The Emperor Babar was extremely kind, extremely generous and extremely pious, and there was nothing that he would hesitate to do for his subjects. He used to consider his subjects as his own children. From time to time Babar used to go out of the palace grounds alone and walk along the streets to see how his subjects were behaving, and what conditions they were living in. If they were poverty-stricken, he would help them out. The Emperor went out alone many, many times, and people did not recognise him because he dressed very simply at those times. Sometimes he wore a kind of turban, but it was impossible for people to know that it was the Emperor’s crown by seeing only the outside of it.
Now it happened that there was a young man who cherished tremendous jealousy toward Babar because everybody appreciated him, admired him, adored him and extolled him to the skies for his bravery, kindness, nobility and other divine qualities. This young man had long been harbouring a desire to kill Babar. He had heard from people that from time to time the Emperor walked in the city all by himself. So he was waiting for an opportunity to kill Babar, hoping that someday he would meet the Emperor alone. The young man always carried a sword.
One afternoon as Babar was walking along the street he saw a mad elephant. People were all shouting and running away as the elephant came down the street. All the neighbours were panicking. But there was one little child who was helpless. He could not run fast enough to get out of the way. The elephant was about to trample the little child when the Emperor, who was incognito, came running at top speed and snatched the child out of the way. Babar saved the child, but as he was running away with the child, his turban fell to the ground.
When the mad elephant had passed by, some spectators ran to pick up the turban of the brave man who had saved the small child. When they saw the inside, they realised that it was actually the crown of their Emperor, Babar. The young man who wanted to kill Babar was one of the spectators when Babar saved the life of the child. He himself had run away, afraid of the elephant. When he realised what had happened, he fell at Babar’s feet and said, “Forgive me.”
Babar said, “What have you done?”
The man said, “I have been cherishing the desire to kill you for many years, because I was terribly jealous of the admiration you receive. Now I see that you truly deserve it. You are the most precious of us all, but you were ready to give your own life to save an ordinary human being. What I have learned from you is that it is infinitely better to give life than to take. This is what you have taught me. So now, instead of taking your life, I am giving you my life. Please take my life.” And he offered Babar the sword with which he had planned to kill him.
Babar took the sword and said, “I taught you how to give life, but now I am going to take your life. You come with me. From now on you will be one of my bodyguards. I am sure you will be a faithful one.” So Babar took the man’s life only to make it into a useful and fruitful one. Instead of killing him, instead of punishing him, Babar made his would-be killer one of his personal bodyguards.