Gateway to the Classics: Eastern Stories and Legends by Marie L. Shedlock
Eastern Stories and Legends by  Marie L. Shedlock

The Bull That Demanded Fair Treatment

L ONG ago the Bodisat came to life as a Bull.

Now, when he was yet a young calf, a certain Brahmin, after attending upon some devotees who were wont to give oxen to priests, received the bull. And he called it Nandi Visala, and grew very fond of it, treating it like a son, and feeding it on gruel and rice.

When the Bodisat grew up, he said to himself: "This Brahmin has brought me up with great care; and there's no other ox in all the continent of India can drag the weight I can. What if I were to let the Brahmin know about my strength, and so in my turn provide sustenance for him!"

And he said one day to the Brahmin: "Do you go now, Brahmin, to some Squire rich in cattle, and offer to bet him a thousand that your ox will move a hundred laden carts."

The Brahmin went to a rich farmer, and started a conversation thus:

"Whose bullocks hereabout do you think the strongest?"

"Such and such a man's," said the farmer, and then added: "But, of course, there are none in the whole country-side to touch my own!"

"I have one ox," said the Brahmin, "who is good to move a hundred carts, loads and all!"

"Tush!" said the Squire. "Where in the world is such an ox?"

"Just in my house!" said the Brahmin.

"Then make a bet about it!"

"All right! I bet you a thousand he can."

So the bet was made. And he filled a hundred carts (small wagons made for two bullocks) with sand and gravel and stones, ranged them all in a row, and tied them all firmly together, cross-bar to axle-tree.

Then he bathed Nandi Visala, gave him a measure of scented rice, hung a garland round his neck, and yoked him by himself to the front cart. Then he took his seat on the pole, raised his goad aloft, and called out: "Gee up! you brute!! Drag 'em along, you wretch!!"

The Bodisat said to himself: "He addresses me as a wretch. I am no wretch!" And, keeping his four legs as firm as so many posts, he stood perfectly still.

Then the Squire that moment claimed his bet, and made the Brahmin hand over the thousand pieces. And the Brahmin, minus his thousand, took out his ox, went home to his house, and lay down overwhelmed with grief.

Presently Nandi Visala, who was roaming about the place, came up and saw the Brahmin grieving there, and said to him: "What, Brahmin! Are you asleep?"

"Sleep! How can I sleep after losing the thousand pieces?"

"Brahmin! I've lived so long in your house, and have I ever broken any pots, or rubbed up against the walls?"

"Never, my dear!"

"Then why did you call me a wretch? It's your fault. It's not my fault. Go now and bet him two thousand; and never call me a wretch again—I, who am no wretch at all!"

When the Brahmin heard what he said, he made the bet two thousand, tied the carts together as before, decked out Nandi Visala, and yoked him to the foremost cart.

He managed this in the following way: he tied the pole and the cross-piece fast together, yoked Nandi Visala on one side; on the other he fixed a smooth piece of timber from the point of the yoke to the axle-end, and wrapping it round with the fastenings of the cross-piece, tied it fast, so that when this was done the yoke could not move this way and that way, and it was possible for one ox to drag forwards the double bullock-cart.

Then the Brahmin seated himself on the pole, stroked Nandi Visala on the back, and called out: "Gee up! my beauty!! Drag it along, my beauty!!"

And the Bodisat, with one mighty effort, dragged forwards the hundred heavily-laden carts, and brought the hindmost one up to the place where the foremost one had stood.

Then the cattle-owner acknowledged himself beaten, and handed over to the Brahmin the two thousand; the bystanders, too, presented the Bodisat with a large sum, and the whole became the property of the Brahmin. Thus, by means of the Bodisat, great was the wealth he acquired.

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