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 sailed out to sea on a trading voyage. Soon after, he was set adrift on a raft for bringing bad luck to the ship. He spent time on several islands with blissful spirits, then he arrived in hell and had 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. Then after 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, 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 mice had gnawed, and he believed it was cursed, so he discarded it in the charnel ground. The Bodhisatta took it and told the priest that wise men do not believe in superstitions.
(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!” This 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 safekeeping. 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 false 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 another 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 cheated by hiding dice in his mouth. To teach the cheat a lesson, the Bodhisatta covered his dice in poison and made him sick.
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. 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 near his cows scared them, so they produced little milk. The lion was fond of a doe, so the Bodhisatta had his herdsman 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 forest in his quest to learn the truth about life. As he lay dying, he realized his life had been worthless.
The Bodhisatta was once a king. He announced that he would 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 was told if he could safely journey to Taxila in seven days, he would become king there. He arrived without being killed by an enchanting and persistent ogress, but the king invited her to spend the night with him, and everyone in the palace died. The people knew that the Bodhisatta must be a good man because he resisted the ogress, so they made him their new king.
The Bodhisatta was once a teacher. One of his students was named Wicked. He wanted to change his name to a more fortunate one, but after meeting other people with unsuitable 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 asked a tree fairy what to do. 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 came 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 interloping king and the son took the throne.
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