And then again, long ago in ancient times, this country had a king who was named Vasu. His mind became weary with worldly dharmas and as a result he left behind the home life and became a hermit. At this time the home-dwelling brahmans were involved in a doctrinal debate with the hermits who had left the home life. The home-dwelling brahmans insisted that the scriptures require that ritual offerings to the gods require slaughtering animals and eating their flesh. The hermits who had left the home life insisted that one should not slaughter animals and eat their flesh in the course of making ritual offerings to the gods. They argued back and forth until finally the brahmans who had left the home life said, "Here we have a king who has left the home life and become a hermit. Do you all trust him or not?"
The home-dwelling brahmans all said, "We trust in him."
The brahmans who had left the home life said, "We will use this man as an ar- biter. Tomorrow we shall pose the question to him." Then, that very evening, the home-dwelling brahmans were first to pay a visit to the abode of Vasu the hermit. After having asked all manner of questions, they said to Vasu, the hermit, "In tomorrow's debate you must help us." The next morning at the appointed time for the discussion, the hermits who had left the home life asked Vasu the hermit, "In the course of performing ritual offerings to the gods, should one slaughter animals and eat their flesh or not?"
Vasu the hermit said, "According to the dharma of the Brahmans, during the course of performing ritual offerings to the gods, one should slaughter animals and eat their flesh."
The hermits who had left the home life said, "But what do you yourself actually think? Should one slaughter animals and eat their flesh?"
Vasu the hermit replied, "Because it is a sacrifice to the gods, one ought to s laughter animals and eat their flesh. Because these animals die in the course of a sacrifice made to the gods, they are able to be reborn in the heavens."
The hermits who had left the home life exclaimed, "You are utterly wrong! You have told a great lie!" Then they spat upon him and said, "Disappear, you male- factor!" At this time Vasu the hermit sank into the ground up to the level of his ankles. Because he had only just opened for the first time the door to extreme offenses, the hermits who had left the home life said, "You ought to speak true words. If you deliberately lie, your body will sink into the earth."
Vasu the hermit said, "I know that because one slaughters the sheep and eats its flesh on behalf of the gods, there is no offense," whereupon he immediately sank farther into the earth up to the level of his knees. In this manner he gradually sank up to his waist and then up to his neck.
The hermits who had left the home life said to him, "You are now undergoing present and immediate retribution for your lying. However, if you change your ways and speak the truth, although you have sunken into the earth, we will still be able to get you out again and bring it about that your offense will be pardoned."
To be continued