Prince Sattva and the Lions
Prince Sattva and his brothers came
Upon a lioness
With cublings starving, deadly tame
Out in the wilderness.
How shall we help her, each one asked,
To stave death and refresh
And save her cubs—when we are tasked
To take no mortal flesh.
Her little cubs, deserve to live,
Their hunger be appeased,
Yet is there nothing we might give
Whereby the gods be pleased?
In consternation so they left
Abandoning a mother’s
Terrible plight, all hope bereft,
Till Prince spoke to his brothers:
Go on before, that I may follow
Within a moment’s time;
But unbeknownst, his words rang hollow,
Dissembling not a crime.
He clambered down to where she lay,
Yet stirred she not, too weak to prey,
There in the wilderness.
Prince Sattva climbed, would not be vexed
But jabbed into his throat
A branch or reed, then tumbled next
Into the pit remote.
His spewing blood revivified
The lioness with cubs—
Prince Sattva thought, before he died,
My flesh as good as grub’s.
Thus they devoured him, limb by limb
And tore his carcass raw;
When brothers two returned for him
Mere skeleton they saw.
Our brother has committed here
Deed most magnificent,
Although we grieve—in death no fear
Resides: the story went
All across Asia—one so great
To be the bodhisattva,
Thus life through death to consecrate
Recorded in Jataka.
If Jesus died for mankind’s sins
Prince Sattva did not less
Dying for all of sentience—
Small cubs and lioness.