The Bodhisatta was once a golden deer. A queen dreamt 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 and he preached to the king and queen in the Bodhisatta’s place.
(Duplicate of Jataka #534) The Bodhisatta was once a golden goose. A queen dreamt 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 embracing, then start 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 was not actually following 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 until 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 an infant to his teenage years, he could not even look at a woman. His father, the king, wanted his son to be normal, so had one of his dancing girls seduce him. She was successful and he got so crazy in love that he threatened people if they even came near this woman. He was banished to the wilderness where he realized the errors of his ways and renounced the world to live alone.
(Told in Jataka #546) The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. His other four advisors convinced the king the Bodhisatta was a traitor because he said secrets should never be shared. The Bodhisatta exposed terrible secrets of all the other men, which both proved that keeping secrets was the best policy and that the other four advisors 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 the 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. When he first saw the beauty of the world he realized that though he had left the iron house, he could not escape death, so he became an ascetic.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. Before this, he was a king who faithfully observed the holy-day precepts. His chaplain was a sinner who did not, though one time shortly before he died, he did follow them 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, but to save his father’s life, the Bodhisatta swapped places with him. His fearlessness allowed him to convert the ogre and save his own life. 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 send a hunter to kill the Bodhisatta. Her wish came true and she sent a man on the long quest to kill him. When she learned that 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 it, 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 giving 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 rocks to make themselves heavy, so the Bodhisatta lifted the naga king’s tail making the rocks fall out. But the Bodhisatta had a change of heart and chose to stop fighting with naga.
The Bodhisatta was once a king. His son suffered leprosy and was cared for by his devoted wife. One day a goblin seized her and said she had to choose to be his wife or his meal, but Indra, king of the gods, saved her. The prince was angry she returned late and assumed she’d been with another man. She spoke an Act of Truth to prove her love and this cured his leprosy.
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 first hand, and after he did he become a vigilant, righteous ruler.
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