Mar 16, 2023
Martin Goodson

The Anger Eating Demon

Stories from the Buddhist Tradition

A demon which feeds on anger finds plenty to chew on at the court of King Shaka.

A portrait of a bad demon in his throne.



In the great pantheon of Indian deities, it is Shaka who rules them all. In the high heavens he has a great palace full of divine, semi-divine and other powerful beings who make up the Royal court.

One day, Shaka was away on business and the throne room hosted a large number of rather bored courtiers. With Shaka not around they didn't have much to do and so they fell to gossiping amongst themselves. No one noticed that a side door surreptitiously opened and in crept a small rather nondescript little demon. He inched himself along the wall taking care not to knock anything over and was very easily able, under the noses of these great and important people, to arrive at his destination - the golden throne of Shaka, King of the gods.

Although he was small this demon was agile and, despite the fact that the throne was very large, he managed to climb all the way up to the great seat on which Shaka himself sat. The little demon made himself comfortable and began to swing his legs and to wait. It was not long before someone saw him.

The person who first saw him was a minor official but he happened to be talking to one of the senior civil servants. As is often the case, in royal circles, there are strict protocols about everything. The idea of anyone other than the king sitting on the throne is a complete no no!

The minor official gasped in horror!

"Look, look! Have you seen? Who does that little demon think he is!" And with that the official pointed an accusing finger towards the throne. The senior civil servant turned his head to look "How dare he! The impudence!”

The officials turned to others nearby and soon the news spread throughout the throne room like a wildfire. What these eminent persons did not realise was that this little demon was an anger-eating demon, who had come to feed on all their irritations, outrage, annoyances and anger. As they continued to point and to condemn, the little demon began to grow. Before very long this little demon was a middling-sized demon.

"Just look at him." said one official "How he puffs himself up like that."

The demon continued to grow and it was not long until that nondescript little thing had become a Great Demon who filled the throne of Shaka himself.

"Look at him now, he is as big as Lord Shaka. What will happen when the king returns?"

At this, the demon swelled up and became even greater in proportion and size; he was now larger than the king himself. It was at this moment that anger and outrage turned to fear!

"Will Shaka be able to oust him?" Said one "if he cannot what will happen to us?" They were all looking very panicky and at that moment the great doors opened and in walked the King.

Shaka looked at the scene before him. His officials trying to hide behind each other, rushing about like chickens when a fox breaks in to their run. Shaka also saw the Great Demon now far bigger than himself seated imperiously on the great golden throne that was rightfully his.

Without pausing any further Shaka strode over to the throne and, going down on one knee, held up his hands pressing the palms together in supplication and looking the Demon in the eye and said

"I, Shaka, king of the gods, greet you.” At this, a strange thing began to happen. The Great Demon appeared to deflate slightly. It was as if a balloon having been inflated began to lose gas and thus began to shrink.

A second time,"I, Shaka, King of the gods greet you" and again the Demon deflated and was once more just the middling size Demon sat on the great golden throne.

A third time "I, Shaka, King of the gods greet you", and with this Shaka bowed his head to that middle-sized demon, who now fully deflated further until he was once more a rather little, nondescript thing.

Small he may have been, but agile he was and like the wind he shot off the throne, zig-zagging his way through the melee of courtiers who tried to grab him, but all failed. He made it to the side door that was still ajar and slipped away.

The Great King sat himself down on the now vacant throne and looked very sternly at this chastened, yet relieved, courtiers.

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