KING Sivi, who was famed for his goodness, was once cruelly tested by Indra, king of the gods. Seeing that dharma, the god of justice, had transformed himself into a dove, Indra changed himself into a hawk, and began chasing dharma. Terrified, the dove, who despite being a god was puny compared against Indra’s strength, came to rest in the lap of King Sivi. The hawk perched near King Sivi and asked him in a human voice to surrender the dove to him, as he was hungry and the dove was his natural prey. King Sivi, who was both wise and compassionate, knew it would be wrong to deny the hawk his food, and thought of a heroic way out of this dilemma. He told the hawk that as the dove had sought his protection, he could not give it away, but he was willing to give it flesh of some other kind, equal to the dove’s weight.
The hawk, with cunning, replied that it would accept some of the king’s flesh, but it would have to be juicy as he was looking for both quality and quantity. King Sivi ordered his cook to bring his sharpest knife and a pair of scales. He dismissed everybody, and taking the knife, cut a chunk out of his own stomach. He placed the dove on one side of the scale and his flesh on the other.
Though the dove looked light, he weighed more than the piece of flesh. So, the king cut out more of his flesh and placed it on the scale. But the scales were still not balanced. The king went on cutting more and more out of his own body; the knife got so sticky with blood that it became quite blunt.
But the more of his flesh he threw on the scales, the heavier the dove became. In the end, he hurled his body (what was left of it) on to the scales. They balanced finally, and a voice from the sky said, ‘Well done, O noble, brave king. You have equaled the weight of the dove, and Indra is happy.’ Both gods assumed their true forms and stood in front of the scales; they restored King Sivi to its proper health and wholeness. The knives and scales were miraculously cleaned too and it all seemed normal when the courtiers returned.
This was how King Sivi was tested, and how he nobly passed the test.