The kingdom of Sibi produced many virtuous kings of whom was the son and successor of King Ushinara. This new Sibi king was known for his philanthrophy among his other virtues.
One day, Indra and Agni came to test this. The two deities disguised themselves as a hawk and a pigeon. The hawk started chasing the pigeon who fell on King Sibi’s lap trembling with fear.
The hawk demanded the king to surrender the pigeon as its prey. This the king refused, as he decided to protect the poor thing who had taken refuge under his protection. After much argument the hawk agreed to leave the pigeon alone if the king would offer a piece of flesh from his own body which was equivalent to the weight of the pigeon.
The king was more than happy to make such a sacrifice. Strangely, after endlessly cutting off his own flesh from different parts of his body and putting it on the scale, the king found that the pigeon still overweighed. Then the king threw his entire body to the scale even then he could not equalise the weight of the bird. At this point the hawk and the pigeon revealed their true identity and offered boons to the king for his unbounded charitable spirit.
There are many versions of the Sibi Jataka and the one narrated above is found in the Mahabharata.
In the Jatakamala the story of Sibi is somewhat different. Indra came as a blind person to king Sibi and asked him to donate one of his eyes so that he could regain his sight partially. Sibi, however, offered both eyes for the complete restoration of the blind man’s sight. The ready willingness of king Sibi to sacrifice both his eyes moved Indra into revealing his true form and going away after giving boons to the king.
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