|India Folk Tales
The Demon with the Matted Hair
story the Teacher told in Jetavana about a Brother who had ceased
striving after' righteousness. Said the Teacher to him: "Is it really
true that you have ceased all striving? "--"Yes, Blessed One," he
replied. Then the Teacher said: " O Brother, in former days wise men
made effort in the place where effort should be made, and so attained
unto royal power." And he told a story of long ago.
Once upon a
time, when Brahmadatta was King of Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as
son of his chief queen. On his name-day they asked 800 Brahmans, having
satisfied them with all their desires, about his lucky marks. The
Brahmans who had skill in divining from such marks beheld the
excellence of his, and made answer:
"Full of goodness, great
King, is your son, and when you die he will become king; he shall be
famous and renowned for his skill with the five weapons, and shall be
the chief man in all India. On hearing what the Brahmans had to say,
they gave him the name of the Prince of the Five Weapons, sword, spear,
bow, battle-axe, and shield.
When he came to years of discretion, and had attained the measure of sixteen years, the King said to him:
"My son, go and complete your education."
"Who shall be my teacher?" the lad asked.
my son; in the kingdom of Candahar, in the city of Takkasila, is a
far-famed teacher from whom I wish you to learn. Take this, and give it
him for a fee." With that he gave him a thousand pieces of money, and
The lad departed and was educated by this
teacher; he received the Five Weapons from him as a gift, bade him
farewell, and leaving Takkasila, he began his journey to Benares, armed
with the Five Weapons.
On his way he came to a forest inhabited
by the Demon with the Matted Hair. At the entering of the forest some
men saw him, and cried out:
"Hullo, young sir, keep clear of
that wood! There's a Demon in it called he of the Matted Hair: he kills
every man he sees!" And they tried to stop him. But the Bodhisatta,
having confidence in himself, went straight on, fearless as a maned
When he reached mid-forest the Demon showed himself. He
made himself as tall as a palm-tree; his head was the size of a pagoda,
his eyes as big as saucers, and he had two tusks all over knobs and
bulbs; he had the face of a hawk, a variegated belly, and blue hands
"Where are you going?" he shouted. "Stop! You'll make a meal for me!"
the Bodhisatta: "Demon, I came here trusting in myself. I advise you to
be careful how you come near me. Here's a poisoned arrow, which I'll
shoot at you and knock you down!" With this menace, he fitted to his
bow an arrow dipped in deadly poison, and let fly. The arrow stuck fast
in the Demon's hair. Then he shot and shot, till he had shot away fifty
arrows; and they all stuck in the Demon's hair. The Demon snapped them
all off short, and threw them down at his feet; then came up to the
Bodhisatta, who drew his sword and struck the Demon, threatening him
the while. His sword--it was three-and-thirty inches long--stuck in the
Demon's hair! The Bodhisatta struck him with his spear--that stuck too!
He struck him with his club--and that stuck too!
Bodhisatta saw that this had stuck fast, he addressed the Demon. "You,
Demon!" said he, "did you never hear of me before--the Prince of the
Five Weapons? When I came into the forest which you live in I did not
trust to my bow and other weapons: This day will I pound you and grind
you to powder!" Thus did he declare his resolve, and with a shout he
hit at the Demon with his right hand. It stuck fast in his hair! He hit
him with his left hand--that stuck too!' With his right foot he kicked
him--that stuck too; then with his left--and that stuck too! Then he
butted at him with his head, crying, "I'll pound you to powder! " and
his head stuck fast like the rest.
Thus the Bodhisatta was five
times snared, caught fast in five places, hanging suspended: yet he
felt no fear--was not even nervous.
Thought the Demon to
himself: "Here's a lion of a man! A noble man! More than man is he!
Here he is, caught by a Demon like me; yet he will not fear a bit.
Since I have ravaged this road, I never saw such a man. Now, why is it
that he does not fear?" He was powerless to eat the man, but asked him:
"Why is it, young sir, that you are not frightened to death?"
should I fear, Demon?" replied he. "In one life a man can die but once.
Besides, in my belly is a thunderbolt; if you eat me, you will never be
able to digest it; this will tear your inwards into little bits, and
kill you: so we shall both perish. That is why I fear nothing." (By
this, the Bodhisatta meant the weapon of knowledge which he had within
When he heard this, the Demon thought: "This young man
speaks the truth. A piece of the flesh of such a lion-man as he would
be too much for me to digest, if it were no bigger than a kidney-bean.
I'll let him go!" So, being frightened to death, he let go the
"Young sir, you are a lion of a man! I will
not eat you up. I set you free from my hands, as the moon is disgorged
from the jaws of Rahu after the eclipse. Go back to the company of your
friends and relations!"
And the Bodhisatta said: "Demon, I will
go, as you say. You were born a Demon, cruel, blood-bibbing, devourer
of the flesh and gore of others, because you did wickedly in former
lives. If you still go on doing wickedly, you will go from darkness to
darkness. But now that you have seen me you will find it impossible to
do wickedly. Taking the life of living creatures causes birth, as an
animal, in the world of Petas, or, in the body of an Asura, or, if one
is reborn as a man, it makes his life short." With -this and the like
monition he told him the disadvantage of the five kinds of wickedness,
and the profit of the five kinds of virtue, and frightened the Demon in
various ways, discoursing to him until he subdued him and made him
self-denying, and established him in the five kinds of virtue; he made
him worship the deity to whom offerings were made in that wood; and
having carefully admonished him, departed out of it.
entrance of the forest he told all to the people thereabout; and went
on to Benares, armed with his five weapons. Afterwards he became king,
and ruled righteously; and after giving alms and doing good he passed
away according to his deeds.
And the Teacher, when this tale was ended, became perfectly enlightened, and repeated this verse:
Whose mind and heart from all desire is free,
Who seeks for peace by living virtuously,
He in due time will sever all the bonds
That bind him fast to life, and cease to be.
the Teacher reached the summit, through sainthood and the teaching of
the law, and thereupon he declared the Four Truths. At the end of the
declaring of the Truths, this Brother also attained to sainthood. Then
the Teacher made the connexion, and gave the key to the birth-tale,
saying: "At that time Angulimala was the Demon, but the, Prince of the
Five Weapons was I myself."