The Bodhisatta was once an iguana. His son was friends with a chameleon and the Bodhisatta told him to stop it because their friendship would eventually bring misery. But he did not listen to his father. Eventually the chameleon came to hate the iguana and led a hunter to their burrow. Anticipating this, the Bodhisatta had made an emergency escape tunnel and survived.
The Bodhisatta was once jackal. A man laid down in the charnel ground pretending to be dead so he could kill a jackal. The Bodhisatta figured out his intent and to make him look foolish tugged on his club. The man tightened his grip and the Bodhisatta mocked him.
The Bodhisatta was once a lion. He had a jackal servant who located animals for the Bodhisatta to hunt and then they shared the meat. One day the jackal decided he wanted to kill an elephant, and when he tried, the elephant crushed him to death.
The Bodhisatta was once a Fire God worshipper. Some hunters killed and ate an ox he planned to sacrifice and he was so disgusted that the god could not look after a special offering, he stopped worshiping it and went off to become an ascetic.
The Bodhisatta was once a parrot. He and his brother lived in the home of a brahmin, who treated them like his own children. When the brahmin went away for business, his wicked wife brought many lovers into the house and they told him about it when he returned.
The Bodhisatta was once a spirit of the sea. A pair of crows swam in the ocean and the female was eaten by a fish. Many crows attempted to save her by draining the sea with their beaks. Then the Bodhisatta made a ghost frighten them away in order to save them.
The Bodhisatta was once a spirit of the air. A poor woman wanted to wear special clothes to a festival and she convinced her husband to break into the royal park to steal some safflower for dyeing them. He was caught and impaled, and as he died he muttered that his greatest pain was not being able to see his wife in beautiful new clothes. The Bodhisatta saw all of this happen.
The Bodhisatta was once a jackal. He came upon a dead elephant and climbed inside to eat, staying for many days until all the meat was gone. His entrance hole had shrunk and when he squeezed his way out, all his fur got scraped off. Because of this, he renounced greediness.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. The Bodhisatta told a wicked young prince to taste a leaf from a seedling. It was poisonous, but mild because it was a small plant. When the tree grew, it would become deadly. The Bodhisatta said the prince was like the tree and the people of the kingdom would never allow someone with an attitude like his to become king. The prince understood the lesson and changed his ways.
The Bodhisatta was once a teacher. He taught one of his students the spell for raising the dead and when he used it on a tiger, it rose up and killed him. The Bodhisatta explained to his other students that you bring misfortune on yourself when you help the wicked.
The Bodhisatta was once a king. One day as he rode through his kingdom his carriage and that of another king met on a section of road too narrow for them to pass. The kings were of equal age and power, so the drivers compared virtues. The other king did good to good people and bad to bad people while the Bodhisatta bestowed good to all and was thus the superior.
The Bodhisatta was once a lion. A jackal, who lived in a crystal cave, fell in love with the Bodhisatta’s sister, which disgusted her. One by one the Bodhisatta’s brothers went to kill the jackal, and because they thought he was floating in the sky (the crystal was transparent) they leapt at him and died when they hit the wall. The Bodhisatta, on the other hand, roared so loud the jackal died of fear.
The Bodhisatta was once a lion. One day he saw a boar and, since he wasn’t hungry then, he planned to come back and eat it another day. So he tried to creep away quietly before the boar saw him. But the boar did see him, and thinking the Bodhisatta slunk away out of fear, the boar challenged him to a fight. The Bodhisatta said he would come back to fight in a week. The boar’s friends and relatives told him he would surely die, so the boar covered himself in feces and when the Bodhisatta returned he chose not to eat the boar because of the filth.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. A garuda gave chase to a naga who tried to hide by turning himself into a jewel and attaching himself to the Bodhisatta’s clothes. Out of reverence, the garuda did not attack and the Bodhisatta sat the two together to preach about loving-kindness and they later lived in harmony.
The Bodhisatta was once a brahmin’s son. One night he and his father had to sleep in a haunted building where a goblin ate anyone who failed to give a blessing after a sneeze. The Bodhisatta convinced the goblin to give up his evil ways.
The Bodhisatta was once a king. His father died shortly before he was born, and in the disarray following the death a rival king invaded. His father’s beloved state elephant, who was kind and generous to all, single-handedly defeated the enemy and protected the baby Bodhisatta until he was crowned king at age seven.
The Bodhisatta was once a lion. One day while out hunting he got stuck in mud and a jackal helped dig him out. They became good friends, but the Bodhisatta’s wife grew jealous and threatened to jackal’s wife to make them leave. Only then did the Bodhisatta tell his wife why they became friends, and then the two families lived happily together again.
The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. When some horse dealers came to town the greedy king released a savage horse of his to attack and injure their horses, then demanded a reduced price. The Bodhisatta told the dealers to bring a similar horse next time. Then the king’s savage horse went right to theirs and the two were friendly because they were alike.
The Bodhisatta was once a golden peacock. He lived deep in the Himalayas and many hunters tried to catch him for their king who believed eating a golden peacock would make him immortal. But because he chanted spells every day he was protected. One day a hunter brought a peahen to the Bodhisatta’s home making him get seized by lust and lose his protection, thus getting caught in a snare. The Bodhisatta told the king he would not become immortal and convinced to king to live righteously.
The Bodhisatta was once a king. A goose had two goose sons and one half-crow, half-goose son. The geese carried the half-crow on a stick between their beaks and when he saw the Bodhisatta in his carriage the half-crows commented that he was like the king and his half-brothers like the horses. This insulting air of superiority angered the three geese.
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