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Religious Fables, Folklore, Legends, and Stories
SAVING A LION WITH FLESH FROM HIS LEG

Submitted by Yuri Klitsenko, Russia

Tsong-kha-pa woke to find it late morning. He looked around and noted the beauty of the valley that had seemed so terrible the night before.

'The valley was covered with grass, green trees, and various colored flowers.

Birds sang in the trees and creeks glinted down cliffs.

Amazed, he suddenly noticed a lion chasing a Mongolian gazelle. The agile gazelle climbed the steep cliff from the grassy slope. 'I'he lion, not wanting to give up, followed it up the cliff.

The path was too narrow for the lion and halfway up it slipped and fell. One of the lion's forelegs was broken and it bled from its nose and mouth.

Feeling compassion, Tsong-kha-pa descended the slope and wrapped the lion's broken foreleg with his kasaya.

Thinking that the wounded lion might not survive without care, he decided to stay with it until it recovered. He suffered much in three days of watching the lion. After some time, the lion roared in hunger as though pleading for something to eat. Tsong-kha-pa had not even a crumb of food in his bag and could not take life for food.

How could he find something for the lion to eat? At last he decided to feed his own flesh to the lion. He offered his thigh to the lion, but the lion refused it. Tsong-kha-pa left, found a sharp rock, and cut flesh from his thigh. He returned to the lion and fed it this flesh.

Thus the lion was saved, but Tsong-kha-pa lost much blood and suffered pain.

He scooped up a handful of earth at the base of the cliff and applied it to his wound. Magically, the earth not only stanched his bleeding but also alleviated his pain. He stayed at the base of the cliff for three days before continuing westward.


From Asian Folklore Studies, Volume 51, 1992: 219-242

Feng Lide and Kevin Stuart
Qinghai Education College, Xining, Qinghai, PR China Folklore Concerning Tsong-kha-pa

This article is a selective translation of tales centering around Tsong-kha-pa (1357-1419), the great Tibetan Buddhist reformer.

Yuri Klitsenko is a Russian living in Moscow.  He works for the Russian Orthodox Church.

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