Jataka Tales

Demons in Desert

There were two merchants. Both of them planned to travel to a faraway market to sell their wares. They discussed that it would be useless of them going together as it would create avoidable competition.

The first merchant thought of going first. He thought that he would get a better road to travel, his animals would get newer grass to eat and his men would get fresh fruits to eat.

The second merchant thought it better to go later. He thought that he would not have to do new roadwork. The animals of the first trader would eat off older grass allowing new sprouts to come. His men would get younger fruits to eat.

After this discussion the first trader left with his caravan. After traveling some distance his caravan reached a place called ‘waterless desert’. Some local people said it was a dangerous place full of demons which used to kill and loot people. After sometime they saw a caravan coming from the opposite direction. All the men in that caravan were totally drenched with water and were carrying lotuses and water lilies in their hands. Waving to the first caravan they said, “Why are you torturing your animals by loading them with so much water. There is an oasis ahead. Go there and enjoy yourself’.

The merchant believed what they said and threw all the water his caravan was carrying. When the night came there was no oasis in sight. All men and animals were tired and exhausted. They were blaming the merchant for the situation. In the night the demons came and robbed the caravan and killed everyone.

After sometime the second merchant started his journey. While near the ‘waterless desert’, his caravan encountered similar group of people telling them about the oasis ahead. But the merchant refused to believe them. He said to his folks, ”Had there been oasis around this place would not be called a ‘waterless desert’. These guys can be demons and are trying to trap us. Until and unless we find water we should not throw our current stock”.

During night he asked his men to keep watch so that everybody could be safe. The demons did not dare to come near them. Finally they reached the place where the first group was looted and killed. The second merchant collected all valuables from the first caravan and went ahead. Later he returned safely after a successful business trip.