Jataka Tale Summaries #538-547

Muga-Pakkha Jataka (#538)

The Bodhisatta was once a crown prince. At one month old he remembered that kings must sometimes be cruel and thus they go to hell. He was an only child and to avoid becoming king he acted disabled, deaf, and mute, even though his parents tricked and tortured him trying to make him respond. When he turned sixteen, the king’s advisors said the Bodhisatta must be killed to avoid bad fortune. After he was taken outside the city and freed from his royal fate, the Bodhisatta got up and told the executioner to bring his parents to see him and they all became ascetics.

Mahajanaka Jataka (#539)

The Bodhisatta was once a widowed queen’s son. She fled to safety after her king died in battle. When the Bodhisatta came of age he decided to go to his father’s city and try to become king. The boat he traveled in sank and a goddess rescued him and took him to the kingdom where he was given the throne. After a long rule, the destruction of a mango tree inspired him to become an ascetic.

Sama Jataka (#540)

The Bodhisatta was once a son of two ascetics. Knowing they would go blind someday, Indra gave them a son. While out hunting, the king saw that animals were not afraid of the Bodhisatta and shot him with a poisoned arrow so he could talk to him briefly before he died. With the remorseful king’s help, the Bodhisatta’s parents’ prayers brought him back to life.

Nimi Jataka (#541)

The Bodhisatta was once a king. After eighty-four thousand years on the throne he found a grey hair on his head and decided to abdicate and live as an ascetic before going to heaven. The next eighty-four thousand less two generations of his descendants followed the same path through life, but it wasn’t enough to earn nirvana, so the Bodhisatta returned to Earth as the present king’s son to ensure the line would be finished. He was uncompromisingly generous and righteous, so Indra, king of the gods, invited him to visit heaven and on the way he took a detour to see hell. After returning to Earth he made his son the final king of the family’s cycle.

Khandahala Jataka (#542)

The Bodhisatta was once a crown prince. The king’s chaplain was corrupt, and when the Bodhisatta was appointed judge in his place his bribery income dried up. So the chaplain convinced the king that to get into heaven he needed to sacrifice some of his wives and children. Nobody could change the king’s mind and just as the Bodhisatta was about to become the first victim, Indra, king of the gods, came and saved everybody.

Bhuridatta Jataka (#543)

The Bodhisatta was once a naga king. His mother was a human, given as a gift to resolve a feud between his naga father and a human king that was started by a turtle who ran a scam to avoid being unjustly killed. The Bodhisatta was diligent about keeping the holy-day precepts and did so in the human realm where he would not be bothered. He was captured and tortured by a snake-charmer who took away his magic powers with a spell and forced him to perform in shows until his brother rescued him.

Mahanaradakassapa Jataka (#544)

The Bodhisatta was once a god in heaven. On one holy day, a righteous king went to discuss religion with a naked ascetic, and he convinced the king there is no karmic consequence to sin. The king began living his life purely for pleasure and his daughter tried unsuccessfully to sway the king away this false doctrine. Then the Bodhisatta came and his words put the king back on the path of righteousness.

Vidhurapandita Jataka (#545)

The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. Four kings wondered which of them possessed the greatest virtue, and when the Bodhisatta proclaimed them equal, word of his wisdom spread. A queen of the nagas wanted to hear him preach and told her king to bring her the Bodhisatta’s heart. She meant his wisdom, but the king took her words literally and sent a goblin assassin. The goblin won the Bodhisatta from the king in a dice game, but the Bodhisatta converted his would-be killer and survived.

Maha-Ummagga Jataka (#546)

The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. He was so smart he began his career at age seven after performing remarkable feats, fairly settling disputes, and solving difficult challenges. Over the years he always outwitted the other four royal advisors, and in their jealousy they tried to kill him. When a powerful king tried to conquer all of India, the Bodhisatta defeated him through clever schemes. Later the defeated king duped the Bodhisatta’s king with a false promise of marriage to his beautiful daughter and almost managed to kill him, but the Bodhisatta saved him by building a magnificent tunnel. The twice-defeated king repented and respected the Bodhisatta, who later went to work for him.

Vessantara Jataka (#547)

The Bodhisatta was once a prince. He was generous to a fault and one time gave away the kingdom’s auspicious white elephant, which guaranteed rainfall, to another kingdom that was suffering a drought. The citizens were so angry they forced his father to banish him, so he and his family went off to live as ascetics in the mountains. There he gave away his children and wife, achieving the supreme perfection of generosity. The elephant and his family were returned and the Bodhisatta was brought back to the city to be king.

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