The Bodhisatta was once a vulture. He warned his son not to fly too high, but he ignored this advice and was smashed to death by fierce winds. His death brought suffering to his family.
The Bodhisatta was once a merchant. He was thoroughly righteous and kept a special couch in his home in case anyone purer than he ever visited. Two goddesses quarreled about who should bathe first and the matter was settled when the Bodhisatta invited one of them to sit on his couch.
The Bodhisatta was once a wild chicken. A female cat wanted to eat the Bodhisatta and tried unsuccessfully to deceive him into marriage so she could get close to him.
The Bodhisatta was once a bird. A crow arrived and told the flock he was a holy man. They believed him and so asked him to watch their nests while they went to feed. While they were gone, the crow ate eggs and chicks. When the Bodhisatta knew the crow was the one who did it, he killed him.
The Bodhisatta was once a deer. When his herd was rounded up into an enclosure for easy hunting, the Bodhisatta sacrificed himself to save his parents. Then when the king was about to shoot him, the Bodhisatta won over the king with his great virtue, and from then on he forbid killing all animals in the park.
The Bodhisatta was once Indra, king of the gods. An earthly king saved the life of a naga king. As thanks the naga taught him a spell to let him understand animals. He would die if he taught it to anyone else, but the queen convinced him to give it to her. The Bodhisatta came to Earth as a goat and suggested the king tell the queen that to learn the spell she must get lashed without crying out. When the beatings began she begged him to stop, but he continued to beat her as punishment for her selfishness.
The Bodhisatta was once a blacksmith. He made the greatest needle ever in order to impress the father of a beautiful women and win her hand in marriage.
The Bodhisatta was once a wild boar. He and his brother were raised by a woman and when she sold the brother as meat, the Bodhisatta told him to accept his fate gracefully in such a perfect manner that the king took both the pigs to live in the palace.
The Bodhisatta was once a farmer. At the behest of a crow, whose wife wanted to eat the Bodhisatta’s beautiful eyes, a snake bit the Bodhisatta. As the Bodhisatta lay on the ground, his crab friend grabbed the snake and crow by the neck with his claws, and after the snake sucked the venom out of the wound, reviving the Bodhisatta, the crab killed them both.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. When he chose to renounce the world, he gave his wealth, wife, and son to his greedy brother who stopped giving alms and killed the son so he’d have the entire fortune to himself. When he learned of this, the Bodhisatta came back to rebuke him and the brother started giving charity again.
The Bodhisatta was once Indra, king of the gods. After a false ascetic raped his chief queen, the king banished all religious men. Because of this, his subjects became wicked and went to hell. So the Bodhisatta went to Earth to change the king’s mind and put people back on the path of righteousness.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. He smelled a lotus and a tree fairy accused him of stealing its perfume. He thanked her for helping him stay pure.
The Bodhisatta was once Indra, king of the gods. Seven brothers had become ascetics, but they were not diligent in their practice. The Bodhisatta went to Earth in the form of a parrot to shame them by speaking praise of proper ascetics.
The Bodhisatta was once a quail. He was plump and healthy because he had a happy, stress-free life while a crow who ate fatty carrion was thin because he lived in constant worry.
(Duplicate of Jataka #42) The Bodhisatta was once a pigeon. A greedy crow wanted to eat fish from the kitchen where the Bodhisatta lived, so he befriended him and moved in. The Bodhisatta knew the crow’s intention and told him not to do it, but the crow didn’t listen. When he tried to steal some fish he was caught, defeathered, and killed.
The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. The king was wicked and the Bodhisatta got him to change his ways through parable: small roof rafters working together are strong enough to support a big ridge, a citron tastes bad if you don’t peel it, and a lotus flower rising above the water does not get soiled by mud.
The Bodhisatta was once a lion. Ignoring his father’s warnings, the Bodhisatta’s son befriended a jackal who convinced him to eat the king’s horses. One time while killing a horse, the son was shot dead, as the Bodhisatta had predicted.
The Bodhisatta was once a poor householder. To save his life, a king made a deal with a goblin to send him a prisoner to eat each day. When the jails were empty, the king offered one thousand coins to anyone who would risk their life to take food to the goblin, and the Bodhisatta did it so his mother could live comfortably. The Bodhisatta was so clever that he convinced the goblin to stop eating people.
The Bodhisatta was once a vulture. He cared for his elderly parents, and when he got caught in a hunter’s snare he cried out his lament that when he died, they would die. The hunter was impressed by his virtue and set him free.
The Bodhisatta was once a tree fairy. Two otters caught a fish but argued over how to divide it, so they asked a jackal to do it. He gave the tail to one, the head to the other, and took the middle for himself.
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