Grateful Crane

Long long ago, there lived a mother ogre and her 500 children in a mountain far from human habitation.
Every night she climbed down the mountain, sneaked around villages, and kidnapped many children.
They were food for the ogre and her children to live on.
She felt no pity for the children, let alone for their mothers.
The Buddha heard the children’s death cries every night.
He felt very sad and had great sympathy for the victims and their mothers.
He couldn’t permit the ogre’s brutal act any more.
So he hid her beloved baby, her youngest son, in a secret place.

The mother ogre soon noticed that her baby boy was missing.
She looked for him in every nook and cranny, in and out of the mountain, and in villages as far as she could reach.
She grieved for the missing son so much that she bawled away at the sky all day long.
Her cries reached the Buddha’s ears.
The mother ogre ended up visiting the Buddha as her last resort.
The mother asked the Buddha,
“I’ve been looking for my missing baby.
I know you have supernatural powers.
Would you tell me where my boy is?”

The Buddha asked back,
“You are looking for your baby?
But you have still a lot of children left, don’t you?
Why are you crying so badly?”

The mother ogre implored him for mercy,
“I have 500 children, but now my beloved one is gone.
I searched for him everywhere but I couldn’t find even a footprint of his.
Oh, merciful Buddha, please tell me where he is.”

“You look pretty sad.
But I have no sympathy for you.
You killed many human children.
How deeply their mothers have grieved!
Have you ever thought about them? ”
Buddha said.

The mother ogre couldn’t answer.
She hung her head deeply for a while.
But at last she said,
“It’s unbearable for me to lose the baby.
I feel like my heart will break.
It is the first time I’ve felt this way.
Oh, if I could hug him in my arms again, I’d put up with any hardship!”

“Now you understand the parents’ grief over the children who were killed by you,”
the Buddha said to her in a dignified tone,
“From now on, you mustn’t kill anyone.
If you promise me, I’ll tell you where your son is.”

The mother said,
“Your words touched my heart.
I was a selfish mother.
I vow never to kill anyone from the bottom of my heart.
I promise…but…,”
then the mother murmured,
“How will I live without having any human meat?”
“I recommend to you some good food.
Try this pomegranate, the taste of which is, they say, similar to human meat,”
Buddha handed her a pomegranate.
“I appreciate your advice.
I really repent of what I did.
I know that nothing can atone for my sin.
What should I do?”
she asked.
“Keep your mind in peace.
Embrace the Buddhist faith.
You can learn it with my disciples,”
his voice had a benevolent sound.

From that time she practiced severe asceticism with his disciples and became a faithful disciple.
She wasn’t an ogre anymore.
She worked for mothers and children to help them live safely and peacefully.
Later she was called ‘Kishibojin,’ a guardian deity of mothers and children.

The end