Tundila Jataka (#388)

The Bodhisatta was once a wild boar. One day he, his mother, and his younger brother were laying in a pit when an old woman using a walking stick approached. The mother was frightened to death by the sound of the stick tapping the ground and she ran off, leaving her two young sons behind. The old woman felt compassion for the piglets and she took them home in her basket, rearing them like children.

When the pigs grew up big and fat the woman refused all offers to buy them until one day during a festival when some men ran out of meat and wanted some more right away. After being rejected repeatedly, these men made the woman drink liquor until she was drunk, and then she agreed to sell the Bodhisatta’s brother. She filled his trough with rice and called him to come eat. When he saw strange men holding nooses standing next to his food, he knew he was about to die, so he ran to the Bodhisatta and stood shaking in fear.

The Bodhisatta told him this is the fate of all pigs reared by humans, so he should not grieve but rather accept his destiny cheerfully. He then preached the perfection of love to his younger brother and his voice spread over the whole kingdom so everybody heard him. His lesson was so pure and flawless that people snapped their fingers and waved cloth, and the king brought the pigs to live as his sons in the palace, dressed in robes and jewels. The Bodhisatta became both a judge and a spiritual advisor. After the king died, the Bodhisatta wrote a book about justice, which was followed for sixty thousand years, and then retired to the forest with his brother to live out his final days.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The young pig was an earlier birth of one of the Buddha’s disciples who had an intense fear of death. He ran away shaking when he heard even small sounds like a stick falling or a bird singing. When the Buddha heard some of his disciples discussing this, he told them this story so they knew it was not the first time this disciple had feared death.

The king was an earlier birth of Ananda, one of the Buddha’s top disciples, and the crowd that heard the Bodhisatta preach about love were the Buddha’s followers.

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