The Life of Buddha/Part Three/6. The Buddha Tames a Wild Buffalo
6. The Buddha Tames a Wild Buffalo
THE Master left Jeta's park. He stopped in the cities and in the villages to preach the law, and full many there were to adopt the true faith.
One day, an old man and his wife invited the Master to take his meal with them.
"My Lord," said the old man, "we have long been eager to hear your word. We are happy, now that we know the sacred truths, and among your friends you will find none more devout than we."
"I am not surprised," replied the Buddha, "for you and I were near relations in our former existences."
"Master," said the woman, "my husband and I have lived together since our early youth; we have now attained a ripe old age. Life has been kind to us. Never has the slightest quarrel come between us. We still love each other as in the days gone by, and the evening of our lives is as sweet as was the dawn. May it be granted us, my Lord, to love each other in our next existence as we have loved one another in this life."
"It will be granted," said the Master; "the Gods have protected you!"
He continued on his way. He saw an old woman drawing water from a well by the side of the road. He approached her.
"I am thirsty," said he. "Will you give me a drink?"
The old woman stared at him. She was deeply moved. She began to weep. She wanted to embrace the Master, but she was afraid. The tears coursed down her cheeks.
"Embrace me," said the Master.
The old woman ran to his arms, and she murmured:
"Now I can die happy. I have seen the Blessed One, and it was given me to embrace him."
He went on. He came to a vast forest where a herd of buffaloes lived with their keepers. One of these buffaloes was a very powerful animal. He had an ugly temper. He barely tolerated the presence of his keepers, and at the approach of a stranger he would become aggressive. When the stranger came near, he would attack him with his horns, and he would often wound him seriously. Sometimes he killed him.
The keepers saw the Blessed One walking along, quietly, and they shouted:
"Take care, traveller. Do not come near us. There is a vicious buffalo here."
But he paid no attention to the warning. He made straight for the spot where the buffalo was grazing.
All at once, the buffalo raised his head and sniffed noisily; then, lowering his horns, he rushed at the Master. The keepers trembled. "Our voices were not loud enough," they cried; "he did not hear us." But, suddenly, the animal stopped short; he knelt before the Master and began licking his feet. There was a look of pleading in his eyes.
The Master gently stroked the buffalo. He spoke to him in a quiet voice.
"Say to yourself that all earthly things are transitory, that peace is found only in nirvana. Do not weep. Believe in me, believe in my goodness, in my compassion, and your condition will change. You will not be reborn among the animals, and, in time, you will attain the sky and dwell among the Gods."
From that day, the buffalo was extremely docile. And the keepers, who had expressed their admiration for the Master and who had given him what alms they could afford, were instructed in the law, and they became known for their piety, even among the most pious.