The Bodhisatta was once a king. Before this, he was a poor laborer who died while keeping a holy-day fast. As king, he befriended a poor man out walking in the scorching heat to collect a half-penny and made this man co-king. The Bodhisatta was so happy to not have any strong desires that he wrote a song, and his queen schemed with the barber to learn its meaning, which revealed the king’s past as a poor man.
The Bodhisatta was once a king’s chaplain. He retired to become an ascetic and gave the job to his son. The king wanted the Bodhisatta’s brother to be his chaplain, but the brother could not do anything about it because he was younger. So the king declared that the brother was really the elder. This was the first lie ever told, and because the king would not retract it, he went to hell.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. One of his chief disciples became infatuated with a prostitute he had seen from afar and stopped eating and meditating. The Bodhisatta broke him of his affliction by explaining that happiness is tied to misery, so you cannot have one without the other.
The Bodhisatta was once a king. Irritated that his alms went to worthless, greedy people, he made a grand donation to some private Buddhas (those who reach enlightenment on their own and do not teach the path to others).
The Bodhisatta was once a wealthy merchant. Late one night, he did not have the money to pay his favorite prostitute, so he asked her if he could pay the next day. She refused, and this made him so disgusted with women that he became an ascetic. She apologized, but he said he would only consider returning if something impossible happened, such as a winter coat being woven out of tortoise hair.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. A female goat got separated from her herd and ran into a panther. She first tried to sweet-talk it into sparing her life, then she tried talking tough, and then begging. But nothing worked, and the panther ate her. The Bodhisatta saw this happen.
The Bodhisatta was once a vulture. He warned his son, who cared for him and his mother in their old age, not to fly too high, but he ignored this advice and was smashed to death by fierce winds. The Bodhisatta criticized those who ignore advice from their elders.
(Duplicate of Jataka #371) The Bodhisatta was once a prince. A king had conquered the Bodhisatta’s kingdom and killed his parents. To seek revenge, he became this king’s assistant. When the opportunity arrived, the Bodhisatta threatened to kill him, but didn’t. The king repented and gave him back the family kingdom.
The Bodhisatta was once a parrot. He loved living in a particular fig tree, and after it stopped bearing fruit and died, he remained out of loyalty. Indra, king of the gods, was so impressed that he gave the tree life again.
(Duplicate of Jataka #429) The Bodhisatta was once a parrot. He loved living in a particular fig tree, and after it stopped bearing fruit and died, he remained out of loyalty. Indra, king of the gods, was so impressed that he gave the tree life again.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. While staying in the royal park one time, he saw the queen naked; and overcome with lust, they began an affair. When the king asked about it, the Bodhisatta confessed and was able to overcome his desire.
The Bodhisatta was once a boy. His mother was a goblin, and she gave him the power to follow footsteps. The king hired him as a tracker and wanted to test his skills, so he hid some royal jewels and challenged the Bodhisatta to find them, which he did. The foolish king also insisted the Bodhisatta identify the thief, and when he did, the people of the kingdom were so appalled they killed the king and gave the Bodhisatta the throne.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. Indra, king of the gods, was jealous of the Bodhisatta’s intense virtue and schemed with the king to destroy it. The king offered his gorgeous daughter as a wife if the Bodhisatta performed an animal sacrifice. Struck by lust, he agreed, but then came to his senses and refused.
The Bodhisatta was once a golden goose. A greedy crow wanted to eat the same fine foods as the Bodhisatta, thinking it would make him beautiful. But the Bodhisatta explained that his beauty was due to good behavior, not good food.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. After his wife died, he took his son and began a new religious life in the Himalayas. Many years later, a woman came upon their home and wanted the son as a husband. She knew if they returned to civilization he would be under her power, and she convinced him to go. But when the Bodhisatta explained that it was difficult to find good people to rely on, the son changed his mind and remained an ascetic.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. A demon who lived nearby captured a woman to be his wife and kept her in a box in his stomach. When he let her out to bathe one time, she invited a magician to join her in the box. Later, the Bodhisatta told the demon there were two people in his stomach, and the demon sent the unfaithful woman away.
The Bodhisatta was once a tree fairy. A pair of jackals killed all but one of a herd of goats. The she-jackal tricked the last goat into approaching her husband, who was playing dead so that he could kill her. But he lifted his head, ruining the plan.
The Bodhisatta was once a partridge. He lived with a teacher of the sacred texts, and when the teacher died, the Bodhisatta took over his classes. One day a wicked ascetic ate the Bodhisatta and some other animals who lived at the school, so a tiger friend of the Bodhisatta killed the ascetic.
The Bodhisatta was once Indra, king of the gods. A merchant who rejected religion and mistreated his mother sailed out to sea on a trading voyage. Soon after, he was set adrift on a raft for bringing bad luck to the ship. He spent time on several islands with blissful spirits, then he arrived in hell and had to carry a heavy razor wheel on his head. The Bodhisatta told him this was his punishment for a life of greed.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. He was so virtuous that Indra, king of the gods, came to listen to him preach and grant him wishes.
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