The Bodhisatta was once a golden deer. A queen dreamed that she heard a sermon from a golden deer, and the king hired a hunter to catch one. When the Bodhisatta got caught, his brother and sister convinced the hunter to set the Bodhisatta free. To thank the hunter, the Bodhisatta taught him about the holy life so he could preach to the king and queen in the Bodhisatta’s place.
(Duplicate of Jataka #534) The Bodhisatta was once a golden goose. A queen dreamed that she heard a sermon from golden geese, and the king hired a hunter to catch some. When the Bodhisatta got caught in the hunter’s snare, his commander-in-chief wouldn’t leave his side and convinced the hunter to set the Bodhisatta free. To thank the hunter, they went to the palace to preach.
The Bodhisatta was once a parrot. He grew up in a monastery while his brother was raised in a village full of robbers, and they both turned out like the people around them. When a king went hunting, he met both parrots.
The Bodhisatta was once a king. He saw two fairies in a forest who were embracing, suddenly star to cry. They told him it was because long ago they had needed to spend a night apart due to a storm, and they loved each other so much they still had lingering sorrow.
The Bodhisatta was once a prince. As a child, he discovered that an ascetic supported by his father did not actually follow a religious life. To keep his secret, the false ascetic faked an attack and blamed it on the Bodhisatta, prompting the king to call for his son’s death. But soon, the truth was discovered.
The Bodhisatta was once a man from a poor family and then a naga king in back-to-back lives. As a child, he saw some nagas and wanted rebirth in their magnificent realm for his next life, and he got his wish. But he was not happy there, and to ensure his next rebirth was back in the human realm, he went there on the holy days. He was captured by a snake charmer and forced to perform in shows until his queen rescued him.
(Duplicate of Jataka #263) The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. From infancy to his teenage years, he could not even look at a woman. His father, the king, wanted his son to be normal, so he had one of his dancing girls seduce him. She was successful, and he fell so crazily in love that he threatened people if they even came near this woman. He was banished to the wilderness, where he realized the error of his ways and renounced the world to live alone as an ascetic.
(Told in Jataka #546) The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. His other four advisors convinced the king that the Bodhisatta was a traitor because he said secrets should never be shared. The Bodhisatta exposed terrible secrets of these four men, which both proved that keeping secrets was the best policy and that they were the real traitors.
The Bodhisatta was once a royal chaplain’s son. When he came of age, he went to the Himalayas to live as an ascetic under the care of Indra. Soon after, his family, several kings, and hundreds of thousands of other people joined him in his religious life.
The Bodhisatta was once a prince. After the queen’s first two children were eaten by a goblin, the king built an iron house for his third, the Bodhisatta, who didn’t leave it until age sixteen. After he first saw the beauty of the world, he thought about impermanence and became an ascetic.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. Before this, he was a king who faithfully observed the holy days. His chaplain was a sinner who did not, though one time shortly before he died, he did keep the precepts for half a day. Because of this, he was reborn in dual states, blissful at night and anguished during the day. After the Bodhisatta became an ascetic, he craved delicious mangoes, so the former chaplain floated them down the river for him to eat.
The Bodhisatta was once Indra, king of the gods. It was at this time that alcohol was discovered, and many people became idle wretches. In one city, the Bodhisatta came and explained the dangers of alcohol to the king, who destroyed all the jars in his city.
The Bodhisatta was once a prince. The king was captured by an ogre. To save his father’s life, the Bodhisatta swapped places with him, and his virtue was so great he was able to convert the ogre to righteousness. Then he realized the ogre was actually his uncle who had been abducted by an ogress on the day he was born.
The Bodhisatta was once an elephant. He had two queens, and out of jealousy one of them prayed to be reborn as a human queen so she could kill the Bodhisatta. Her wish came true, and she sent a hunter to do the job. When she learned he had succeeded, she died of sorrow.
The Bodhisatta was once a royal chaplain’s son. Another king wanted to know what was good and true and sent someone to get the answer. After several wise men, including the Bodhisatta’s father, said they could not answer the question, he went to the seven-year-old Bodhisatta, who told him to always be righteous.
The Bodhisatta was once a monkey. A farmer got lost, and the Bodhisatta rescued him from the bottom of a gorge. After being saved, the hungry farmer tried to kill and eat him. As a result, he became a leper and went to hell.
(Told in Jataka #546) The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. He was unsure if the king wanted to kill him, so he had an ascetic ask him the Water Demon Question: in what order would you hand over certain people to a water demon who demanded a human sacrifice? The king said he would give himself before the Bodhisatta because he was without sin.
The Bodhisatta was once a garuda king. A false ascetic told the Bodhisatta that nagas’ secret defense against garuda attacks was eating stones to make themselves heavy, so the Bodhisatta lifted the naga king’s tail, making the stones fall out. But the Bodhisatta had a change of heart and stopped killing nagas.
The Bodhisatta was once a king. His son suffered leprosy and was cared for by his devoted wife. She spoke an act of truth (a solemn declaration of one’s supreme virtue followed by a request for some miraculous result) to prove her love and this cured his leprosy. After the prince became king, he completely ignored his wife, so the Bodhisatta shamed him into giving her the respect she deserved.
The Bodhisatta was once a tree fairy. The king was wicked, and as a result, society collapsed. The Bodhisatta told him to go out and see his people’s suffering firsthand. After he did, he became a vigilant, righteous ruler.
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