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 would 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 that the Bodhisatta had expelled convinced a rival king to conquer him because, in order to avoid any deaths, the Bodhisatta 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 dunghill 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. 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 buried below it.
The Bodhisatta was once a woodpecker. A lion had a bone stuck in his 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 offense, 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. Thieves were punished by being impaled with tree branches, and he did not want his home to be damaged. So when a thief rested under his tree, the Bodhisatta helped him escape.
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 slowly, and the father reacted by delaying them 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 annoyed 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 canceled 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 rest of the deer.
The Bodhisatta was once a hare. He ate only grass and one day realized he would have nothing to give any beggars who came asking for food. So he vowed to give his own flesh. Indra, king of the gods, came to test this pledge, 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, people criticized the Bodhisatta 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 is no guilt when there is no ill intent.
The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. As a prince was traveling to the city, his wife asked him if a mountain turned to gold whether he would give her any of it, and he said no. After the prince became king, he completely ignored his wife, so the Bodhisatta shamed him into giving her the respect she deserved.
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