The Wind-Deer and the Honey-Grass: The Craving for Taste

The King of Benares once employed a gardener to take care of his pleasure garden. There were times when animals entered the garden from the nearby forest. The king was informed of the gardener’s complaint and instructed him to immediately report any strange animals he saw.

He once observed a peculiar species of deer at the far end of the garden. He took off like the wind when he saw the man. As a result, they are referred to as “wind-deer.” They are a very timid breed that is rare. They are very easily alarmed by people.

The king was informed about the wind-deer by the gardener. If he could capture the exotic animal, he asked the gardener. I could even bring him into the palace, my lord, if you give me some bee’s honey, he replied. So, the king gave the order to give him all the honey from bees he wanted.

The flowers and fruits in the king’s pleasure garden were his favorite foods. So that he wouldn’t be as terrified, the gardener gradually allowed him to see him. The wind-deer would typically come here to eat, so he started spreading honey on the grass there. Indeed, the deer started munching on the honey-coated grass. He quickly started to crave the flavour of this “honey-grass.” He frequented the garden daily due to the craving. He would soon stop eating altogether!

The gardener inched closer and closer to the wind-deer over time. Initially, he would flee. But eventually he got over his fear and realized the man wasn’t a threat. The gardener eventually persuaded the deer to eat the honey-grass directly from his hand as he grew friendlier and friendlier. He did this repeatedly for a while in order to gain his confidence and trust.

The far end of the pleasure garden was connected to the king’s palace by a wide pathway made by the gardener’s rows of curtains. The curtains would prevent the wind-deer from seeing any potential danger-causing people from inside this pathway.

When everything was ready, the gardener left with a bag of grass and a jar of honey. When he reappeared, he started hand-feeding the wind-deer once more. He led the wind-deer into the blocked-off pathway gradually. He led the deer into the palace as it slowly followed him as he continued to guide him with the honey-grass. The wind-deer was trapped when the palace guards shut the doors after they had entered. He suddenly felt extremely frightened upon seeing the members of the court and started frantically trying to flee.

When the king descended to the hall, he was met by the terrified wind-deer. He stated: “A wind-deer, indeed! How could he have become in such a condition? An animal known as a wind-deer will stay away from a location where he has even glimpsed a person for seven whole days. A wind-deer typically won’t return for the rest of his life if he feels even the slightest bit scared there. But observe! Even a shy wild creature like him can become enslaved by his desire for a sweet taste. He can then be seduced and led into the city’s core or even inside the palace.

“My friends, the teachers caution us against becoming overly attached to our homes because everything eventually fades away. They claim that having too few close friends limits one’s perspective and makes one feel constrained. However, consider how much riskier the simple desire for a sweet flavor—or any other taste sensation—is. See how my gardener used this lovely, shy animal’s taste for adventure to lure it into a trap.”

The king released the gentle wind-deer into the forest because he didn’t want to hurt him. The taste of honey-grass never left him, and he never went back to the royal pleasure garden.

The moral is: “It is better to eat to live, than to live to eat.”