In the city of Ujjain, there lived a Brahmin called Madhava. One day, his wife went out to have a bath, leaving their infant son in his care. Meanwhile, the Brahmin received an invitation from the king to present himself at court, to receive gifts. It was a day of celebration.
The Brahmin, who was very poor, thought to himself,”Well! If I don’t leave for the king’s palace right now, then some other Brahmin will get these gifts. I’d better hurry up. But there is no one here to look after the baby. What shall I do?” He spied his pet mongoose and thought, “This mongoose has been brought up like my own son. I think I’ll leave my child to his care while I’m away.”
Thus he left for the king’s palace. While the mongoose kept guard over the child, he saw a snake crawling towards the infant. He sprang on the snake and killed him. When the Brahmin returned, the faithful mongoose rushed out to greet his master and rolled at his feet.
When the Brahmin noticed the mongoose’s face covered with blood, he thought, “Good heavens! He has killed my son.” Without thinking further, he killed the mongoose. When the Brahmin went inside, he found his child alive and sleeping comfortably, nearby, a snake lay dead on the ground.
The mongoose’s selfless devotion dawned on the Brahmin and he felt wretched for what he had done. Filled with remorse he thought, “How true! If one acts in haste, one repents forever.”