaras despite warnings from the general. The palace guards informed the king about the two beautiful leading geese. The king gave orders to trap them and the goose king was caught in a snare. The goose king warned his flock to fly away. All flew away except the general, who remained with his king even as he saw the fowler approaching. This moved the fowler, who freed the goose king and related the story to the king. The general told him to take them to the king, who treated them with awed respect and offered a seat near him. The king asked the goose king to instruct him about the virtues of a just ruler and loyalty. Subsequently, he freed both of them.—The goose king was none other than the Buddha in a former existence.

—Source: Singh 2019, 31-33; Schlingloff 2013, I, 81

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