The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. One rainy season he sent his students to live in the city, and when there was a drinking festival they all got drunk. They were so ashamed they returned to the Bodhisatta early.
(Duplicate of Jataka #439) The Bodhisatta was once Indra, king of the gods. A merchant who rejected religion and mistreated his mother set out to sea on a trading voyage and was set adrift on a raft for bringing bad luck to the ship. He spent time on several islands with blissful spirits and then arrived in hell where he was forced to carry a heavy razor wheel on his head. The Bodhisatta told him this was his punishment for a life of greed.
The Bodhisatta was once a treasurer. He hired one of his childhood friends, a poor man named Curse, to look after his property. The Bodhisatta’s friends warned him against the unlucky name, but he dismissed their superstition and when Curse cleverly foiled a robbery the friends respected him.
The Bodhisatta was once a treasurer. His son asked him how to care for his spiritual welfare and he told him be healthy, seek goodness, be righteous, listen to elders, study the scriptures, be truthful, and do not get attached to things.
The Bodhisatta was once a merchant. During an oxcart caravan trip he warned his men to check with him before eating any unfamiliar fruit. But some of them ignored the advice and died.
The Bodhisatta was once a king’s chaplain. He wanted to know if the king gave him more honor than anyone else because of his virtue or his lineage, so he stole some coins. The king sentenced him to death and from this the Bodhisatta knew he was judged on virtue. He was forgiven and became an ascetic.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. A brahmin priest found a suit that had been gnawed by mice and he believed it was cursed, so he discarded it with the corpses in the charnel ground. The Bodhisatta took it and told the priest that wise men do not believe in superstition.
(Duplicate of Jataka #28) The Bodhisatta was once an ox. His owner treated him very well. To thank him, the Bodhisatta told his owner to bet he could pull one hundred loaded carts. When it was time for the challenge, the owner shouted “Go, you rascal!” which upset the Bodhisatta, so he didn’t budge. The next time the owner called out “Go, my fine fellow!” and won the bet.
The Bodhisatta was once a merchant. A landowner buried one hundred gold coins at an ascetic’s hermitage for safe keeping. The ascetic secretly stole them and moved away, mocking the landowner as he left by sticking a piece of straw in his hair and returning it to the landowner as a display of virtue. The Bodhisatta found this suspicious and he beat a confession out of the ascetic to get the landowner’s gold back.
The Bodhisatta was once a wealthy merchant. A merchant from the border region sent a caravan to the Bodhisatta for trade and he gave the workers food and lodging. When the Bodhisatta sent a caravan to the border merchant, his men were not looked after. When the border merchant sent a second caravan, the Bodhisatta’s men looted their goods because of the ingratitude they had been shown.
The Bodhisatta was once a dice player. One of the men he played with was a cheat, putting a die in his mouth to pretend that it was lost so games would end at the opportune time for him. The Bodhisatta covered his dice in poison and made him sick to teach him a lesson.
The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. When the queen’s pearl necklace disappeared, some innocent people confessed to stealing it out of fear. But the Bodhisatta proved they were innocent and got the necklace back from the monkey that had taken it.
The Bodhisatta was once a wealthy merchant. A lion living nearby scared his cows so they produced little milk. The lion was fond of a doe, so the Bodhisatta had his herdsman catch her and rub sugar and poison on her. When the lion licked her, he died.
The Bodhisatta was once a naked ascetic. He lived dirty and alone deep in the jungle in his quest to learn the truth of life. As he lay dying he realized his life had been worthless.
The Bodhisatta was once a king. He announced he was going to die soon and told everyone to stop being sad because everything is impermanent.
The Bodhisatta was once a prince. He knew he would never become a king in his own city, but if he could safely journey to Taxila in seven days he believed he would become the king there. He arrived without being killed by the enchanting ogresses along the route, but the king invited one to spend the night with him, and everyone in the palace died. The people knew the Bodhisatta must be a good man because he resisted the ogresses and so they made him their new king.
The Bodhisatta was once a teacher. One of his students was named Wicked and he wanted to change his name to a more fortunate one, but after meeting other people with inappropriate names he decided to keep his.
The Bodhisatta was once a merchant. He was named Wise and a business partner was named Wisest. One time after they sold some merchandise Wisest demanded a double share of the profits because of his name. The Bodhisatta refused, so they decided to ask a tree fairy. Wisest’s father hid in a hollow tree and advised the double share, but the Bodhisatta lit a fire to expose the ruse.
The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic. As he lay dying, his disciples asked what his spiritual attainment was. He told them “I have won nothing.” They thought he meant this literally, so he had to come down from heaven to tell them he meant he had attained insight into the nothingness of things, one of the highest attainments.
The Bodhisatta was once a king. Another king conquered the city and killed him. The Bodhisatta’s son raised an army and came to attack, but his mother told him to lay siege instead. After seven days the people killed the invading king and the son took the throne.
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