A poet named Dhan Pal, who was considered very “shrewd” as well proficient, had earned respect as well as reverence of his king Bhoja Raja. The poet is believed to have used many stratagems to turn the Raja from path of violence to non-violence. Here’s a tale worthy of recollection:
Once Bhoja Raja decided to embark on a hunting expedition and asked poet Dhan Pal to accompany him. The poet accepted the king’s request – as if an order – reluctantly. During the hunt king asked “Dhan Pal why does the deer jump towards the sky while the swine burrows into the earth?” Dhan Pal replied adroitly “O king! Afraid of your arms the deer wants to take refuge behind his own kin in the moon while the swine wants to hide behind Vishnu who supports the mother earth in his incarnation as Varah which is his own likeness.”
Unmoved by altruist response from his favorite poet the king remained silent. Not much time later the king struck a deer with an arrow. The deer received injury and began to writhe with agony. Then the Raja asked Dhan Pal to describe this scene. At once, Dhan Pal said in a Sanskrit verse, which meant:
“May this manly courage of yours be destroyed in which there is no pity. This is injustice. The refugee is not at all at fault. Alas! There is nobody to question anybody else. That is why the powerful kill the weak.”
On hearing this, Bhoj was much annoyed. On this Dhan Pal said again:
“O king! If a dying enemy puts a straw in his mouth, he is left alone. But these poor creatures always eat straw, then why are they killed in this fashion?” This time what Dhan Pal said had great influence on Raja Bhoj. From that day he gave up hunting.
When they were returning they saw a yajna was being performed. Bhoja Raja happened to turn his eye towards the yajna mandap. A goat tied to a pillar for sacrifice was bleating. The Raja asked Dhan Pal for the cause of the goat’s bleating. Dhan Pal narrated the cause thus:
“O King! That goat is saying, ‘I neither crave for paradise nor do I entreat you for that. O good man! I am always happy eating grass. Then why are you so keen to send me to paradise? If the animal sacrificed in yajna do really go to paradise, then why don’t you complete your yajna by sacrificing your father, mother, children and relations so that they go easily to paradise.”
The Raja was astonished with this reply. Then Dhan Pal said again:
“If by raising a pillar, by animal sacrifice and by killing animals and splashing blood, anyone can go to heaven, then who will go to hell? O king! the holy men say that truth alone is the pillar of yajna; tapas is fire; and one’s own karmas are the firewood. And in such a yajna kunda the offering should be that of ahimsa.”
This tryst turned the Bhoja Raja away from the path of Himsa (violence) to Ahimsa (non-violence).