The Bodhisatta was once a tree fairy. When farmers’ crops were growing, the deer living around villages would flee deep into the forest to avoid the danger from traps and guards. One year a stag who lived in the forest year-round fell in love with a village-dwelling doe and decided to join her when she returned home after the harvest. She told him not to come because he was ignorant of the dangers there, but he was so in love he ignored her advice.
During the period when the deer returned from the forest, villagers would sit in hiding to shoot them. As the couple walked along a road, the doe smelled the scent of a human. Suspecting that a hunter lie in ambush up ahead, she let the stag walk well in front of her. He was killed with a single arrow and the selfish doe fled to safety.
Later the Bodhisatta discussed these events with the other fairies, explaining that passion begins as bliss but ends in suffering, and a man who falls under a woman’s sway is a fool.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
One of the Buddha’s junior disciples always received poor food (lumpy gruel with stale or rotting ingredients and dried or burnt sprouts) and he did not get enough to stay healthy. He started to return each morning to the wife he left behind, and she gave him delicious rice with sauce and curry. This made him miss his former life, and with her encouragement he decided to leave the sangha.
The two deer were earlier births of this disciple and his wife, and the Buddha told him this story to let him know that his wife had once caused his death in the past. This convinced him to remain a disciple.