THE BRAHMIN AND THE GOAT
The Brahmin Mitrasarma had taken the vow of keeping up the sacred fire for ever. In the month of Magha(A Hindu lunar month- Roughly, 15th February to 15th March) when a cold breeze was blowing and the clouds had overcast the sky, and there was a little drizzling, he went to a distant village to beg for a goat for a sacrifice/ He said to a rich householder, ‘ Sir I want to have a sacrifice on the coming new-moon day. So give me a goat(Animal sacrifices of various kinds were rife with the Hindus as with all ancient races. The commonest was the sacrifice of a goat). The householder gave him a fat goat. The Brahmin tried to lead the goat through the street. It ran to and fro, being afraid of the stranger and unwilling to leave its village. With great trouble the Brahmin succeeded in finally catching it. In order to prevent it from running to and fro again, he took it on his shoulders and started for his village.
When the goat was struggling to escape, three hungry and poverty-stricken rogues saw it. They said to one another “If we eat this goat, we can brave this day’s cold. So, let us dupe this simple Brahmin, get the goat and by eating it give our bodies the necessary vital energy to brave this cold”. They separated after concerting a sound working plan.
When the Brahmin had proceeded some way with the goat, one of these rogues came in the disguise of a farmer opposite to him and said to him “O reverend Brahmin, why are you carrying an unclean dog on your shoulders and thus doing an act which will bring the hatred and contempt of the people on you ? It has been said, “A dog, a cock and a chandala (The lowest of the out-castes) are declared to be equally untouchable and only a little less so than a camel and an ass.’ So one should never touch them, least of all, a holy Brahmin like you.’ The Brahmin got angry with him and said, ‘ Are you blind that you call this goat a dog The rogue replied, ‘ O Brahmin, do not get angry. Do what you like and go on carrying this dog if such is your desire,’ and went his way.
When the Brahmin had proceeded some more distance, the second rogue came opposite to him in the garb of a coolie. Seeing the Brahmin, he said ‘ Oh, what a shame ! O Brahmin, this dead calf might have been dear to you, but even so you should not carry it on your shoulders. It has been said, “That foolish person who touches a lower animal or corpse must undergo purification by either eating the panchagavyam (A purificatory preparation consisting of five products of the sacred cow, namely, ghee, milk, curds, cow’s urine and cowdung, the last two in microscopic quantities) or by observing the chandrayana vow(A vow with graded fasting of a severe type)”.’ Then the Brahmin said in anger, ‘ What ! Are you blind that you call a living goat a dead calf ?’ He replied, ‘O venerable sir, don’t get angry with me. I am a blunt man and spoke what I thought. You may act as you like.’
When the Brahmin had proceeded some more distance the third rogue came opposite in the grab of a shepherd and said to him, ‘Oh, this surely is most improper on your part, O Brahmin, thus to carry an ass on your shoulders. It has been said, ” He who touches an ass knowingly or unknowingly has to purify himself by taking a bath with his clothes on.” So abandon this unclean animal before others see you.’
The Brahmin said to himself, ‘ Surely, this goat must be some Rakshasa(A man-devouring demon popularly supposed to be an enemy of sacrifices and capable of assuming any shape) who has taken the form of a goat in order to deceive me and lure me to destruction. It is well known how desirous of destroying the sacrifices these Rakshasas are. Unless this thing is a Rakshasa? how could it appear like a dog to the farmer, like a calf to the coolie and like an ass to the shepherd ? Only a Rakshasa can take so many forms. Let me abandon this wretch and escape while there is time.’ So thinking, he threw the goat on the ground and ran homewards in panic flight. The three rogues caught the goat, cooked it and ate it with a contented heart.