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The King's Noble Destrier
Once upon a time, the Bodhisattva was born as a thoroughbred horse, the finest warhorse in the land. The noble stallion was chosen by the king of Benares to be his own destrier. Because he was the king's best horse, he was fed exquisite three year old rice served in a golden dish. The ground of his stall was perfumed and around it were crimson curtains. A canopy studded with stars of gold covered him. Fragrant flowers grew outside and inside and a lamp of scented oil was always burning.
Now, Benares was a rich city and all of the neighboring kings coveted the kingdoms gold. One day seven kings surrounded Benares with their armies and sent a message to the king " Either yield your kingdom, or fight." The king asked his advisors what he should do and they answered.
"You must not go into battle yourself, but send your strongest knight out to fight them. If he fails, we will decide what to do next."
The king sent for the strongest of his knights.
"Can you fight the seven kings, noble warrior?" asked the king.
"If you give me your destrier, I could fight not only the seven kings but all the kings of India." answered the knight.
"My dear knight, take my destrier and any other horse you please, and go into battle." ordered the king.
"It will be as you wish, my lord." said the knight with a bow. He then descended from the upper chambers of the palace.
The noble destrier was led out and sheathed in mail. The knight himself was armed and
mounted the horse. Through the city gate he flew leading the king's army. They broke down the first camp, and capturing one king alive brought him back a prisoner to the city gate. Returning to the field, the knight and his destrier led the attack which broke down the second camp and then the third fell. After capturing alive five kings, they attacked the sixth camp. But, alas, while capturing the sixth king the valiant destrier received a painful and mortal wound which streamed with blood.
The knight saw the horse's wound and making him lie down at the king's gate, he loosened his mail. As the Bodhisattva lay on his side, he watched his rider arming another horse.
"My rider," he thought to himself, "is arming another horse. That horse will never be able to break down the seventh camp and capture the seventh king; he wil lose all that I have won. This peerless knight will be slain, and the king will fall into the hands of the enemy. I alone, and no other horse, can break down the seventh camp to win the war."
So, as he lay there, he called the knight and said, "Sir knight, I will not throw away what I have already done; only have me set upon my feet and clad again in armor and I will take the seventh camp and capture the seventh king." and then he recited this verse
"Though pierced with killing darts I lie, no hack can match the destrier. So harness none but me, o charioteer, and we will win before I die."
The amazed knight saw Bodhisattva spring to his feet. He bound the horse’s wounds and armed him once again. Mounted on the destrier, he broke down the seventh camp and captured alive the seventh king.
They led the Bodhisattva to the gates again and the king came out to see the warhorse who had saved Benares. Then the great being said to the king, "Good king, do not kill these kings I beg you; bind them instead by an oath, and let them go. As for this courageous knight, let him enjoy the honor due us both for it is not right that a knight who has brought you seven captured kings should ever be brought low."
After the Bodhisattva had demonstrated the virtues of perseverance courage and charity, the king himself took off the horse's armor and as he did he died.