Once there lived a hunter he was very mean person. He moved here and there in the jungle in search of birds and other small creatures. He was a very cruel man and looks like a Yama, the God of death. He was a very heartless person so all his friends and relatives abandoned him for his cruel behaviour.
In the same jungle there lived a pair of doves. They have prepared a beautiful nest in the top of a big banyan tree and they lived there happily.
One day the hunter reached the same tree and finding the female dove alone he caught hold her. He immediately trapped the female dove into a cage and then began looking for some more hunting. Suddenly a strong storm started which is followed by heavy rains. The hunter terrified by all this sudden changes and started searching for shelter to save him. He moved here and there but he could not find any shelter. After some time he found a big tree, as he was shivering in rain and cold, he immediately took shelter under the tree. This the same tree where the female dove he had caught lived.
After some time, the rain started to stop and the storm also ceased. The sky started to clear. But it was late night, so the hunter decided to spend the night under the tree. He started praying to the tree, “O spirit of the tree, or whoever lives here, I want to take shelter under this tree for tonight. I am drenched completely in the rain and suffer from cold and hunger. I cannot go away to any other place in this situation so please take shelter me here and protect me for the night.”
At the same time, in the nest above, the male dove was very worried about his wife as she had not returned. The storm and heavy rain also increased his worries for her wife. He said, “I am very disappointed and worried for my wife who has not returned home yet. Our home seems empty without her. I am too much worried as the storm was so strong and the wind blow so fiercely, and it is already late in the night. Please God save her.”
The female dove could hear her husband worrying from above the tree and so she called out to him. She said, “Dear, I am being held by the hunter who has taken shelter under the same tree. He trapped me in a cage finding me alone. I want to tell you something more that will be for your own good.”
The male dove surprised after listening her wife and he said to her to explain all the matter. The female dove explained, “Dear, The guest is always God. If anyone comes to your house for shelter, one must do his best efforts to him. This hunter came here to take shelter under this tree to protect himself from cold. He is hungry also. Please don’t hate him for his cruel deeds to caged me. Instead, welcome him in our home because he wants shelter for the night under your protection.”
The female dove continued explaining, “My dear husband, this is not the fault of the hunter that he caged me. But surely it’s all the result of my past deeds. Misfortunes like poverty, disease, detention and even disaster come to someone’s life as a result of his own deeds. So please don’t hate him and welcome him according to our culture and tradition.”
After hearing the words of her wife the male dove touched by her virtuous guidance. He immediately flew down and reached the hunter. He said to him, “O my friend, Welcome to our tree. Please don't worry about anything as you will be safe here. Stay in this place as long as you want. Tell me how I can help you.”
The hunter impressed by the dove and became happy to have a friend. He said to the dove, “Dear dove, Thank you very much for such warm welcome but please do something to help me from this dreadful cold.”
Immediately the dove flew to far place and returned with a piece of burning coal. Then he climbed up the tree to drop some dry leaves. Within no time the leaves began to burn. He said to the hunter, “Sir, Please warm yourself from this fire and you will be fine soon. I am an unlucky person for not being able to provide food to my guest. As you are my guest and you are very hungry so I offer myself to you. Please accept my sacrifice and make a meal out of me.” And then the dove flew into the fire which killed him.
As the hunter was very hungry and so he could not refuse to accept his offer. But at the same time he was moved by such kindness. His heart was filled with pity and he began to thought, “A man who is cruel always to other persons and done evil actions, he ultimately pays for his misdeeds and evil actions. I am also such a person and certainly go to hell for my misdeeds which I have done for so long. But this dove has righteous example, and taught me a lesson of sacrifice.”
He continued, “Now onwards I will lead a disciplined and well being life. I will leave all my evil actions and promise to sacrifice all my unwanted pleasured of life.” Then within few moments he threw away the cage, which opened the gate of the cage and released the female dove. When the female dove free, she realised that her husband was already dead and was burning in the fire. She immediately began to scream, “What I will do without you. There is no meaning of my life without you. I have lost all interest in life"
And then the female dove flew into the fire and killed herself. After her death, the female dove met her husband in heaven. He was transformed into a heavenly creature, sitting into a chariot in costly ornaments. The female dove realised that she had also assumed a divine form.
After that day the hunter left his life as a hunter and converted into a sage. He passed his days as a sage and one day when he saw a wild fire in a forest, he decided to sacrifice his life to apologise for his past deeds. Thus he paid for his misdeeds and was relieved of his sins. At last he went to heaven with great joy.
The wise indeed say:
Self-sacrifice is the highest stage of sacrifice.