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The Wind Antelope

It was indeed a very warm day. Trrchk! Trrrck! Trrrchk! Sanjaya, the palace gardener slashed at the grass in the royal park. The trees and bushes were neatly pruned. The twigs lay in bundles ready to be carted away. The garden was being prepared for Brahmadatta, the king. Sanjaya stopped to rest and wipe his sweatladen brow. He thought he heard an unfamiliar rustle near the bushes behind him. Sanjaya was no ordinary gardener. He knew not only about plants but also was familiar with animals and birds that frequented the park. He turned gently around to see a pair of beautiful black eyes and majestic antlers between the branches of a bush. It was a rare sight. The most timid of all forest creatures, the Wind Antelope was nibbling on the uncut grass. Noticing the man looking at it, the fearful antelope darted away into the adjoining dense forest.

The next week the antelope appeared again in the park to chew on the luscious grass. This time King Brahmadatta, who was viewing his garden from the balcony, saw the antelope. He sent his attendant to fetch Sanjaya, the gardener. The King asked, “Oh Sanjaya, have you seen any new animals in the park?” Sanjaya bent low as he replied. Your Highness, a Wind Antelope has been seen chewing on the grass.” The King continued, “ I have heard that very few have seen this creature. Do you think you can capture him to add in my menagerie?” Sanjaya replied, “Leave it up to me your majesty. All I need is some honey.”

The next day Sanjaya sprinkled some honey in the area that the antelope generally visited. At the usual time, when the sun had risen above the horizon, the antelope made his way to the park. Sanjaya hid behind a big tree and watched the antelope sniff at the grass. The odor was certainly unfamiliar. He stuck his tongue to check the flavor. It tasted so much better. Having finished the honeyed patch he began to look for more. Not finding any he returned to his forest home. So happy was the antelope that he visited King Brahmadatta’s park everyday. Pretty soon he began to accept the distant presence of man in the form of the gardener.

One fateful day, Sanjaya made a light trail of honey on the grass all the way to the palace. This time he hid himself very far away. He had already arranged for the King’s men to capture the animal. The antelope as usual came to his favorite spot. He was very hungry that day. He chewed away gloriously. He moved closer and closer to the palace following the trail. Before he knew he was caught in the royal patio. Silently the doors closed behind him. Panic struck the poor animal for he found himself in a strange place surrounded by two legged creatures! The King and his entire family were there to see the rare antelope. The antelope’s body trembled with fear. He stumbled and fell as he tried to find a way out of this strange place. Pillars and fences that stood like trees and bushes blocked his attempts to escape.

While the excited royal family shouted the King alone became quiet. Remorse began to fill his heart. He noticed how quickly the timid graceful animal that he had seen from his balcony had changed into a miserable, helpless creature. He spoke to all that were present there. “Look what has happened to this animal known for its fear of man. What happened to its timid beautiful nature? It is the craving for sweet grass that has landed him here. It did not take traps or weapons for him to lose his freedom. For us too it seems that all it takes is a single craving because of which we will no longer be free!” He immediately asked his men to open all doors. The frightened animal dashed out of the patio. He leaped over the bushes in the park as he bounded for home. That day onwards the Wind Antelope never left his forest home ever again.

Om Muni Muni MAHAmuniye Svaha