Migapotaka Jataka (#372)

temple painting of Migapotaka Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once Indra, king of the gods. An ascetic who lived in the Himalayas adopted an orphaned fawn and treated it as a child. One day the deer ate too much grass and died of indigestion. This depressed the ascetic, and when the Bodhisatta noticed it, he came down to earth and floated in the air, telling him that his sorrow was improper. This reminded the ascetic that all things are impermanent, which restored his happiness.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The ascetic and the deer were earlier births of one of the Buddha’s elder disciples and a novice under his guidance. The elder was overcome with grief after the novice got sick and died. When the Buddha heard some other disciples discussing the elder’s sorrow, he told them this story so they knew that the elder had also lost control of his emotions and lamented the death of a youngster in his care in the past.

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