Well, on the moon, if you look closely, there are a series of spots, those spots are known as “seas.” The seas have been formed over the centuries by the constant collision of objects in space. Since the earth on the lunar surface is more reflective than the earth, any movement on the surface, such as a meteorite collision, causes us to see darker spots from the earth.
Centuries ago, the impact of objects on the moon was not common knowledge, and in different lands there were different legends about how the moon got those spots. Today I will share a legend from India, where instead of seeing a man on the moon, they see a hare on the moon.
The hare is called Hasit, and in our tale he was a great soul in disguise: he was none other than the one who was one day to be reborn as the Buddha. Living in the forest with his friends, the Monkey, the Jackal and the Otter, Hasit had knowledge of his life in the future, since he lived and practiced meditation and good conduct, the spirit of sacrifice and all kinds of justice. He did not eat on fast days, not even grass.
Then one day Monkey was out climbing trees looking for mangoes, Otter was fishing and Jackal was looking for meat, and Hasit was fasting. He began to think “what if we witness a beggar today, surely he should be fed and not despised; that is the universal rule, however, if a beggar appears today, I will have nothing to offer. If I have nothing to eat, not even grass, then what will I do? I will sacrifice my body for him.
As you will have read in other stories, when a wonderful vow like this is heard on earth, it rises to heaven and the king of the gods – Indra, his throne gets heated. His throne becomes very hot and uncomfortable, symbolizing that there is someone more venerable than the King of the gods. So now Indra, having learned that Hasit had promised to sacrifice himself, decided to put him to the test.
Indra came down to earth and took the form of a beggar. He first he went to the otter and asked for food. Otter offered him a fresh fish. He next saw Jackal, who had just found some meat, with some hesitance offered him that. Of course, when he got to Monkey, he took a mango with him. The king refused everyone, and said that he would return the next day.
The beggar, as he was leaving, ran into Hasit, who, without thinking, told the beggar to help him gather some wood to start a fire, and promised him that soon he would have a delicious and freshly cooked meal. Indra, in the form of a beggar, went and collected wood and began to light the fire. As soon as the fire had turned to embers, moved by compassion for the beggar’s hunger, Hasit threw himself into the fire. Oddly enough, the fire did not burn Hasit – it was as cold as the air above the clouds.
Hasit was stunned, looked around, with a questioning face, and asked the beggar. “What does this mean?”. It was then that Indra, King of the Gods, revealed his true form, and that he had come from heaven to test his sincerity and the virtue of his vow.
“You have wasted your time,” said Hasit, “I would give my body for the need of any creature that asks me.” Then the king of the gods replied: “That spirit of sacrifice that you have, Hasit, is not found anywhere, people must remember this gesture until the end of time, and for this I will draw your profile on the moon, so that the people look up, towards the heavens in search for answers, no one forgets your sacrificial spirit. And so it has been.