While I am not generally one for sacrificing oneself to hungry wild animals, this is an interesting story from the Buddhist tradition, taken from The Sutra of the Wise and the Foolish (foolish, from an atheist point of view, being the optimum word in this one, but anyway, to the tale).

‘A long time ago, there was a king in this world with the name of Great Vehicle. He ruled over nearly five thousand vassals and had three sons, the eldest of whom was called Great Sound, the middle, Great Deity and the youngest, Great Sentient Being. From childhood the youngest son was of a loving and compassionate nature. To everyone he was like a beloved son. One time, the king went outside for a walk together with his ministers, his queen and his sons. Then, while they rested a little while, the three sons strolled in the woods. They saw a tigress who had given birth to cubs and was so exhausted by days of hunger and thirst that she was on the verge of eating her young. The youngest prince said to his two elder brothers, “This weak and meager tigress is at the edge of death, and suffering so that she would even desire to eat her own offspring.” When the younger brother asked his two elder brothers: “What does the tigress eat?” the two elder brothers replied, “She eats freshly killed meat and drinks blood.” Then he said: “Who has such strength that they would not to fail to save her life by giving her these things?” The two brothers replied: “Nobody as it is extremely difficult.”

‘The younger brother thought: “For a long time I have been wandering in samsara wasting innumerable bodies and lives. I have given up my body sometimes to desire, sometimes to anger and sometimes to ignorance. What is the use of this body which for the sake of Dharma has not even once engaged in merit?” Once he had made up his mind in this way, the three had not walked very long together on their way back, when he said to his two elder brothers, “You two brothers go on ahead. I have something to do and shall come later.” Returning back along the path, he swiftly returned to the lair of the tigress and lay down in front of her, but the tigress could not bite and eat. Thereupon, the prince took a sharp branch and made blood flow from his body and let the tigress lick it. She then opened her mouth and completely devoured the flesh of his body.’

In doing this, the Prince reached Nirvana, and so, once his grieving family had been reassured by a godly manifestation that his gory death was not, in fact, a tragedy, they buried his bones with jewels in a casket in the ground. Above they erected a stupa, now the location where the 9th Thrangu Rinpoche, Karma Lodro Riglug Mawai Singye, built the Namo Buddha monastery (which is where we went from Dhulikhel).

The End.

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