THE SELF-SACRIFICING DOVE
There was once a fierce fowler who was an expert at laying traps for innocent birds in order to catch them and sell them in the market. While the birds were singing beautiful songs, his only thought was how to trap them or shoot them. Naturally he was abhorred by his fellowmen. Daily he took a net, a catch, a club and bow and arrows and roamed through the forest in search of victims. One day, when he was in the forest, a terrible thunder storm broke out, and rain poured in torrents, and he was drenched from head to toe, and took refuge under a tree. He was dying of hunger. On that tree lived a pair of doves, deeply in love with each other.
The wife was away, and the husband was very anxious about his wife. “A house is not a home without the wife,” cried out the male dove. “Where has my beloved gone in this great storm, and when will she come ?” Soon his wife teturned and saw the fowler in his miserable state. The fowler begged of God to be kind to him that day and begged of the doves to relieve his cold and hunger. The male dove then heaped up a number of leaves and twigs from his nest and lighted them and gave the fowler a fire to warm himself with. The fowler asked for some food saying, “I am dying of hunger.” Having nothing to give him, the male dove, desirous of feeding a guest asking for hospitality, fell into that fire, asking the fowler to eat him up. The female dove, on seeing her husband’s act, said, “How can I live without my husband ? Oh, eat me too,” and fell into the fire after her husband.
Both the husband and the wife were taken in a golden chariot to heaven by the gods because of their beautiful deeds of sacrifice. The fowler, on seeing this, thought, “What a miserable sinful life is mine that I, born a man, am not doing anything noble like these mere birds, and am living a life of cruelty, indulging in the slaughter of innocents,” and he went along the forest without eating the dead doves. Seeing a forest fire, he plunged into it and burnt himself to death so that he might get a new birth and begin a new life free from sins.