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Chapter 116

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection is cited the following history ofolden times. That history is regarded as a high precedent amongst goodand wise men. That history has connection with the present topic. I heardit in the hermitage of Rama, the son of Jamadagni, recited by manyforemost of Rishis. In a certain large forest uninhabited by humanbeings, there lived an ascetic upon fruit and roots observing rigid vows,and with his senses under control. Observant also of stringentregulations and self-restraint, of tranquil and pure soul, alwaysattentive to Vedic recitations, and of heart cleansed by fasts, headopted a life of goodness towards all creatures. Possessed of greatintelligence, as he sat on his seat, the goodness of his behaviour havingbeen known to all the creatures that lived in that forest, they used toapproach him with affection. Fierce lions and tigers, infuriatedelephants of huge size, leopards, rhinoceroses, bears, and other animalsof fierce aspect, subsisting upon blood, used to come to the Rishi andaddress him the usual questions of polite enquiry. Indeed, all of thembehaved towards him like disciples and slaves and always did unto himwhat was agreeable. Coming to him they addressed the usual enquiries, andthen went away to their respective quarters. One domestic animal,however, lived there permanently, never leaving the Muni at any time. Hewas devoted to the sage and exceedingly attached to him. Weak andemaciated with fasts, he subsisted upon fruit and roots and water, andwas tranquil and Of inoffensive aspect. Lying at the feet of thathigh-souled Rishi as the latter sat, the dog, with a heart like that of ahuman being, became exceedingly attached to him in consequence of theaffection with which he was treated. One day a leopard of great strengthcame there, subsisting upon blood. Of a cruel disposition and alwaysfilled with delight at the prospect of prey, the fierce animal lookedlike a second Yama. Licking the corners of his mouth With the tongue, andlashing his tail furiously, the leopard came there, hungry and thirsty,with wide open jaws, desirous of seizing the dog as his prey. Beholdingthat fierce beast coming, O king, the dog, in fear of his life, addressedthe Muni in these words. Listen unto them, O monarch! ‘O holy one, thisleopard is a foe of the dogs. It wishes to slay me. O great sage, do thouact in such a way that all my fears from this animal may be dispelledthrough thy grace. O thou of mighty arms, without doubt thou artpossessed of omniscience.’ Acquainted with the thoughts of all creatures,the sage felt that the dog had ample cause for fear. Possessed of the sixattributes and capable of reading the voices of all animals, the sagesaid the following words.’

“The sage said, ‘Thou shalt have no fear of death from leopards anylonger. Let thy natural form disappear and be thou a leopard, O son!’ Atthese words, the dog was transformed into a leopard with skin bright asgold. With stripes on his body and with large teeth, thenceforth he beganto live in that forest fearlessly. Meanwhile, the leopard, seeing beforehim an animal of his own species, immediately forsook all feelings ofanimosity towards it. Some time after, there came into the hermitage afierce and hungry tiger with open mouth. Licking the corners of his mouthwith the tongue, and eagerly desirous of drinking blood, that tiger beganto approach towards the animal that had been transformed into a leopard.Beholding the hungry tiger of terrible teeth approach that forest, the(transformed) leopard sought the Rishi’s protection for saving his life.The sage, who showed great affection for the leopard in consequence ofthe latter’s living in the same place with him, forthwith transformed hisleopard into a tiger powerful for all foes. The tiger seeing a beast ofhis own species did him no injury, O king. The dog, having in course oftime been transformed into a powerful tiger subsisting upon flesh andblood, abstained from his former food which had consisted of fruit androots. Indeed, from that time, O monarch, the transformed tiger lived,subsisting upon the other animals of the forest, like a true king ofbeasts.’

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