The Bodhisatta was once a teacher. Long before this, a monk grew jealous of another and discarded food that he was tasked with delivering to him. As punishment the monk was reborn as a poor child who was abandoned by his family. He was given a place in the Bodhisatta’s charity school, but was kicked out for bad behavior. His misfortune continued for many years until finally he was arrested and the Bodhisatta saved him from punishment by taking him on as a slave.
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 an ascetic. One of his students kept a pet viper and the Bodhisatta warned him that someday it would kill him. But the student loved the snake and did not let it go. Soon after, he got bit and died.
The Bodhisatta was once a merchant. One day he was at a carpenter’s home when the man got bit on the head by a mosquito and he told his son to swat it away. The boy picked up an axe and hit the mosquito, splitting his father’s head into two in the process. The Buddha told those around him that smart enemies are better than stupid friends.
The Bodhisatta was once a royal treasurer. Bothered by flies, the mother of one of his slaves asked her daughter to shoo them away. Without thinking, the daughter hit one with her pestle and accidentally killed her mother. The Bodhisatta told those around him that smart enemies are better than stupid friends.
The Bodhisatta was once a wise and respected man. The king’s gardener asked the monkeys living in the royal park to water plants for him. To conserve water they pulled up the plants to see the size of their roots so they could give them the appropriate amount. The Bodhisatta saw this and said ignorant people who desire to do good end up doing harm.
The Bodhisatta was once a royal treasurer. An apprentice tavern-keeper saw that customers liked to eat salt with their snacks so he put some in the grog, ruining the whole batch and angering the customers. The Bodhisatta said this was an example of how ignorant people who desire to do good end up doing harm.
The Bodhisatta was once a student. His teacher knew a spell that caused treasure to rain from the sky. The two were captured by bandits and the teacher cast the spell to buy their freedom, but then they were captured by a second gang. The teacher could not cast his spell again so the bandits fought each other and everybody died except the Bodhisatta who took the treasure and gave it to the poor.
The Bodhisatta was once a wise and respected man. Some town folk had arranged a marriage to a country girl and set the date with her family. Then they asked an ascetic if the day was lucky and he said no. So the family stayed home on the chosen day and the bride’s family gave her away to another man. The townsfolk went the next day and the Bodhisatta told them that consulting the stars is a foolish habit.
The Bodhisatta was once a king. The people of the city used to make animal sacrifices to the gods and he devised a scheme to stop this. He lied that he had vowed to a tree fairy that if he became king he would offer the flesh of one thousand subjects who did bad things. After this, nobody ever broke the commandments again.
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. Buried up to his neck to be eaten by jackals, the Bodhisatta managed to escape and this convinced the invading king it was a mistake to conquer a man as virtuous as the Bodhisatta, so he returned to his own kingdom.
(Duplicate of Jataka #539) The Bodhisatta was once a widowed queen’s son. She fled to safety after her king died in battle. When the Bodhisatta came of age he decided to go to his father’s city and try to become king. The boat he traveled in sank and a goddess rescued him and took him to the kingdom where he was given the throne. After a long rule, the destruction of a mango tree inspired him to become an ascetic.
The Bodhisatta was once a royal treasurer. Some men invited him to drink liquor and he assumed it was a ruse to rob him. To expose them he agreed to join them later. When he returned their bowls were still full (if it was good liquor they would have drank some) so he knew his suspicions were right.
The Bodhisatta was once a merchant. During a caravan trip some of his men ignored his advice and ate a poisonous fruit that looked exactly like a mango. The Bodhisatta saved them with a lifesaving elixir and impressed local villagers who normally took the property of people who died after eating the fruit.
The Bodhisatta was once a crown prince. While traveling home one time he encountered a fearsome ogre and tried to kill it, but was unable because his weapons could not penetrate its shaggy fur. But the ogre, impressed by his bravery, decided not to kill the Bodhisatta. He then preached to the ogre who gave up his evil ways.
The Bodhisatta was once a farmer. One day his plow struck a giant gold bar. He couldn’t lift it, so he cut it into four pieces and carried each to his home.
The Bodhisatta was once a monkey. Every day he went to eat fruit on an island in the river by hopping onto a lone rock between the island and the shore. A crocodile once sat on the rock trying to eat the Bodhisatta, but he outwitted the crocodile by convincing it to open its mouth. The Bodhisatta knew that when crocodiles open their jaws they close their eyes, so he was able to jump on the crocodile’s head and get across the river safely.
The Bodhisatta was once a monkey. The king of his troop feared being overthrown and so castrated all newborn males. When the Bodhisatta’s mother got pregnant by the king she fled, but when the Bodhisatta reached adulthood he went to see his father. The king twice tried to kill the Bodhisatta, but failed, and the Bodhisatta became the new king.
The Bodhisatta was once a village drummer. One time while traveling through a forest he told his son not to play his drum continuously or it would attract thieves. But his son did not listen and they got robbed.
The Bodhisatta was once a village conch-blower. One time while traveling through a forest he told his father not to blow the conch continuously or it would attract thieves. But his father did not listen and they got robbed.
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