This is a tale of a different boy. A different sort of man.
He was called Himsaka at birth, then changed to Ahimsaka, and then, following events made it Angulimala.
His birth was marked by several omens, most of them bad. The constellation of thieves appeared in the skies, and black cats swarmed the palace. Ladders seemed to be everywhere, and broken mirrors seemed to be the trend.
You get my point.
So, recognizing these omens, the sage decided that the boy be named Himsaka (The Dangerous One).
The father, realizing that the name was as bad as openly calling the child a terrorist, said, “to avoid the omens, (and any more broken Belgian mirrors), we shall call him Ahimsaka (The Peaceful One).”
The boy had a proper childhood, and was sent to Takshashila to study under a famous Guru.
He was fantastic at Math, English, Sciences, Taxation, Gouging out eyes, Archery, Gouging out eyes, Sword fighting and Gouging out eyes.
He became his guru’s favorite, and the others didn’t like it.
The other students were always facing remarks such as, “See how well Ahimsaka has dissected the goat’s eye! Why can’t I expect the same from the rest of you? Oafs!”
Frustrated, the others hatched a plan.
The next day, Ahimsaka was running late, while the others were late.
His classmates started talking about how Ahimsaka was boasting of his greatness and his knowledge.
This angered the Guru, and when Ahimsaka turned up half an hour late, the Guru said quietly, “Your training has ended. You have done well. May the Force be with you.”
Ahimsaka, shocked, turned, and began walking away. The Guru then said, “Wait. You haven’t given me my Gurudakshina yet.”
He continued, “From you, I want a thousand human fingers as dakshina.”
So…yeah…an already bad day was made worse by his teacher asking him to become a killer.
Ahimsaka turned, and walked out the Ashram, and settled down in a forest near Kosala. As people traversed through the forest, Ahimsaka killed them, and collected one finger per victim.
(At this point, my readers might ask why he didn’t collect ten fingers per person. Well, first off, murdering someone isn’t as easy as it sounds. You might see Ethan Hunt pull the trigger, and walk away from an explosion unscathed, but that isn’t how it works.)
(Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You’re gonna love it here.)
Eventually, people figured out that there was something or someone making sure that travelers never return home. One time, Ahimsaka was seen by a traveler from a distance, and the traveler ran for his life.
He went back home, and described Ahimsaka to his relatives.
After so many murders, Ahimsaka had become a veteran at his work. He was so used to collecting fingers, that he had begun making them into necklaces and putting them on. (He wasn’t featured in Vogue back then, but….)
So, the terrified citizens of Kosala began calling him Angulimala (The Necklace of Fingers).
The King of Kosala decided to send his entire army to kill Angulimala and end the chaos in his kingdom.
As it turned out, Ahimsaka’s (I like this name, so, I’ll call him Ahimsaka) mother was living in Kosala, and, fearing for her son’s life, she set out for the forest to find him.
The Divine Buddha was also staying in Kosala, so, he foresaw the two possible events of the future using advanced tech that looked like the google glass.
Either he could go to Ahimsaka and stop any more murders, or, his mother would go, become his 1000th victim, and Ahimsaka would go deep down to hell as matricide.
Buddha set out for the forest, but Ahimsaka’s mother got there first.
Ahimsaka was looking on as his mother tried to explain the situation to him. Then, Ahimsaka raised the sword, about to kill his mother, and Buddha passed the two, coolly walking.
Ahimsaka stood there, glaring at Buddha as if he was petrificius totalified, with the sword and everything in hand.
Enraged at not being noticed, Ahimsaka ran after Buddha, shouting, “Get back ‘ere mate!!! You lily livered lot ain’t gonna go about ignoring me!!”
Buddha kept walking, at his slow-ish pace, and Ahimsaka kept running.
Ahimsaka ran, and ran, and ran and ran and ran, but couldn’t keep up at all. Exasperated, but still running, he shouted, “What sorcery is this, mate?”
Buddha smiled, turned, and began walking backwards. He put his headphones on, and began humming “We’ll Keep Running Forever.”
Ahimsaka screamed in disgust, “Is that “We’ll keep Running Forever”? Ugh! Stop this!”
Buddha smiled, and pointed at Ahimsaka’s feet.
When Ahimsaka looked down, he saw a golden, glowing treadmill sort of thing that just refused to stop.
Ahimsaka looked up at Buddha in terror as he stopped running and was thrown off the treadmill.
The next day, at the monastery, the King came to visit. He saw a new monk, and walked over to him. He asked, “What is your name?”
The monk replied, “Ahimsaka.”
But soon, word got out that Ahimsaka used to be Angulimala.
The old protesters and mobs began thronging the monastery to offer their insults.
One day, when Ahimsaka was out begging for alms, a mob threw sticks and stones, and as much as I would like to say Jesus descended and gave his speech about “The first to cast the stone”, I regret to tell you that Ahimsaka didn’t survive that episode.
He ascended to heaven.
This story tells us that everyone has both good and bad in them, and it is the part that we chose to act on that defines us. Everyone deserves a second chance.
But, some people just need a high five.
In the face.
With a chair made of steel.