The power of Sat
Once long ago in India, there lived a dangerous robber, who lived in a forest between two small villages. The villagers were very scared of him, because he not only robbed them, but also chopped off one of their little fingers to add to a 'string' (mala) of chopped fingers (angulis) that he wore around his waist. Due to this, the robber became infamous as 'Angulimala' or the one who wears the string of chopped fingers.
Once Shrī Buddha was passing through the forest on His mission to spread spirituality to the villagers. The villagers feared for His life and warned Him against going to the neighbouring village. But Shri Buddha assured the villagers of His safe return and started His journey through the forest.
The night was dark and cloudy. Angulimala, who never missed a traveller, caught Shri Buddha and asked Him for His belongings. Shri Buddha told him that He was a monk, who had renounced the world, and had nothing to give him. Angulimala was puzzled, but at the very next moment, he realised that if he allowed Shri Buddha to go unharmed, the villagers would no longer be scared of him. Thinking so, Angulimala walked towards Shri Buddha and threatened to kill Him.
Shri Buddha stood there calmly. He told Angulimala, "You are free to kill me, but before you do so you will have to fulfil one wish of mine." Angulimala agreed, so Shri Buddha asked him to pluck a leaf from a nearby tree and bring it to Him. Angulimala did so and came to Shri Buddha with the leaf in one hand and his axe in the other hand, ready to kill Him.
However, Shri Buddha said, "Oh, I am sorry! I did not mean this leaf, but the one from the other tree. Could you put this leaf back on the tree that you got it from?" Angulimala started laughing and said, "How can a plucked leaf be put back on the tree? Even if I stick it to the tree, it will fall off, as it is already separated from the tree. It is impossible to do so!"
On hearing this, Shri Buddha replied, "When we cannot give life, we do not have any right to take it away! God, who gave life to all, alone has that right." Shri Buddha's words touched Angulimala's heart and he fell at His feet, pleading forgiveness. That day, Angulimala turned from his criminal ways and commenced spiritual practice under Shri Buddha's guidance.
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