The Bodhisatta was once a crown prince. After his mother died, the king sent the Bodhisatta away for twelve years (this was how many more years the royal soothsayers predicted the king would live) so his new queen could not kill him and put her own child on the throne. The king died after only nine years, but the Bodhisatta remained in exile and sent a pair of sandals to rule for the next three years until he could come and take the throne.
The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. When each prince finished his education, the king gave him a province to rule. But the Bodhisatta told the youngest prince to stay in the city. When his father died, the assistants chose the youngest as king, but his brothers were not happy about it. The Bodhisatta told him to give them each an equal share of the royal treasure and this led them to accept him as the king.
The Bodhisatta was once a sailor. After going blind, he worked briefly as a king’s appraiser, but soon returned to the seas. Then a ship he captained was blown terribly off course and appeared doomed, but after collecting much treasure he saved everyone’s life through his great virtue.
(Told in Jataka #536) The Bodhisatta was once a king. He caught his queen consort having an affair with a palace servant. Because all women are wicked, the Bodhisatta just stripped her of her rank instead of executing her.
The Bodhisatta was once a tree fairy. The king ordered the Bodhisatta’s tree cut down for building a new palace, and this meant the Bodhisatta would die. He asked the king to cut the tree down piece by piece to protect the surrounding trees, where his children lived. This concern for his family convinced the king to change his mind and spare the tree.
The Bodhisatta was once a carpenter. His entire village moved to live on a paradise island and they were told they must bury their excrement or the demons of the island would be furious. But while drunk many people forgot and the demons flooded the island; only people who followed the Bodhisatta survived because they had built a ship out of precaution.
The Bodhisatta was once a wise young man. A king became greedy and wanted to conquer other kingdoms. To teach the king a lesson, Indra, king of the gods, offered his help, but then scuttled the plan, and this made the king ill. The Bodhisatta cured him by explaining the misery caused by desire.
The Bodhisatta was once a king. He regularly preached about good behavior to his subjects.
The Bodhisatta was once Indra, king of the gods. Humans had become so wicked that none went to heaven when they died. So the Bodhisatta went to Earth with a giant hideous hound to scare mankind back onto the path of righteousness.
(Duplicate of Jataka #535) The Bodhisatta was once Indra, king of the gods. In his earthly life before this he was a royal treasurer and was wealthy and generous, as were his descendants. But when he divined that his descendant presently on Earth had stopped giving charity, the Bodhisatta went down to put him back on the righteous path.
(Told in Jataka #546) The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. The king saw a goat and a dog who were friends. He asked his advisors to figure out how it happened, and only the Bodhisatta was able.
The Bodhisatta was once a prince. His step-mother, the queen, tried to seduce him, but he refused. In anger she lied and got the king to throw him off a cliff, but a deity saved him. Later his father realized she was the guilty one and killed her.
The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. He explained to the king how to tell friend from foe.
The Bodhisatta was once an untouchable. He taught a young man his magic spell for getting mangoes out of season and when the king asked this man where he learned the spell, he said it was from a world-renowned teacher. Because of this lie, he forgot the spell and the Bodhisatta would not teach it again.
The Bodhisatta was once a tree fairy. One day a branch fell off his tree and struck a lion. Angry at the Bodhisatta, he told a carpenter to cut down the tree. To get revenge, the Bodhisatta materialized and told this man to put a strip of lion hide around his wheels. So the carpenter killed the lion before he cut down the tree.
The Bodhisatta was once a goose. Two young geese in his flock foolishly tried to race the sun, and the Bodhisatta had to rescue them. But he himself did fly faster than the sun and then used this feat to teach his friend, the king, about the impermanence of all things.
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 seduced the son. He decided to return to civilization with her, but when the Bodhisatta explained the many worldly dangers of living among men, the son changed his mind and remained an ascetic.
The Bodhisatta was once a student. He went begging for gold to pay his teacher, but dropped it in the Ganges River. So he sat silently on the riverbank until the king came to see him, and he gave the Bodhisatta more gold.
The Bodhisatta was once a king’s chaplain. Fortune-tellers for two kings from different kingdoms predicted that each would have a child become an ascetic and a grandchild become a universal monarch. The prophesy came true when a prince and princess who had each needed to flee to the forest met and fell in love. Their son became the universal monarch, and with the help of the Bodhisatta he paid honor to all Buddhas at the great Bodhi tree under which they had reached enlightenment.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. He lived alone and his virtue was so pure that Indra, king of the gods, went down to Earth to test him. For three days straight the Bodhisatta gave away all his food and was filled with joy. Impressed, Indra granted the Bodhisatta many wishes.
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