The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. Two kings were going to war and the Bodhisatta told people that Indra, king of the gods, had said which king was going to win. But the predicted loser’s advisor told him to attack the other king’s guardian spirit instead of directly attacking the king, and this strategy succeeded, overcoming Indra’s prediction.
The Bodhisatta was once a king. After suffering defeat in battle, he hid out incognito in a small village where a kind man cared for him. Later he repaid the man’s kindness by giving him half the kingdom.
(Duplicate of Jataka #282) The Bodhisatta was once a king. A former advisor who he had expelled convinced a rival king to conquer the Bodhisatta because, in order to avoid any deaths, he would not resist. While imprisoned, the Bodhisatta felt pity for his captor, which magically caused him pain and this made him realize it was a mistake to conquer a man as virtuous as the Bodhisatta, so he returned to his own kingdom.
The Bodhisatta was once a naga. His brother was cruel and got expelled from the kingdom. Living on a dung heap and listening to advice from the Bodhisatta humbled him.
The Bodhisatta was once a student. His teacher wanted to give his daughter in marriage to one of his students, and to test their virtue he asked his students to secretly steal for him. Only the Bodhisatta did not do it, so he won her hand.
The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. The queen had been a lowly fruit seller before marrying the king and one day, wanting to act high class, she asked what kind of fruit he was eating. This angered the king, but the Bodhisatta explained that prideful behavior like this is normal for women elevated to a high rank and told the king to forgive her.
The Bodhisatta was once a tree fairy. A man took good care of the Bodhisatta’s tree, so he rewarded the man with the treasure that was buried below it.
The Bodhisatta was once a woodpecker. A lion had a bone stuck in its throat and the Bodhisatta picked it out. The lion told him that not eating him when he had the chance was all the thanks he would get.
The Bodhisatta was once an untouchable. While trying to steal a mango from the king’s park, he saw the king sitting on a seat higher than his chaplain. The Bodhisatta called him out on this offence and the king, as thanks, made him co-king.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. A king asked the Bodhisatta to be his chaplain, but he said there was nothing that would make him give up living a simple, holy life.
The Bodhisatta was once a tree fairy. When a thief rested under his tree, the Bodhisatta told him to leave because thieves were punished by being impaled with a tree branch and he did not want his home to be damaged.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. Once while walking home, the Bodhisatta went ahead of his father and younger brother to prepare their huts. The brother grew annoyed with his father for walking slow and the father reacted by slowing them down even more. The Bodhisatta rebuked his father, saying he needed to be patient with young people.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. One time the king got angry and cut off the Bodhisatta’s hands, feet, nose, and ears. Through it all, the Bodhisatta showed perfect patience and did not get angry.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. The king heard frightening sounds from hell and his greedy chaplain organized a large human and animal sacrifice in response. But the Bodhisatta told the king the voices were condemned men trying to warn people on Earth about the terrors of hell, so the king cancelled the sacrifice.
The Bodhisatta was once a son of a wealthy merchant. Three of his friends approached a hunter to get some venison, addressing him as “you,” “brother,” and “father;” and each got pieces appropriate to their politeness. The Bodhisatta called the hunter “friend” and got the whole rest of the deer.
The Bodhisatta was once a hare. He ate only grass and one day realized he would have nothing to give a beggar who came asking for food. So he decided he would give his own flesh. Indra, king of the gods, came to test this vow and when he asked for food the Bodhisatta jumped into a fire. But Indra spared his life and painted his picture on the moon so everyone knew about his virtue.
The Bodhisatta was once a son of a wealthy merchant. After his parents died, his elder brother managed the family estate. When this brother died, the Bodhisatta was criticized for showing no sorrow, but he explained that sorrow is pointless because everything in the world is impermanent.
The Bodhisatta was once a thief. After he was captured, a high-class prostitute saw him and fell in love. She bribed his captors and had an innocent man executed in his place so the Bodhisatta could become her husband. Fearing she would someday fall in love with someone else and kill him, he soon fled.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. A hunter used a partridge as a decoy and the partridge felt remorse for helping kill other birds. The Bodhisatta assured him there’s no guilt when there’s no ill intent.
The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. As a prince was traveling to the city, his wife asked if a mountain turned to gold would he give her any, and he said no. After the prince became king he completely ignored his wife and the Bodhisatta shamed him into giving her the respect she deserved.
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