The Bodhisatta was once a student of a king’s chaplain. The chaplain schemed to get rid of his wife’s lover, who looked just like him, in a sacrificial ceremony for building a new city gate. The lover escaped, so the king made the Bodhisatta his new chaplain and sent the old chaplain to be sacrificed instead. The Bodhisatta secretly set him free.
The Bodhisatta was once a golden deer. He saved a wicked man from drowning, and later, when the queen wanted to have a golden deer preach to her, this man divulged the Bodhisatta’s location so he could collect a big reward.
The Bodhisatta was once a deer. A king giving chase trying to kill the Bodhisatta fell into a pit and was about to drown. The Bodhisatta rescued him, and after this, the king started to live righteously. But Indra, king of the gods, had to come down to earth to make the king tell people about the Bodhisatta’s noble act that led to his conversion.
The Bodhisatta was once a parrot. His flock ate so much from a wealthy brahmin’s rice field that the brahmin had the Bodhisatta snared so they could talk. He explained that he took food home every day to care for his parents. The brahmin was impressed by his righteousness and gave the parrots some land as a permanent feeding ground.
The Bodhisatta was once a kinnara, a half-human, half-bird deity. A king shot the Bodhisatta with a poison arrow so he could take his wife as queen, but she refused his offer, and he went away. Then Indra, king of the gods, came down and healed him.
The Bodhisatta was once a lion. Some hunters tried to kill the young sons of his hawk friends, and he, along with an osprey and a turtle, thwarted the hunters and saved the hawks’ lives.
The Bodhisatta was once a king’s chaplain. He impregnated a slave girl, but did not keep in contact. When their son grew up, he became an ascetic without real religious knowledge. Later, father and son met, and the Bodhisatta hired him as his assistant and taught him proper practice.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. Indra, king of the gods, tested the Bodhisatta’s virtue by making his food disappear for three days. After the others in the camp denied taking it with a vow to suffer if they did, Indra confessed.
The Bodhisatta was once Indra, king of the gods. After a king was unable to conceive a child of his own, the Bodhisatta gave him a son. Later, when this prince was going to replace his father on the throne, the Bodhisatta sent a dancer from heaven to make him smile during his long, extravagant coronation ceremony.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. He lived in a forest with a pigeon, snake, jackal, and bear as neighbors. One day these animals all suffered misfortune, so they fasted to calm their emotions. That same day, a private Buddha (those who reach enlightenment on their own and do not teach the path to others) told the Bodhisatta that one day he would become a perfect Buddha, and he needed to subdue his pride. In the end, they all had spiritual breakthroughs.
The Bodhisatta was once a golden peacock. He lived deep in the Himalayas, and many hunters tried to snare him for their king, but he was protected because he chanted spells every day. One day a hunter brought a peahen to the Bodhisatta’s home, making him feel lust and lose his protection, thus getting caught in a snare. But the hunter repented and set him free.
(Duplicate of Jataka #283) The Bodhisatta was once a tree fairy. A clever boar met some others who were attacked by a tiger every morning. The clever boar managed to kill the tiger and his friend, a wicked false ascetic who also ate their meat, and the other boars made him their king. The Bodhisatta praised the boars for working together in unity.
The Bodhisatta was once a merchant. While lost during an oxcart caravan, he and the men cut off the branches of a magic tree to get water, food, women, and treasure. The men then wanted to cut down the whole tree, and the naga king who lived there killed them because of their greed. Only the Bodhisatta, who opposed their plan, was spared.
The Bodhisatta was once a king. He always observed the holy days and was so righteous and generous that Indra, king of the gods, invited him to live in heaven. He stayed there for seven hundred years, then returned to earth and gave away alms for seven days, dying on the last and being born back in Indra’s heaven.
The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. The king was annoyed that his alms went to bad people, so at his request, the Bodhisatta invited private Buddhas (those who reach enlightenment on their own and do not teach the path to others) to come receive gifts.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. A wealthy landowner gave food to the king, who gave it to his chaplain, who offered it to the Bodhisatta, who passed it to a private Buddha (those who reach enlightenment on their own and do not teach the path to others) because each had greater virtue than they did.
The Bodhisatta was once an untouchable. A woman was repulsed by the Bodhisatta, but he pestered her family so persistently that they gave her to him as a wife. In order to honor her, he went to live alone as an ascetic, and with his new supernatural powers he made people worship her like a goddess. Later, he convinced his son to stop giving alms to some sinful brahmins, and they had the Bodhisatta killed.
The Bodhisatta was once an untouchable; and then a deer, osprey, and ascetic. He lived these four lives together with his best friend. In the last life, the friend became king. When they were both old, the Bodhisatta visited him, announcing his surprise arrival by having a child sing a song to the king. Then he convinced the king to join him in the ascetic life.
The Bodhisatta was once a king. He was so generous that he vowed to give a piece of himself to anyone who asked for it. Indra, king of the gods, came down to earth in the form of a blind old man and asked for the Bodhisatta’s eyes to test if his vow was genuine; and it was. Soon after, the Bodhisatta spoke an act of truth (a solemn declaration of one’s supreme virtue followed by a request for some miraculous result) and grew new eyes.
(Told in Jataka #546) The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. The king asked both the Bodhisatta and his chief advisor whether wealth or wisdom was better. The Bodhisatta answered wisdom, and his explanation impressed everyone.
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