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Title: Eastern Stories and Legends
Author: Shedlock, Marie L.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Foreword by
Prof. T. W. Rhys Davids

Introduction by
Annie Carroll Moore
Of the New York Public Library

New York
E. P. Dutton & Company
681 Fifth Avenue


I recollect riding late one night along the high-road from Galle to
Colombo. The road skirts the shore. On the left hand the long breakers
of the Indian Ocean broke in ripples on the rocks in the many little
bays. On the right an endless vista of tall cocoanut palms waved their
top-knots over a park-like expanse of grass, and the huts of the
peasantry were visible here and there beneath the trees. In the distance
a crowd had gathered on the sward, either seated on the grass or leaning
against the palms. I turned aside—no road was wanted—to see what brought
them there that moonlight night.

The villagers had put an oval platform under the trees. On it were
seated yellow robed monks with palm-leaf books on their laps. One was
standing and addressing the folk, who were listening to _Bana_, that is
“The Word”—discourses, dialogues, legends, or stories from the Pali
Canon. The stories were the well-known Birth-stories, that is the
ancient fables and fairy-tales common to the Aryan race which had been
consecrated, as it were, by the hero in each, whether man or animal,
being identified with the Buddha in a former birth. To these wonderful
stories the simple peasantry, men, women and children, clad in their
best and brightest, listen the livelong night with unaffected delight,
chatting pleasantly now and again with their neighbors; rising quietly
and leaving for a time, and returning at their will, and indulging all
the while in the mild narcotic of the betel-leaf, their stores of which
afford a constant occasion for acts of polite good-fellowship. Neither
preachers nor hearers may have that deep sense of evil in the world and
in themselves, nor that high resolve to battle with and overcome it,
which animated some of the first disciples. They all think they are
earning “merit” by their easy service. But there is at least, at these
full-moon festivals, a genuine feeling of human kindness, in harmony
alike with the teachings of Gotama and with the gentle beauty of those
moonlit scenes.[1]

Footnote 1:

  _See_ Rhys Davids’ _Buddhism_ (S.P.C.K.), pp. 57, 58.

It is not only under the palm groves of the South that these stories are
a perennial delight. Wherever Buddhism has gone they have gone with it.
They are known and loved on the plains of Central Asia, in the valleys
of Kashmir and Afghanistan, on the cold tablelands of Nepal, Tartary and
Tibet, through the vast regions of India and China, in the islands of
Japan and the Malay archipelago, and throughout the jungles of Siam and

And not only so. Soldiers of Alexander who had settled in the East,
wandering merchants of many nations and climes, crusading knights and
hermits who had mixed with Eastern folk, brought the stories from East
to West. They were very popular in Europe in the Middle Ages; and were
used, more especially by the clergy, as the subjects of numerous
homilies, romances, anecdotes, poems and edifying plays and mysteries.
The character of the hero of them in his last or former births appealed
so strongly to the sympathies, and especially to the religious
sympathies, of mediæval Christians that the Buddha (under another name)
was included, and has ever since remained, in the list of canonized
saints both in the Roman and Greek Churches; and a collection of these
and similar stories—wrongly but very naturally ascribed to a famous
story-teller of the ancient Greeks—has become the common property, the
household literature, of all the nations of Europe; and, under the name
of Æsop’s Fables, has handed down, as a first moral lesson-book for our
children in the West, tales first invented to please and to instruct our
far-off cousins in the distant East.

So the story of the migration of the stories is the most marvelous story
of them all.[2] And, strange to say, in spite of the enormous outpouring
of more modern tales, these old ones have not, even yet, lost their
charm. I used to tell them by the hour together, to mixed audiences, and
never found them fail. Out of the many hundred Birth-stories there are
only a small proportion that are suitable for children. Miss Shedlock,
so well known on both sides of the Atlantic for her skill and judgment
in this regard, has selected those she deems most suitable; and, so far
as I can judge, has succeeded very admirably in adapting them for the
use of children and of teachers alike. Much depends, no doubt, upon the
telling. Could Miss Shedlock herself be the teller, there would be
little doubt of the success. But I know from my own experience that less
able story-tellers have no cause at all to be discouraged.

Footnote 2:

  For the details of this story the introduction to my _Buddhist Birth
  Stories_ may be consulted; and for the history of the Jâtakas in India
  the chapter on that subject in my _Buddhist India_.

The reason is, indeed, not far to seek. The stories are not ordinary
ones. It is not on sharpness of repartee, or on striking incidents, that
their charm depends. These they have sometimes. But their attraction
lies rather in a unique mixture of subtle humor, cunning make-belief,
and earnestness; in the piquancy of the contrast between the humorous
incongruities and impossibilities of the details, and the real serious
earnestness, never absent but always latent, of the ethical tone. They
never raise a boisterous laugh: only a quiet smile of delighted
appreciation; and they leave a pleasant aroma behind them. To the
child-mind the impossibilities are no impossibilities at all, they are
merely delightful. And these quaint old-world stories will continue to
appeal to children, young and old, as they have done, the world over,
through the long centuries of the past.


                            EDITOR’S PREFACE

These stories of the Buddha-Rebirths are not for one age or for one
country, but for all time, and for the whole world. Their philosophy
might be incorporated into the tenets of faith of a League of Nations
without destroying any national forms of religious teaching. On the
other hand those who prefer the foundation of more orthodox views will
be astonished to find their ethics are identical with many of those
inculcated in the stories: here we find condemnation of hypocrisy,
cruelty, selfishness, and vice of every kind and a constant appeal to
Love, Pity, Honesty, loftiness of purpose and breadth of vision. And
should we reject such teachings because they were given to the World
more than 2,000 years ago? Since it is wise to take into consideration
the claims and interests of the passing hour it is well to re-introduce
these stories at a moment when, perhaps more than ever before, East and
West are struggling to arrive at a clearer understanding of one another.

In Tagore’s essay on the relation of the Individual to the Universe, he
says: “In the West the prevalent feeling is that Nature belongs
exclusively to inanimate things and to beasts; that there is a sudden
unaccountable break where human nature begins. According to it,
everything that is low in the scale of beings is merely nature, and
whatever has the stamp of perfection on it, intellectual or moral, is
human nature. It is like dividing the bud and the blossom into two
separate categories and putting their grace to the credit of two
different and antithetical principles. But the Indian mind never has any
hesitation in acknowledging its kinship with nature, its unbroken
relation with all.”

This is perhaps the best summing up of the value of this collection.
Since the publication of the book in 1910, I have had many opportunities
of testing the value of the dramatic appeal in these stories both for
adults and boys and girls of adolescent age. When presented at this
impressionable period, the inner meaning will sink more deeply into
their minds than the same truths presented in a more direct and didactic

I am greatly indebted to Professor Rhys Davids, not only because he has
placed the material of his translations from the Pali at my disposal,
but also because of his unfailing kindness and help in directing my
work. I am fortunate to have had the restraining influence of so great a
scholar so that I might not lose the Indian atmosphere and line of
thought which is of such value in these stories.

I most gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to the Cambridge Press, by
whose courtesy I have been able to include several of the stories
published in their volumes.

I present here a selection from over 500 stories.


Cambridge, Massachusetts.


             1. THE HARE THAT RAN AWAY                    1

             2. THE MONKEY AND THE CROCODILE              8

             3. THE SPIRIT THAT LIVED IN A TREE          13

             4. THE HARE THAT WAS NOT AFRAID TO DIE      19

             5. THE PARROT THAT FED HIS PARENTS          27

             6. THE MAN WHO WORKED TO GIVE ALMS          35

             7. THE KING WHO SAW THE TRUTH               41


             9. THE BULL THAT PROVED HIS GRATITUDE       57

             10. THE HORSE THAT HELD OUT TO THE END      63

             11. THE MONKEY THAT SAVED THE HERD          71

             12. THE MALLARD THAT ASKED FOR TOO MUCH     77

             13. THE MERCHANT WHO OVERCAME ALL           81


             15. THE FAITHFUL FRIEND                     93

             16. THE HAWK AND THE OSPREY                 99

             17. GRANDMOTHER’S GOLDEN DISH              107

             18. THE ELEPHANT THAT SPARED LIFE          115

             19. HOW THE ANTELOPE WAS CAUGHT            123

             20. THE BANYAN DEER                        129

             21. THE PUPIL WHO TAUGHT HIS TEACHER       139

             22. THE MAN WHO TOLD A LIE                 145

             23. THE CROW THAT THOUGHT IT KNEW          153

             24. THE JUDAS TREE                         159

             25. THE RIVER-FISH AND THE MONEY           163

             26. THE DREAMER IN THE WOOD                171

             27. THE RICE MEASURE                       175

             28. THE POISONOUS TREES                    183

             29. THE WELL-TRAINED ELEPHANT              189

             30. THE WISE PHYSICIAN                     197


To this new and enlarged edition of Eastern Stories and Legends, Miss
Shedlock has brought years of dramatic experience in the telling of
stories to children and grown people in England and America, and united
with it a discriminating selection from the work of a great Oriental

The result is a book of intrinsic merit for the general reading of
children and of great practical value to all who are concerned with
moral or ethical training.

“I feel a great joy in what these stories can unconsciously bring to the
reader,” says Miss Shedlock in a personal letter, “the mere living among
the stories for the past few weeks has given me a sense of calm and
permanence which it is difficult to maintain under present outward

I have observed with growing interest, extending over a period of years,
the effect of such stories as “The Folly of Panic” and “The Tree Spirit”
upon audiences of adolescent boys and girls in the public schools,
public libraries, social settlements, Sunday schools and private
schools, I have visited with Miss Shedlock. There is in Miss Shedlock’s
rendering something more than a suggestion of kinship with Nature and
the attributes of animal life. The story is told in an atmosphere of
spiritual actuality remote from our everyday experience yet confirming
its eternal truths.

My familiarity with the earlier edition of Eastern Stories and Legends
and my personal introduction of “The True Spirit of a Festival Day” and
other stories to audiences of parents and teachers, enables me to speak
with confidence of the value of the book in an enlarged and more popular

In rearranging and expanding her selection of stories Miss Shedlock has
wisely freed the book from limitations which gave it too much the
appearance of a text book. In so doing she has preserved the classical
rendering of her earlier work. Her long experience as a teacher and
story-teller in England and America informs her notes and arouses in the
mature reader a fresh sense of the “power to educate” which rises out of
all great literature at the touch of a true interpreter.

_Annie Carroll Moore_

July 14, 1920.

                         THE HARE THAT RAN AWAY

And it came to pass that the Buddha (to be) was born again as a Lion.
Just as he had helped his fellow-men, he now began to help his
fellow-animals, and there was a great deal to be done. For instance,
there was a little nervous Hare who was always afraid that something
dreadful was going to happen to her. She was always saying: “Suppose the
Earth were to fall in, what would happen to me?” And she said this so
often that at last she thought it really was about to happen. One day,
when she had been saying over and over again, “Suppose the Earth were to
fall in, what would happen to me?” she heard a slight noise: it really
was only a heavy fruit which had fallen upon a rustling leaf, but the
little Hare was so nervous she was ready to believe anything, and she
said in a frightened tone: “The Earth _is_ falling in.” She ran away as
fast as she could go, and presently she met an old brother Hare, who
said: “Where are you running to, Mistress Hare?”

And the little Hare said: “I have no time to stop and tell you anything.
The Earth is falling in, and I am running away.”

“The Earth is falling in, is it?” said the old brother Hare, in a tone
of much astonishment; and he repeated this to _his_ brother hare, and
_he_ to _his_ brother hare, and _he_ to _his_ brother hare, until at
last there were a hundred thousand brother hares, all shouting: “The
Earth is falling in.” Now presently the bigger animals began to take the
cry up. First the deer, and then the sheep, and then the wild boar, and
then the buffalo, and then the camel, and then the tiger, and then the

Now the wise Lion heard all this noise and wondered at it. “There are no
signs,” he said, “of the Earth falling in. They must have heard
something.” And then he stopped them all short and said: “What is this
you are saying?”

And the Elephant said: “I remarked that the Earth was falling in.”

“How do you know this?” asked the Lion.

“Why, now I come to think of it, it was the Tiger that remarked it to

And the Tiger said: “_I_ had it from the Camel,” and the Camel said:
“_I_ had it from the Buffalo.” And the buffalo from the wild boar, and
the wild boar from the sheep, and the sheep from the deer, and the deer
from the hares, and the Hares said: “Oh! _we_ heard it from _that_
little Hare.”

And the Lion said: “Little Hare, _what_ made you say that the Earth was
falling in?”

And the little Hare said: “I _saw_ it.”

“You saw it?” said the Lion. “Where?”

“Yonder, by the tree.”

“Well,” said the Lion, “come with me and I will show you how——”

“No, no,” said the Hare, “I would not go near that tree for anything,
I’m _so_ nervous.”

“But,” said the Lion, “I am going to take you on my back.” And he took
her on his back, and begged the animals to stay where they were until
they returned. Then he showed the little Hare how the fruit had fallen
upon the leaf, making the noise that had frightened her, and she said:
“Yes, I see—the Earth is _not_ falling in.” And the Lion said: “Shall we
go back and tell the other animals?” And they went back. The little Hare
stood before the animals and said: “The Earth is _not_ falling in.” And
all the animals began to repeat this to one another, and they dispersed
gradually, and you heard the words more and more softly:

“The Earth is _not_ falling in,” etc., etc., etc., until the sound died
away altogether.

    NOTE.—This story I have told in my own words, using the language I
    have found most effective for very young children.

                      THE MONKEY AND THE CROCODILE

Once upon a time, while Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta
came to life at the foot of Himalaya as a Monkey. He grew strong and
sturdy, big of frame, well-to-do, and lived by a curve of the river
Ganges in a forest haunt.

Now at that time there was a Crocodile dwelling in the Ganges. The
Crocodile’s mate saw the great frame of the monkey, and she conceived a
longing for his heart to eat. So she said to her lord: “Sir, I desire to
eat the heart of that great king of the monkeys!”

“Good wife,” said the Crocodile, “I live in the water and he lives on
dry land: how can we catch him?”

“By hook or by crook,” she replied, “caught he must be. If I don’t get
him, I shall die.”

“All right,” answered the Crocodile, consoling her, “don’t trouble
yourself. I have a plan; I will give you his heart to eat.”

So when the Bodhisatta was sitting on the bank of the Ganges, after
taking a drink of water, the Crocodile drew near, and said:

“Sir Monkey, why do you live on bad fruits in this old familiar place?
On the other side of the Ganges there is no end to the mango trees, and
labuja trees, with fruit sweet as honey! Is it not better to cross over
and have all kinds of wild fruit to eat?”

“Lord Crocodile,” the Monkey made answer, “deep and wide is the Ganges:
how shall I get across?”

“If you will go, I will mount you on my back, and carry you over.”

The Monkey trusted him, and agreed. “Come here, then,” said the other,
“up on my back with you!” and up the Monkey climbed. But when the
Crocodile had swum a little way, he plunged the Monkey under the water.

“Good friend, you are letting me sink!” cried the Monkey. “What is that

Said the Crocodile, “You think I am carrying you out of pure good
nature? Not a bit of it! My wife has a longing for your heart, and I
want to give it to her to eat!”

“Friend,” said the Monkey, “it is nice of you to tell me. Why, if our
heart were inside us when we go jumping among the tree-tops, it would be
all knocked to pieces!”

“Well, where do you keep it?” asked the other.

The Bodhisatta pointed out a fig-tree, with clusters of ripe fruit,
standing not far off. “See,” said he, “there are our hearts hanging on
yon fig-tree.”

“If you will show me your heart,” said the Crocodile, “then I won’t kill

“Take me to the tree, then, and I will point it out to you hanging upon

The Crocodile brought him to the place. The Monkey leapt off his back,
and climbing up the fig-tree sat upon it. “O silly Crocodile!” said he,
“you thought that there were creatures that kept their hearts in a
tree-top! You are a fool, and I have outwitted you! You may keep your
fruit to yourself. Your body is great, but you have no sense.” And then
to explain this idea he uttered the following stanzas:

    “Rose-apple, jack-fruit, mangoes too across the water there I see;
    Enough of them, I want them not; my fig is good enough for me!

    “Great is your body, verily, but how much smaller is your wit!
    Now go your ways, Sir Crocodile, for I have had the best of it.”

The Crocodile, feeling as sad and miserable as if he had lost a thousand
pieces of money, went back sorrowing to the place where he lived.

                    THE SPIRIT THAT LIVED IN A TREE

And it came to pass that the Buddha was re-born as a Tree-Spirit. Now
there reigned (at Benares) at that time a King who said to himself: “All
over India, the kings live in palaces supported by many a column. _I_
will build me a palace resting on one column only—then shall I in truth
be the chiefest of all kings.”

Now in the King’s Park was a lordly Sal tree, straight and well-grown,
worshiped by village and town, and to this tree even the Royal Family
also paid tribute, worship, and honor. And then suddenly there came an
order from the King that the tree should be cut down.

And the people were sore dismayed, but the woodmen, who dared not
disobey the orders of the King, came to the Park with hands full of
perfumed garlands, and encircling the tree with a string, fastened to it
a nosegay of flowers, and kindling a lamp, they did worship, exclaiming:
“O Tree! on the seventh day must we cut thee down, for so hath the King
commanded. Now let the Deities who dwell within thee go elsewhither, and
since we are only obeying the King’s command, let no blame fall upon us,
and no harm come to our children because of this.”

And the Spirit who lived in the tree, hearing these words, reflected
within himself and said: “These builders are determined to cut down this
tree, and to destroy my place of dwelling. Now my life lasts only as
long as this tree. And lo! all the young Sal trees that stand around,
where dwell the Deities my kinsfolk—and they are many—will be destroyed!
My own destruction does not touch me so near as the destruction of my
children: therefore must I protect their lives.”

Accordingly, at the hour of midnight adorned in divine splendor, he
entered into the magnificent chamber of the King, and filling the whole
chamber with a bright radiance, stood weeping beside the King’s pillow.
At the sight of him, the King, overcome with terror, said: “Who art
thou, standing high in the air, and why do thy tears flow?”

And the Tree-God made answer: “Within thy realm I am known as the
Lucky-Tree. For sixty thousand years have I stood, and all have
worshiped me, and though they have built many a house, and many a town,
no violence has been done to me. Spare thou me, also, O King.”

Then the King made answer and said: “Never have I seen so mighty a
trunk, so thick and strong a tree; but I will build me a palace, and
thou shalt be the only column on which it shall rest, and thou shalt
dwell there for ever.”

And the Tree said: “Since thou art resolved to tear my body from me, I
pray thee cut me down gently, one branch after another—the root last of

And the King said: “O Woodland Tree! what is this thou askest of me? It
were a painful death to die. One stroke at the root would fell thee to
the ground. Why wouldst thou die piecemeal?”

And the Tree made answer: “O King! My children, the young Sal trees, all
grow at my feet: they are prosperous and well sheltered. If I should
fall with one mighty crash, behold these young children of the forest
would perish also!”

And the King was greatly moved by this spirit of sacrifice, and said: “O
great and glorious Tree! I set thee free from thy fear, and because thou
wouldst willingly die to save thy kindred, thou shalt not be cut down.
Return to thy home in the Ancient Forest.”


And it came to pass that the Buddha was born a Hare and lived in a wood;
on one side was the foot of a mountain, on another a river, on the third
side a border village.

And with him lived three friends: a Monkey, a Jackal, and an Otter; each
of these creatures got food on his own hunting ground. In the evening
they met together, and the Hare taught his companions many wise things:
that the moral law should be observed—that alms should be given to the
poor, and that holy days should be kept.

One day the Buddha said: “To-morrow is a fast day. Feed any beggars that
come to you by giving from your own store of food.” They all consented.

The next day the Otter went down to the bank of the Ganges to seek his
prey. Now a fisherman had landed seven red fish and had buried them in
the sand on the river’s bank while he went down the stream catching
more. The Otter scented the buried fish, dug up the sand till he came
upon them, and he called aloud: “Does any one own these fish?” And, not
seeing the owner, he laid the fish in the jungle where he dwelt,
intending to eat them at a fitting time. Then he lay down, thinking how
virtuous he was.

The Jackal also went off in search of food, and found in the hut of a
field watcher a lizard, and a pot of milk-curd.

And, after thrice crying aloud, “To whom do these belong?” and not
finding an owner, he put on his neck the rope for lifting the pot, and
grasping the spits and lizard with his teeth, he laid them in his own
lair, thinking, “In due season I will devour them,” and then he lay
down, thinking how virtuous he had been.

The Monkey entered the clump of trees, and gathering a bunch of mangoes,
laid them up in his part of the jungle, meaning to eat them in due
season. He then lay down and thought how virtuous he had been.

But the Hare (who was the Buddha-to-be) in due time came out thinking to
lie (in contemplation) on the Kuca grass. “It is impossible for me to
offer _grass_ to any beggars who may chance to come by, and I have no
oil or rice or fish. If any beggar come to me, I will give him (of) my
own flesh to eat.”

Now when Sakka, the King of the Gods, heard this thing, he determined to
put the Royal Hare to the test. So he came in disguise of a Brahmin to
the Otter and said: “Wise Sir, if I could get something to eat, I would
perform _all_ my priestly duties.”

The Otter said: “I will give you food. Seven red fish have I safely
brought to land from the sacred river of the Ganges. Eat thy fill, O
Brahmin, and stay in this wood.”

And the Brahmin said: “Let it be until to-morrow, and I will see to it

Then he went to the Jackal, who confessed that he had stolen the food,
but he begged the Brahmin to accept it and remain in the wood; but the
Brahmin said: “Let it be until to-morrow, and then I will see to it.”

And he came to the Monkey, who offered him the mangoes, and the Brahmin
answered in the same way.

Then the Brahmin went to the wise Hare, and the Hare said: “Behold, I
will give thee of my flesh to eat. But thou must not take life on this
holy day. When thou hast piled up the logs I will sacrifice myself by
falling into the midst of the flames, and when my body is roasted thou
shalt eat it and perform all thy priestly duties.”

Now when Sakka heard these words he caused a heap of burning coals to
appear, and the Wisdom Being, rising from the grass, came to the place,
but before casting himself into the flames he shook himself, lest
perchance there should be any insects in his coat who might suffer
death. Then, offering his body as a free gift, he sprang up, and like a
royal swan, lighting on a bed of lotus in an ecstasy of joy, he fell on
the heap of live coals. But the flame failed even to heat the pores of
the hair on the body of the Wisdom Being, and it was as if he had
entered a region of frost. Then he addressed the Brahmin in these words:
“Brahmin, the fire that thou hast kindled is icy cold; it fails to heat
the pores of the hair on my body. What is the meaning of this?”

“O most wise Hare! I am Sakka, and have come to put your virtue to the

And the Buddha in a sweet voice said: “No god or man could find in me an
unwillingness to die.”

Then Sakka said: “O wise Hare, be thy virtue known to all the ages to

And seizing the mountain he squeezed out the juice and daubed on the
moon the signs of the young hare.

Then he placed him back on the grass that he might continue his Sabbath
meditation and returned to Heaven.

And the four creatures lived together and kept the moral law.


Now it came to pass that the Buddha was re-born in the shape of a
Parrot, and he greatly excelled all other parrots in his strength and
beauty. And when he was full grown his father, who had long been the
leader of the flock in their flights to other climes, said to him: “My
son, behold my strength is spent! Do thou lead the flock, for I am no
longer able.” And the Buddha said: “Behold, thou shalt rest. I will lead
the birds.” And the Parrots rejoiced in the strength of their new
leader, and willingly did they follow him. Now from that day on, the
Buddha undertook to feed his parents, and would not consent that they
should do any more work. Each day he led his flock to the Himalaya
Hills, and when he had eaten his fill of the clumps of rice that grew
there, he filled his beak with food for the dear parents who were
waiting his return.

Now there was a man appointed to watch the rice-fields, and he did his
best to drive the Parrots away, but there seemed to be some secret power
in the leader of this flock which the Keeper could not overcome.

He noticed that the Parrots ate their fill and then flew away, but that
the Parrot-King not only satisfied his hunger, but carried away rice in
his beak.

Now he feared there would be no rice left, and he went to his master the
Brahmin to tell him what had happened; and even as the master listened
there came to him the thought that the Parrot-King was something higher
than he seemed, and he loved him even before he saw him. But he said
nothing of this, and only warned the Keeper that he should set a snare
and catch the dangerous bird. So the man did as he was bidden: he made a
small cage and set the snare, and sat down in his hut waiting for the
birds to come. And soon he saw the Parrot-King amidst his flock, who,
because he had no greed, sought no richer spot, but flew down to the
same place in which he had fed the day before.

Now, no sooner had he touched the ground than he felt his feet caught in
the noose. Then fear crept into his bird-heart, but a stronger feeling
was there to crush it down, for he thought: “If I cry out the Cry of the
Captured, my Kinsfolk will be terrified, and they will fly away
foodless. But if I lie still, then their hunger will be satisfied, and
they may safely come to my aid.” Thus was the Parrot both brave and

But alas! he did not know that his Kinsfolk had nought of his brave
spirit. When _they_ had eaten their fill, though they heard the
thrice-uttered cry of the captured, they flew away, nor heeded the sad
plight of their leader.

Then was the heart of the Parrot-King sore within him, and he said: “All
these my kith and kin, and not one to look back on me. Alas! what sin
have I done?”

The Watchman now heard the cry of the Parrot-King, and the sound of the
other Parrots flying through the air. “What is that?” he cried, and
leaving his hut he came to the place where he had laid the snare. There
he found the captive Parrot; he tied his feet together and brought him
to the Brahmin, his master. Now, when the Brahmin saw the Parrot-King,
he felt his strong power, and his heart was full of love to him, but he
hid his feelings and said in a voice of anger: “Is thy greed greater
than that of all other birds? They eat their fill, but thou takest away
each day more food than thou canst eat. Doest thou this out of hatred
for me, or dost thou store up the food in some granary for selfish

And the Great Being made answer in a sweet human voice: “I hate thee
not, O Brahmin. Nor do I store the rice in a granary for selfish greed.
But this thing I do. Each day I pay a debt which is due—each day I grant
a loan, and each day I store up a treasure.”

Now the Brahmin could not understand the words of the Buddha (because
true wisdom had not entered his heart), and he said: “I pray thee, O
Wondrous Bird, to make these words clear unto me.”

And then the Parrot-King made answer: “I carry food to my ancient
parents who can no longer seek that food for themselves: thus I pay my
daily debt. I carry food to my callow chicks whose wings are yet
ungrown. When I am old they will care for me—this my loan to them. And
for other birds, weak and helpless of wing, who need the aid of the
strong, for them I lay up a store; to these I give in charity.”

Then was the Brahmin much moved, and showed the love that was in his
heart. “Eat thy fill, O Righteous Bird, and let thy Kinsfolk eat too,
for thy sake.” And he wished to bestow a thousand acres of land upon
him, but the Great Being would only take a tiny portion round which were
set boundary stones.

And the Parrot returned with a head of rice, and said: “Arise, dear
Parents, that I may take you to a place of plenty.” And he told them the
story of his deliverance.

                    THE MAN WHO WORKED TO GIVE ALMS

Once upon a time the Buddha was born as a merchant named Vissaya (and
being endowed with the Five Virtues) he was liberal and fond of
alms-giving. He had alms halls built at the four city gates, in the
heart of the city, and at the door of his own house. At these points he
set on foot alms-giving and every day 600,000 men went forth to beg and
the food of the beggar and the merchant was exactly the same. And as he
thus stirred up the people of India by his gifts, Sakka, the King of the
gods, grew suspicious and thought, “This Vissaya gives alms and by
scattering his gifts everywhere is stirring up all India. By means of
his alms-giving, methinks he will dethrone me and himself become Sakka.
I will destroy his wealth, and make him a poor man, and so bring it
about that he shall no longer give alms.” So Sakka caused his oil,
honey, molasses and the like, and all his treasure of grain to
disappear, as well as his slaves and work people. Those who were
deprived of his gifts came and said, “My Lord, the alms hall has
disappeared. We do not find anything in the various places set up by
you.” “Take money hence,” he said. “Do not cut off the giving of alms.”
And calling his wife, he bade her keep up her charity. She searched the
whole house, and not finding a single bit of money, she said, “My Lord,
except the clothes we wear, I see nothing. The whole house is empty.”
Opening the seven jewel treasuries they found nothing, and save the
merchant and his wife no one else was seen, neither slaves nor
hirelings. The merchant, again addressing his wife, said, “My dear, we
cannot possibly cut off our charities. Search the whole house till you
find something.”

At that moment a certain grass-mower threw down his sickle and pole and
the rope for binding the grass in the doorway, and ran away. The
merchant’s wife found them and said: “My Lord, this is all I see,” and
brought and gave them to him. Said he: “All these years I have never
mown grass before, but to-day I will mow grass, and take and sell it,
and by this means dispense the fitting alms.”

So, through fear of having to cut off his charities, he took the sickle,
and the pole and the rope, and going forth from the city came to a place
of much grass, and mowing it, tied it up in two bundles, saying, “One
shall belong to us, and with the other I will give alms.”

This he did for six days, and because there was not enough to feed all
who came for alms, on the seventh day, he and his wife went fasting.
Then his strength gave out. No sooner did the heat of the sun strike
upon his head than his eyes began to swim in his head, and he became
unconscious, and falling down he scattered the grass. Sakka was moving
about, observing what the merchant did. And that god, standing in
mid-air, cried: “Refrain from giving, and thou shalt have joy for ever.”

“Who art thou?” cried the merchant.

“I am Sakka.”

And the merchant said:

“Sakka reached his high office by taking upon himself moral duties, and
giving alms.”

“Why dost thou give alms?” asked Sakka, still wishing to test him.

“It is not because I desire Sakkahood nor Brahmaship, but through giving
there cometh knowledge of all things.”

“Great merchant,” cried Sakka, “henceforth do thou every day give alms.”
And all his wealth was restored to him.

                       THE KING WHO SAW THE TRUTH

Long, long ago the Wisdom Child that should in time become the Buddha
was born a King. He was kind and generous, distributing all sorts of
alms to the poor; nor did he leave the work to those under him: he took
a personal part in the giving of the gifts—and nearly every day came
himself to the Alms Hall to see that none went away empty-handed.

But one morning, as he lay meditating on what he still might do for his
people, he began to feel that, after all, he had done no very great
thing, and he said: “I have given to my people only _outside_ things—the
mere gold and silver and raiment and food that I can well spare, and lo!
this giving brings me no joy. If I could only give my people part of
myself—some precious thing which would show my love for them—whatever it
might cost me! And if to-day, when I go down to the Alms Hall, one
should say, 'Give me thy heart,’ then, in truth, I will cut open my
breast with a spear, and, as though I were drawing up a water-lily from
a calm lake, I will pull forth my heart. If he asks my flesh and blood,
behold I will give it to him. If he complain that there is no other to
do his work, then I will leave my royal throne, and, proclaiming myself
a slave, I will do the work of a slave—and, indeed, should any man ask
for my eyes, the most precious gift of the gods, then will I tear them
out as one might tear the pith from the palm-tree.”

Then he bathed himself, and, mounted upon a richly caparisoned elephant,
he rode down to the Alms Hall, his heart filled with love for his

Now Sakka, the King of the Gods, heard the resolve of the King, and he
thought to test him, whether his words were vain; whether it were a
sudden mood which would pass away when the moment came to carry out his
stern resolution.

So, when the King came down to the Alms Hall, Sakka stood before him, in
the guise of an old blind Brahmin, who, stretching out his hands, cried
out: “Long live the King!”

And the King made sign for him to say what was in his heart.

“O great King,” said the blind Brahmin—“in all the inhabited world there
is no spot where the fame of thy great heart has not spread. I am blind,
but thou, O King, hast _two_ eyes—I therefore beseech thee, give me
_one_, that I too may behold the glories of the Earth!”

Then did the King rejoice greatly that this opportunity should have come
to him so quickly, but not wishing to show at once the joy he felt in
his heart, he said: “O Brahmin, I pray thee tell me, who bade thee wend
thy way to this alms-house? Thou askest of me the most precious thing
that a man possesses, and lo! it is very hard to give!”

And the Brahmin made answer: “Behold, a god has sent me hither, and has
told me to ask this boon.”

And the King said: “Thy prayer is granted: thou didst ask for one eye,
behold I will give thee both eyes.”

And then the news spread quickly through the town that the King was
about to give his eyes to a blind Brahmin, and the Commander-in-Chief
and all the officials gathered together that they might turn the King
from his purpose.

And they said: “O great King, are there not other gifts which thou canst
bestow upon this sightless Brahmin—money, jewels, elephants with cloth
of gold? Why shouldst thou give to him that most precious of gifts, thy
royal eyes?”

And the King said: “Behold, I have taken this vow, and I should be
sinful if I were to break it.”

And the courtiers said: “O King, why doest thou this thing? Is it for
Life, or Beauty or Strength?”

The King answered: “It is for none of these things: it is for the joy of

Then the King bid the Surgeon do his work. And when one of his eyes was
taken out, he gave it to the Brahmin, and it remained fixed in his
socket like a blue lotus flower in bloom. And the King said: “The eye
that sees all things is greater than this eye,” and, being filled with
ecstasy of joy, he gave the second eye.

And after many days and much suffering, the King’s sight was restored to
him—not the natural eyes which see the things around—but the eyes which
see perfect and absolute Truth.

And he reigned in righteousness and justice, and the people learnt of
him pure wisdom.


Long ago the Bodisat came to life as a Bull.

Now, when he was yet a young calf, a certain Brahmin, after attending
upon some devotees who were wont to give oxen to priests, received the
bull. And he called it Nandi Visāla, and grew very fond of it, treating
it like a son, and feeding it on gruel and rice.

When the Bodisat grew up, he said to himself: “This Brahmin has brought
me up with great care; and there’s no other ox in all the continent of
India can drag the weight I can. What if I were to let the Brahmin know
about my strength, and so in my turn provide sustenance for him!”

And he said one day to the Brahmin: “Do you go now, Brahmin, to some
Squire rich in cattle, and offer to bet him a thousand that your ox will
move a hundred laden carts.”

The Brahmin went to a rich farmer, and started a conversation thus:

“Whose bullocks hereabout do you think the strongest?”

“Such and such a man’s,” said the farmer, and then added: “But, of
course, there are none in the whole country-side to touch my own!”

“I have one ox,” said the Brahmin, “who is good to move a hundred carts,
loads and all!”

“Tush!” said the Squire. “Where in the world is such an ox?”

“Just in my house!” said the Brahmin.

“Then make a bet about it!”

“All right! I bet you a thousand he can.”

So the bet was made. And he filled a hundred carts (small wagons made
for two bullocks) with sand and gravel and stones, ranged them all in a
row, and tied them all firmly together, cross-bar to axle-tree.

Then he bathed Nandi Visāla, gave him a measure of scented rice, hung a
garland round his neck, and yoked him by himself to the front cart. Then
he took his seat on the pole, raised his goad aloft, and called out:
“Gee up! you brute!! Drag ’em along, you wretch!!”

The Bodisat said to himself: “He addresses me as a wretch. I am no
wretch!” And, keeping his four legs as firm as so many posts, he stood
perfectly still.

Then the Squire that moment claimed his bet, and made the Brahmin hand
over the thousand pieces. And the Brahmin, minus his thousand, took out
his ox, went home to his house, and lay down overwhelmed with grief.

Presently Nandi Visāla, who was roaming about the place, came up and saw
the Brahmin grieving there, and said to him: “What, Brahmin! Are you

“Sleep! How can I sleep after losing the thousand pieces?”

“Brahmin! I’ve lived so long in your house, and have I ever broken any
pots, or rubbed up against the walls?”

“Never, my dear!”

“Then why did you call me a wretch? It’s your fault. It’s not my fault.
Go now and bet him two thousand; and never call me a wretch again—I, who
am no wretch at all!”

When the Brahmin heard what he said, he made the bet two thousand, tied
the carts together as before, decked out Nandi Visāla, and yoked him to
the foremost cart.

He managed this in the following way: he tied the pole and the
cross-piece fast together, yoked Nandi Visāla on one side; on the other
he fixed a smooth piece of timber from the point of the yoke to the
axle-end, and wrapping it round with the fastenings of the cross-piece,
tied it fast, so that when this was done the yoke could not move this
way and that way, and it was possible for one ox to drag forwards the
double bullock-cart.

Then the Brahmin seated himself on the pole, stroked Nandi Visāla on the
back, and called out: “Gee up! my beauty!! Drag it along, my beauty!!”

And the Bodisat, with one mighty effort, dragged forwards the hundred
heavily-laden carts, and brought the hindmost one up to the place where
the foremost one had stood.

Then the cattle-owner acknowledged himself beaten, and handed over to
the Brahmin the two thousand; the bystanders, too, presented the Bodisat
with a large sum, and the whole became the property of the Brahmin.
Thus, by means of the Bodisat, great was the wealth he acquired.


Long ago ... the Bodisat returned to life as a Bull.

Now, when it was still a young calf, its owners stopped a while in an
old woman’s house, and gave him to her when they settled their account
for their lodging. And she brought him up, treating him like a son, and
feeding him on gruel and rice.

He soon became known as “The old woman’s Blackie.” When he grew up, he
roamed about, as black as collyrium, with the village cattle, and was
very good-tempered and quiet. The village children used to catch hold of
his horns, or ears, or dewlaps, and hang on to him; or amuse themselves
by pulling his tail, or riding about on his back.

One day he said to himself: “My mother is wretchedly poor. She’s taken
so much pains, too, in bringing me up, and has treated me like a son.
What if I were to work for hire, and so relieve her distress!” And from
that day he was always on the look-out for a job.

Now, one day a young caravan owner arrived at a neighboring ford with
five hundred bullock-wagons. And his bullocks were not only unable to
drag the carts across, but even when he yoked the five hundred pair in a
row they could not move one cart by itself.

The Bodisat was grazing with the village cattle close to the ford. The
young caravan owner was a famous judge of cattle, and began looking
about to see whether there were among them any thoroughbred bull able to
drag over the carts. Seeing the Bodisat, he thought he would do, and
asked the herdsmen: “Who may be the owners, my men, of this fellow? I
should like to yoke him to the cart, and am willing to give a reward for
having the carts dragged over.”

“Catch him and yoke him then,” said they. “He has no owner hereabouts.”

But when he began to put a string through his nose and drag him along,
he could not get him to come. For the Bodisat, it is said, wouldn’t go
till he was promised a reward.

The young caravan owner, seeing what his object was, said to him: “Sir!
if you’ll drag over these five hundred carts for me, I’ll pay you wages
at the rate of two pence for each cart—a thousand pieces in all.”

Then the Bodisat went along of his own accord, and the men yoked him to
the cart. And with a mighty effort he dragged it up and landed it safe
on the high ground. And in the same manner he dragged up all the carts.

So the caravan owner then put five hundred pennies in a bundle, one for
each cart, and tied it round his neck. The Bull said to himself: “This
fellow is not giving me wages according to the rate agreed upon. I
shan’t let him go on now!” And so he went and stood in the way of the
front cart, and they tried in vain to get him away.

The caravan owner thought: “He knows, I suppose, that the pay is too
little;” and wrapping a thousand pieces in a cloth, tied them up in a
bundle, and hung that round his neck. And as soon as he got the bundle
with a thousand inside, he went off to his “mother.”

Then the village children called out: “See! what’s that round the neck
of the old woman’s Blackie?” and began to run up to him. But he chased
after them, so that they took to their heels before they got near him;
and he went straight to his “mother.” And he appeared with eyes all
bloodshot, utterly exhausted from dragging over so many carts.

“How did you get this, dear?” said the good old woman, when she saw the
bag round his neck. And when she heard, on inquiry from the herdsmen,
what had happened, she exclaimed: “Am I so anxious, then, to live on the
fruit of your toil, my darling! Why do you put yourself to all this

And she bathed him in warm water, and rubbed him all over with oil, and
gave him to drink, and fed him up with good food. And at the end of her
life she passed away according to her deeds, and the Bodisat with her.


And it came to pass that the Buddha (to be) came to life in the shape of
a Horse—a thoroughbred small horse, and he was made the King’s Destrier,
surrounded by pomp and state. He was fed on exquisite three-year-old
rice which was always served up to him in a golden dish worth a hundred
thousand pieces of money, and the ground of his stall was perfumed with
the four odors. Round his stall were hung crimson curtains, while
overhead was a canopy studded with stars of gold. On the wall were
festooned wreaths and garlands of fragrant flowers, and a lamp fed with
scented oil was always burning there.

Now all the kings round coveted the kingdom of Benares. Once seven kings
passed Benares and sent a missive to the King, saying: “Either yield up
your kingdom to us or give battle.”

Assembling his ministers, the King of Benares laid the matter before
them and asked what he was to do. Said they: “You ought not to go out to
battle in person, Sire, in the first instance. Despatch such and such a
Knight out first to fight him, and, later on, if he fall, we will decide
what to do.”

Then the King sent for that Knight and said to him: “Can you fight the
seven kings, my dear Knight?” Said he: “Give me but your noble Destrier,
and then I could fight not only seven kings but all the kings in India.”
“My dear Knight, take my Destrier or any horse you please, and do
battle.” “Very good, my Sovereign Lord,” said the Knight, and with a bow
he passed down from the upper chambers of the palace.

Then he had the noble Destrier led out and sheathed in mail, arming
himself too and girding on his sword.

Mounted on his noble steed he passed out of the City Gate, and with a
lightning charge broke down the first camp, taking one king alone, and
bringing him back a prisoner to the soldiers’ custody.

... And this went on until six kings had been made prisoner. Then the
noble Horse received a wound which streamed with blood and caused him
much pain. Perceiving that the Horse was wounded, the Knight made it lie
down at the King’s gate, loosened its mail, and set about arming another

But the Horse perceiving this, said: “The other horse will _not_ be able
to break down the seventh camp and capture the seventh king: he will
lose all that I have accomplished. The peerless Knight will be slain,
and the King will fall into the hands of the foe. I alone and no other
horse can break down the seventh camp and capture the seventh king.”

So he called to the Knight and repeated these words, and added: “I will
not throw away what I have already done. Only have me set upon my feet,
and clad again in my armor, and I will accomplish my work.”

The Knight had the Horse set upon his feet, bound up his wound, and
armed him again in proof. Mounted on the Destrier, he broke down the
seventh camp, and brought back alive the seventh king.

They led the Horse to the King’s gate, and the King came up to look at

Then said the Great Being: “Great King, slay not these seven kings: bind
them by an oath, and let them go. Let the Knight enjoy the honor due to
us both. As for you, exercise charity, keep the Ornaments, and rule your
kingdom in righteousness and justice.” When the Horse had thus exhorted
the King, they took off his mail, but as they were taking it off
piecemeal, he passed away.

The King had the body buried with due respect, bestowed great honors on
the Knight, and sent the kings to their homes, after exacting from each
an oath never to war upon him any more. And he ruled his kingdom in
righteousness and justice, passing away when his life closed, to fare
thereafter according to his deserts.

The story was told by the Master about a brother who gave up

“Brethren, in bygone days the wise and good persevered even in hostile
surroundings, and even when they were wounded they did not give in.
Whereas you who have devoted yourself to so saving a doctrine, how comes
it that you give up persevering?”

                     THE MONKEY THAT SAVED THE HERD

It came to pass that the Buddha was re-born as the King of the monkeys.
He lived with his herd of 80,000 monkeys in a thick forest, near a lake.
In this lake there lived an ogre who used to devour all those who went
down to the water.

The Buddha spoke to his subjects and said: “My friends, in this forest
there are trees that are poisoned, and lakes that are haunted by ogres.
Eat no fruit and drink no water of which you have not already tasted
without consulting me.”

This they agreed to. And one day, having arrived at a spot which they
had never visited before, they found a great lake. They did not drink,
but awaited the return of their King.

Now when he arrived he went round the lake, and found that all the
footsteps led down to the lake, but none came up again. And he said:
“Without doubt this is the haunt of an ogre.”

When this water-ogre saw that they were not invading his domain he
appeared in the form of a terrible monster with a blue belly, a white
face, and bright red hands and feet. In this shape he came out of the
water and said to the King: “Why are you seated here? Go down to the
lake to drink.” But the King said: “Are you not the ogre of this water?”
“Yes, I am,” was the answer. “Do you take as your prey all those who go
down into this water?” “Yes, I do, from small birds upwards. I never let
anything go which comes down into this water. I will eat the lot of you,
too.” “But we shall not let you eat us.” “Just drink the water.” “Yes,
we will drink the water, and yet not fall into your power.” “How do you
propose to drink the water, then?” “Ah, you think we shall have to go
down to the water to drink; whereas we shall not enter the water at all,
but the whole eighty thousand of us will take a cane each and drink
therewith from your lake as easily as through the hollow stalk of a
lotus. And so you will not be able to eat us.”

So saying the King had a cane brought to him, and in true belief that
the miracle would take place he blew down the cane, which straightway
became hollow throughout, without a single knot being left in its
length. In this fashion he had another, and another brought, and blew
down them. Then he made the tour of the lake, and commanded, saying,
“Let all canes growing here become hollow throughout.” Now, thanks to
the saving goodness of their re-born chiefs, their commands are always
fulfilled. And henceforth every single cane that grew round that lake
became hollow throughout. After giving his commands the King seated
himself with a cane in his hand. All the other 80,000 monkeys, too,
seated themselves round the lake each with a cane in his hands. At the
same moment when the King sucked up the water through his cane, they all
drank in the same manner as they sat on the bank. This was the way they
drank, and the ogre could get no power over any one of them, so he went
off in a rage to his habitation. The King, with his following of 80,000
monkeys, went back into the forest.


And it came to pass that the Buddha (to be) was born a Brahmin, and
growing up was married to a bride of his own rank, who bore him three

After his death he was born again as a Golden Mallard, and he determined
to give his golden feathers one at a time to enable his wife and
daughters to live in comfort. So away he flew to where they dwelt, and
alighted on the central beam of the roof.

Seeing the Bodisat, the wife and girls asked where he had come from, and
he told them that he was their father who had died and been born a
Golden Mallard, and that he had come to bring them help. “You shall have
my golden feathers, one by one,” he said. He gave them one and departed.
From time to time he returned to give them another feather, and they
became quite wealthy.

But one day the mother said: “There’s no trusting animals, my children.
Who’s to say your father might not go away one of these days and never
return? Let us use our time, and pluck him clean the next time he comes,
so as to make sure of all his feathers.” Thinking this would pain him,
the daughters refused. The mother in her greed plucked the Mallard
herself, and as she plucked them against his wish, they ceased to be
golden and became like a crane’s feathers. His wings grew again, but
they were plain white; he flew away to his own abode and never came


Once upon a time the Buddha (to be) was born in a merchant’s family; and
when he grew up he went about trafficking with five hundred carts.

One day he arrived at a sandy desert twenty leagues across. The sand in
that desert was so fine that when taken in the closed fist it could not
be kept in the hand. After the sun had risen it became as hot as a mass
of charcoal, so that no man could walk on it. Those, therefore, who had
to travel over it took wood and water and oil and rice in their carts,
and traveled during the night. And at daybreak they formed an
encampment, and spread an awning over it, and, taking their meals early,
they passed the day sitting in the shade. At sunset they supped; and
when the ground had become cool, they yoked their oxen and went on. The
traveling was like a voyage over the sea: a so-called land-pilot had to
be chosen, and he brought the caravan safe to the other side by his
knowledge of the stars.

On this occasion the merchant of our story traversed the desert in that
way. And when he had passed over fifty-nine leagues, he thought: “Now in
one more night we shall get out of the sand.” And after supper he
directed the wood and water to be thrown away, and the wagons to be
yoked, and so set out. The pilot had cushions arranged on the foremost
cart, and lay down looking at the stars, and directing them where to
drive. But, worn out by want of rest during the long march, he fell
asleep, and did not perceive that the oxen had turned around and taken
the same road by which they had come.

The oxen went on the whole night through. Towards dawn the pilot woke
up, and, observing the stars, called out: “Stop the wagons! Stop the
wagons!” The day broke just as they had stopped, and were drawing up the
carts in a line. Then the men cried out: “Why, this is the very
encampment we left yesterday! Our wood and water is all gone! We are
lost!” And unyoking the oxen, and spreading the canopy over their heads,
they lay down in despondency, each one under his wagon.

But the Bodisat, saying to himself, “If I lose heart, all these will
perish,” walked about while the morning was yet cool. And on seeing a
tuft of Kusa grass, he thought: “This must have grown by attracting some
water which there must be beneath it.”

And he made them bring a hoe and dig in that spot. And they dug sixty
cubits deep. And when they had got thus far, the spade of the diggers
struck on a rock, and as soon as it struck, they all gave up in despair.

But the Bodisat thought, “There must be water under that rock,” and,
stooping down, applied his ear to it and tested the sound of it. And he
heard the sound of water gurgling beneath. And he got out and called his
page. “My lad, if you give up now, we shall all be lost. Don’t you lose
heart. Take this iron hammer, and go down into the pit and give the rock
a good blow.”

The lad obeyed, and though they all stood by in despair, he went down
full of determination, and struck at the stone. And the rock split in
two and fell below, and no longer blocked up the stream. And water rose
till its brim was the height of a palm-tree in the well. And they all
drank of the water, and bathed in it. Then they split up their extra
yokes and axles, and cooked rice and ate it, and fed their oxen with it.
And when the sun set, they put up a flag by the well and went to the
place appointed. There they sold their merchandise at double and treble
profit, and returned to their own home, and lived to a good old age, and
then passed away according to their deeds. And the Bodisat gave gifts,
and did other virtuous acts, and passed away according to his deeds.


And the Buddha as Prime Minister served the King. Now there was a
certain She-Elephant endowed with great might which enabled her to go a
hundred leagues a day. She did the duties of messenger to the King, and
in battle she fought and crushed the enemy. The King said: “She is very
serviceable to me.”

He gave her ornaments, and caused all honor to be shown her. Then, when
she was weak from age, the King took away all the honor he had bestowed.

From that time she was unprotected, and lived by eating grass and leaves
in the forest.

And one day the chief Potter had not enough oxen to yoke to the carts
which carried the material for making clay. And the King said: “Where is
our She-Elephant?”

“O King! she is wandering at her will in the forest.”

And the King said: “Do thou yoke her to the cart.”

And the Potter said: “Good, O King!” And he did even as the King

But when this insult was offered to the Elephant, she came to the Prime
Minister and said: “O Wise Being! I pray you listen to my tale. When I
was young, great strength was mine; and I did walk a hundred leagues to
bear the King’s messages, and, with weapons bound upon my body, I did
take part in battle, crushing the enemy beneath my feet. And now I am
old, and the King hath withdrawn all the honors he bestowed upon me, and
not content with allowing me to wander and feed on grass, unprotected in
my old age, he has _even caused me to be yoked to_ the Potter’s cart as
are the oxen.”

Then the Buddha promised that he would plead her cause, and appearing
before the King, he asked: “Great King, did not a She-Elephant covered
with weapons do battle for thee; and on such and such a day, with a
writing upon her neck, did she not go a hundred leagues on a message?
Thou didst bestow upon her great honor. I pray thee tell me, where is
she now?”

And the King, in some confusion, made answer: “Behold, she is yoked to a

Then did the Buddha speak in sorrowful anger to the King, and rebuked
him, saying: “Thou hast yoked this Elephant to a cart after all the
services she has rendered. Then was the honor only bestowed because of
more services expected?”

And all who heard him received his instruction, and the King restored
the She-Elephant to her former place of honor.

                          THE FAITHFUL FRIEND

Long ago, when Brahma-datta was reigning in Benares, the Bodisat became
his Minister.

At that time a dog used to go to the state elephant’s stable, and feed
on the lumps of rice which fell where the elephant fed. Being attracted
there by the food, he soon became great friends with the elephant, and
used to eat close by him. At last neither of them was happy without the
other; and the dog used to amuse himself by catching hold of the
elephant’s trunk, and swinging to and fro.

But one day there came a peasant who gave the elephant-keeper money for
the dog, and took it back with him to his village. From that time the
elephant, missing the dog, would neither eat nor drink nor bathe. And
they let the King know about it.

He sent the Bodisat, saying: “Do you go, Pandit, and find out what’s the
cause of the elephant’s behavior.”

So he went to the stable, and seeing how sad the elephant looked, said
to himself: “There seems to be nothing bodily the matter with him. He
must be so overwhelmed with grief by missing some one, I should think,
who had become near and dear to him.” And he asked the elephant-keepers:
“Is there any one with whom he is particularly intimate?”

“Certainly, Sir! There was a dog of whom he was very fond indeed.”

“Where is it now?”

“Some man or other took it away.”

“Do you know where the man lives?”

“No, Sir!”

Then the Bodisat went and told the King. “There’s nothing the matter
with the elephant, your majesty; but he was great friends with a dog,
and I fancy it’s through missing it that he refuses his food.”

When the King heard what he said, he asked what was now to be done.

“Have a proclamation made, O King, to this effect: 'A man is said to
have taken away a dog of whom our state elephant was fond. In whose
house soever that dog shall be found, he shall be fined so much!’”

The King did so; and, as soon as he heard of it, the man turned the dog
loose. The dog hastened back, and went close up to the elephant. The
elephant took him up in his trunk and placed him on his forehead, and
wept and cried, and took him down again, and watched him as he fed. And
then he took his own food.

Then the King paid great honor to the Bodisat for knowing the motives
even of animals.

                        THE HAWK AND THE OSPREY

There lived once, on the shores of a natural lake, a Hawk on the south
shore, a She-Hawk on the west shore, on the north a Lion, the king of
beasts, on the east the Osprey, the king of birds, in the middle a
Tortoise on a small island.

Now the Hawk asked the She-Hawk to become his wife. She asked him: “Have
you any friends?” “No, madam,” he replied. “But,” she said, “we must
have some friends who can defend us against any danger or trouble that
may arise. Therefore I beg of you to find some friends.” “But,” said the
Hawk, “with whom shall I make friends?” “Why, with King Osprey, who
lives on the eastern shore, with King Lion on the north, and with the
Tortoise who lives in the middle of the lake.”

And he took her advice. And all these creatures formed a bond of
friendship, and promised to protect each other in time of danger.

Now in time the Mother-Hawk had two sons. One day when the wings of the
young birds were not yet callow, some of the country-folk went foraging
through the woods all day and found nothing.

They went down to the lake to catch fish or a tortoise, and, in order to
drive away the gnats, they made a fire by rubbing sticks together. The
smoke annoyed the young birds, and they uttered a cry. The men said:
“’Tis the cry of birds—we will make a fire and eat their flesh.” They
made the fire blaze and built it up.

But the Mother-Bird heard the sound, and thought: “These men will eat
our young ones. I will send my mate to the Great Osprey.” This she did,
and the bird promised to help. He sat upon a tree-top near that in which
the Hawks had built their nests, and no sooner did the men begin to
climb up the tree than the Osprey dived into the lake, and from wings
and back sprinkled water upon the brands and put the fire out. Down came
the men and made another fire, but again the Osprey put it out, and this
went on until midnight.

And the bird was tired out and his eyes were bloodshot. And the
Mother-Bird whispered to her mate: “My Lord, the Osprey is worn out! Go
and tell the Tortoise, that this weary bird may have a rest.”

But the Osprey in a loud voice said he would gladly give his life to
guard the tree. And the grateful Hawk said: “I pray thee, friend Osprey,
rest awhile.” Then he went for help to the Tortoise, who said he would
gladly help, but his son said: “I would not have my old father troubled,
but I will gladly go in his stead.”

And the Tortoise collected mud and quenched the flame. Then said the
men: “Let us kill the Tortoise: he will be enough for all.” But when
they plucked creepers to bind him and tried to turn him over, he dragged
them into the water. And they said: “What strange things have happened
to us! Half the night the Osprey has put out our fire, and now the
Tortoise has dragged us in after him and made us swallow water. Let us
light another fire, and at sunrise we will eat these young Hawks.”

The Hen-Bird heard the noise and said: “My husband—sooner or later these
men will devour our young and depart. You go and tell our friend the
Lion.” At once the Hawk went to the Lion, who asked him why he came at
such an unreasonable hour. But when the whole matter was put before him,
he said: “Go and comfort your young ones, for I will save them.” And
then he came forth with a mighty tread, and the men were terrified.

“Alas!” they cried. “The Osprey hath put out our fire. The Tortoise
dragged us into the water. But now we are done for: the Lion will
destroy us at once.” They ran this way and that, and when the noble
beast stood at the foot of the tree, no trace could be found of the
frightened men.

Then the Osprey, the Hawk, the She-Hawk, and the Tortoise came up to
greet him, and they discoursed for a long time on the value of
friendship. And this company of friends lived all their lives without
breaking their bond. And they passed away according to their deeds.

                       GRANDMOTHER’S GOLDEN DISH

Long ago the Bodisat was a dealer in tin and brass ware, named Seriva,
in the country of that name. This Seriva, together with another dealer
in tin and brass ware, who was an avaricious man, crossed the river
Tēlavāha, and entered the town called Andhapura. And, dividing the
streets of the city between them, the Bodisat went round selling his
goods in the street allotted to him, while the other took the street
that fell to him.

Now in that city there was a wealthy family reduced to abject poverty.
All the sons and brothers in the family had died, and all its property
had been lost. Only one girl and her grandmother were left; and those
two gained their living by serving others for hire. There was indeed in
the house the vessel of gold out of which the head of the house used to
eat in the days of its prosperity; but it was covered with dirt, and had
long lain neglected and unused among the pots and pans. And they did not
even know that it was of gold.

At that time the avaricious hawker, as he was going along, calling out,
“Buy my water-pots! Buy my water-pots!” came to the door of their house.
When the girl saw him, she said to her grandmother: “Mother! do buy me
an ornament.”

“But we are poor, dear. What shall we give in exchange for it?”

“This dish of ours is no use to us; you can give that away and get one.”

The old woman called the hawker, and, after asking him to take a seat,
gave him the dish, and said: “Will you take this, Sir, and give
something to your little sister for it?”

The hawker took the dish, and thought: “This must be gold!” And turning
it round, he scratched a line on its back with a needle, and found that
it was so. Then, hoping to get the dish without giving them anything, he
said: “What is this worth? It is not even worth a halfpenny!” And
throwing it on the ground, he got up from his seat and went away.

Now, it was allowed to either hawker to enter the street which the other
had left. And the Bodisat came into that street, and calling out, “Buy
my water-pots,” came up to the door of that very house. And the girl
spoke to her grandmother as before. But the grandmother said: “My child,
the dealer who came just now threw the dish on the floor, and went away;
what have I now got to give him in exchange?”

“That merchant, mother dear, was a surly man; but this one looks
pleasant, and has a kind voice: perchance he may take it.”

“Call him, then,” said she.

So she called him. And when he had come in and sat down, they gave him
the dish. He saw that it was gold, and said: “Mother! this dish is worth
a hundred thousand. All the goods in my possession are not equal to it
in value!”

“But, Sir, a hawker who came just now threw it on the ground, and went
away, saying it was not worth a halfpenny. It must have been changed
into gold by the power of your virtue, so we make you a present of it.”

The Bodisat gave them all the cash he had in hand (five hundred pieces),
and all his stock-in-trade, worth five hundred more. He asked of them
only to let him keep eight pennies, and the bag and the yoke that he
used to carry his things with. And these he took and departed.

And going quickly to the river-side, he gave those eight pennies to a
boatman, and got into the boat.

But the covetous hawker came back to the house, and said: “Bring out
that dish, I’ll give you something for it.”

Then she scolded him, and said: “You said our gold dish, worth a hundred
thousand, was not worth a halfpenny. But a just dealer, who seems to be
your master, gave us a thousand for it, and has taken it away.”

When he heard this he called out: “Through this fellow I have lost a
golden pot worth—Oh, worth a hundred thousand! He has ruined me
altogether!” And bitter sorrow overcame him, and he was unable to retain
his presence of mind, and he lost all self command. And scattering the
money he had, and all the goods, at the door of the house, he seized as
a club the yoke by which he had carried them, and tore off his clothes,
and pursued after the Bodisat.

When he reached the river-side, he saw the Bodisat going away, and he
cried out: “Hallo, Boatman! stop the boat!”

But the Bodisat said: “Don’t stop!” and so prevented that. And as the
other gazed and gazed at the departing Bodisat, he was torn with violent
grief; his heart grew hot, and blood flowed from his mouth until his
heart broke—like tank-mud in the heat of the sun.

Thus harboring hatred against the Bodisat, he brought about on that very
spot his own destruction. This was the first time that Devadatta
harbored hatred against the Bodisat.

But the Bodisat gave gifts, and did other good acts, and passed away
according to his deeds.

                     THE ELEPHANT THAT SPARED LIFE

At that time the Bodisat was born as a nobleman’s son. On the naming-day
they gave him the name of Prince Magha, and when he grew up he was known
as “Magha the young Brahmin.”

His parents procured him a wife from a family of equal rank; and,
increasing in sons and daughters, he became a great giver of gifts, and
kept the Five Commandments.

In that village there were as many as thirty families; and one day the
men of those families stopped in the middle of the village to transact
some village business. The Bodisat removed with his feet the lumps of
soil on the place where he stood, and made the spot convenient to stand
on; but another came up and stood there. Then he smoothed out another
spot, and took his stand there; but another man came and stood upon it.
Still the Bodisat tried again and again, with the same result, until he
had made convenient standing-room for all the thirty.

The next time he had an open-roofed shed put up there; and then pulled
that down, and built a hall, and had benches spread in it, and a
water-pot placed there. On another occasion those thirty men were
reconciled by the Bodisat, who confirmed them in the Five Commandments;
and thenceforward he continued with them in works of piety.

Whilst they were so living they used to rise up early, go out with
bill-hooks and crowbars in their hands, tear up with the crowbars the
stones in the four high roads and village paths, and roll them away,
take away the trees which would be in the way of vehicles, make the
rough places plain, form causeways, dig ponds, build public halls, give
gifts, and keep the Commandments—thus, in many ways, all the dwellers in
the village listened to the exhortations of the Bodisat, and kept the

Now the village headman said to himself: “I used to have great gain from
fines, and taxes, and pot-money, when these fellows drank strong drink,
or took life, or broke the other Commandments. But now Magha the young
Brahmin has determined to have the Commandments kept, and permits none
to take life, or to do anything else that is wrong. I’ll make them keep
the Commandments with a vengeance!”

And he went in a rage to the King, and said: “O King! there are a number
of robbers going about sacking the villages!”

“Go and bring them up!” said the King in reply.

And he went, and brought back all those men as prisoners, and had it
announced to the King that the robbers were brought up. And the King,
without inquiring what they had done, gave orders to have them all
trampled to death by elephants!

Then they made them all lie down in the courtyard, and fetched the
elephant. And the Bodisat exhorted them, saying: “Keep the Commandments
in mind. Regard them all—the slanderer, and the King, and the
elephant—with feelings as kind as you harbor towards yourselves!”

And they did so.

Then men led up the elephant; but though they brought him to the spot,
he would not begin his work, but trumpeted forth a mighty cry, and took
to flight. And they brought up another and another, but they all ran

“There must be some drug in their possession,” said the King; and gave
orders to have them searched. So they searched, but found nothing, and
told the King so.

“Then they must be repeating some spell. Ask them if they have any spell
to utter.”

The officials asked them, and the Bodisat said there was. And they told
the King, and he had them all called before him, and said: “Tell me that
spell you know!”

Then the Bodisat spoke, and said: “O King! we have no other spell but
this—that we destroy no life, not even of grass; that we take nothing
which is not given to us; that we are never guilty of unfaithfulness,
nor speak falsehood, nor drink intoxicants; that we exercise ourselves
in love, and give gifts; that we make rough places plain, dig ponds, and
put up rest-houses—this is our spell, this is our defense, this is our

Then the King had confidence in them, and gave them all the property in
the house of the slanderer, and made him their slave; and bestowed, too,
the elephant upon them, and made them a grant of the village.

                      HOW THE ANTELOPE WAS CAUGHT

Once upon a time the King of Benares had a gardener named Sanjaya. Now,
a swift antelope who had come to the garden took to flight as soon as it
saw Sanjaya. But Sanjaya did not frighten it away; and when it had come
again and again it began to walk about in the garden. And day by day the
gardener used to pluck the various fruits and flowers in the garden and
take them away to the King.

Now, one day the King asked him: “I say, friend gardener, is there
anything strange in the garden so far as you’ve noticed?”

“I’ve noticed nothing, O King, save that an antelope is in the habit of
coming and wandering about there. That I often see.”

“But could you catch it?”

“If I had a little honey I could bring it right inside the palace here!”

The King gave him the honey; and he took it, went to the garden, smeared
it on the grass at the spot the antelope frequented, and hid himself.
When the deer came and had eaten the honey-smeared grass, it was bound
with the lust of taste; and from that time went nowhere else, but came
exclusively to the garden. And as the gardener saw that it was allured
by the honey-smeared grass, he in due course showed himself. For a few
days the antelope took to flight on seeing him. But after seeing him
again and again it acquired confidence, and gradually came to eat grass
from the gardener’s hand. And when the gardener saw that its confidence
was gained, he strewed the path right up to the palace as thick with
branches as if he were covering it with mats, hung a gourdful of honey
over his shoulder, carried a bundle of grass at his waist, and then kept
sprinkling honey-smeared grass in front of the antelope till he led him
within the palace.

As soon as the deer had got inside, they shut the door. The antelope,
seeing men, began to tremble and quake with the fear of death, and ran
hither and thither about the hall. The King came down from his upper
chamber, and, seeing the trembling creature, said: “Such is the nature
of an antelope, that it will not go for a week afterwards to a place
where it has seen men, nor its life long to a place where it has been
frightened. Yet this one, with just such a disposition, and accustomed
only to the jungle, has now, bound by the lust of taste, come to just
such a place. Verily, there is nothing worse in the world than this lust
of taste!”

And when in other words he had shown the danger of greed, he let the
antelope go back to the forest.

                            THE BANYAN DEER

Long ago the Bodisat came to life as a deer. When he was born he was of
a golden color; his eyes were like round jewels; his horns were white as
silver; his mouth was red as a cluster of kamala flowers; his hoofs were
as bright and hard as lacquer-work; his tail as fine as the tail of a
Thibetan ox; and his body as large in size as a foal’s.

He lived in the forest with an attendant herd of five hundred deer,
under the name of the King of the Banyan Deer; and not far from him
there dwelt another deer, golden as he, under the name of the Monkey
Deer, with a like attendant herd.

The King of that country was devoted to hunting, never ate without meat,
and used to summon all the townspeople to go hunting every day to the
destruction of their ordinary work. The people thought, “This King puts
an end to all our work. Suppose we make a park, provide food and drink
for the deer. Then we will drive them into the park, close the entrance
and deliver them to the King.”

This they did, surrounding the very place where the Banyan Deer and the
Monkey Deer were living. When the King heard this, he went to the park,
and seeing there the two golden-colored deer, he granted them their
lives. But henceforth he would go himself to shoot the deer and bring it
home. Sometimes his cook would go and shoot one. The deer, as soon as
they saw the bow, would quake with fear of Death, and run away; but when
they had been hit once or twice, they became weary or wounded and were
killed. And the herd told their King, who sent for the Monkey Deer and
said: “Friend, almost all the Deer are being destroyed. Now, though they
certainly must die, yet henceforth let them not be wounded with arrows.
Let the deer take it by turns to go to the place of execution. One day
let the lot fall on my herd, and the next day on yours.”

He agreed, and thenceforth the deer whose turn it was used to go down
and lie down after placing his neck on the block of execution. And the
cook used to come and carry off the one he found lying there.

But one day the lot fell upon a roe in the Monkey Deer who was with
young. She went to the Monkey Deer and said: “Lord! I am with young.
When I have brought forth my son, we will both take our turn. Order the
bows to pass me by.”

“I cannot make your lot,” said he, “fall upon the others. You know well
enough it has fallen upon you. Go away!” Receiving no help from him, she
went to the Bodisat and told him the matter. He listened to her quietly
and said: “Be it so! Do you go back. I will relieve you of your turn.”
And he went himself and laid his head on the block of execution.

The cook, seeing him, exclaimed: “The King of the Deer whose life was
promised to him is lying in the place of execution. What does it mean?”
And he went hastily, and told the King.

The King no sooner heard it than he mounted his chariot and proceeded
with a great retinue to the place, and beholding the Bodisat, said: “My
friend, the King of the Deer! Did I not grant you your life? Why are you
lying here?”

“O great King! A roe with young came and told me that the lot had fallen
upon her. Now I could not ask another to take her place, so I, giving my
life for her, have lain down. Harbor no further suspicion, O great

“My Lord, the golden-colored King of the Deer! I never yet saw, even
among men, one so full of forbearance, kindness and compassion. I am
pleased with thee in this matter! Rise up. I grant your lives, both to
you and to her!”

“But though we be safe, what shall the rest do, O King of men?”

“Then I grant their lives to the rest, my Lord.”

“Thus, then, great King, the deer in the park will have gained security,
but what will the others do?”

“They also shall not be molested.”

“Great King! even though the deer dwell secure, what shall the rest of
the four-footed creatures do?”

“They shall also be free from fear.”

“Great King, even though the quadrupeds are in safety, what shall the
flock of birds do?”

“Well, I grant the same boon to them.”

“Great King! the birds then will obtain peace; but what of the fish who
dwell in the water?”

“They shall have peace as well.”

Then the Great Being having interceded with the King for all creatures,

“Walk in righteousness, O great King! Doing justice to fathers and
mothers, to townsmen and landsmen, you shall enter, when your body is
dissolved, the happy world of Heaven.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

The roe gave birth to a son as beautiful as buds of flowers; and he went
to playing about with the Monkey Deer’s herd. But when its mother saw
that, she said, “My son, henceforth go not in his company. You may keep
to the Banyan Deer’s herd.”

Now after that, the deer, secure of their lives, began to eat men’s
crops. And the men dared not strike them or drive them away,
recollecting how it had been granted to them that they should dwell
secure. So they met together in front of the King’s palace, and told the
matter to the King.

“When I was well pleased, I granted to the leader of the Banyan herd a
boon,” said he. “I may give up my kingdom but not my oaths! Begone with
you! Not a man in my kingdom shall be allowed to hurt the deer.”

When the Banyan King heard that, he assembled his herd, and said:

“Henceforth you are not allowed to eat other people’s crops.” And so
forbidding them, he sent a message to the men: “Henceforth let the
husbandmen put up no fence to guard their crops: but let them tie leaves
round the edge of the field as a sign.”

From that time, they say, the sign of the tying of the leaves was seen
in the fields, and from that time not a single deer trespassed beyond
it: for such was the instruction they received from (their King) the

And the Bodisat continued thus his life long to instruct the deer, and
passed away with his herd, according to his deeds.


And the Buddha was re-born in a Brahmin family and was known as
Dhamapala or Law Keeper.

When he came of age he was sent by his father to study with a world
famed teacher at Takasila and became the chief pupil in a company of
five hundred youths.

At that time the eldest son of the teacher died and the father,
surrounded by his pupils, in the midst of his kith and kin, buried his
son—and all the pupils wept and wailed, but Dhamapala was silent and
shed no tear, but when the company returned from the cemetery Dhamapala
asked, “Why did your son die? It is not right that children should die;
only when people grow old can this happen.” And they asked him, “Is it
the custom of your family that the young do not die?” And he said: “Yes,
that is the custom in my family.” The lads told this conversation to
their teacher.

Now when the teacher heard this, he said to them, “That is a most
marvelous thing that he says. I will make a journey to his father and
ask him about it, and if it be true I will live according to his rule of

And he said to the young man: “I am going on a journey. Do thou, in my
absence, instruct these youths.”

So saying, he procured the bones of a wild goat, washed and scented
them, and put them into a bag. Then taking with him a little page boy he
started for the village in which lived the father of his pupil.

When the house was reached, and the teacher had rested and taken food,
and the host had washed the feet of his guest, the teacher said:
“Brahmin, your son when full of wisdom has by an unhappy chance lost his
life. Grieve not for him.” The Brahmin laughed loudly. “Why do you
laugh, Brahmin?” asked the other. “Because,” he said, “it is _not_ my
son who is dead; it must be some other.”

“No, Brahmin, your son is dead, and no other. Look on his bones, and
believe.” So saying, he unwrapped the bones. “There are your son’s
bones,” he said.

“A wild goat’s bones, perhaps,” quoth the Brahmin, “or a dog’s, but my
son is not dead. In our family for seven generations, no such thing has
been known as a death in tender years, and you are speaking falsehood.”
Then they all clapped their hands and laughed aloud.

The teacher, when he beheld this wonderful thing, was much pleased and
said: “Brahmin, this custom in your family line cannot be without cause,
that the young do not die. Why _is_ it that you do not die young? Of
what good and holy deed is this the fruit?”

Then the Brahmin made answer:

“We walk in righteousness. We speak no ill. We flee from things that are
evil. We take no heed of the foolish. We follow the counsel of the wise.
We delight in giving gifts. We feed the hungry. We are faithful in our
marriage vows. We are versed in sacred knowledge. Therefore, the young
amongst us never die.”

On hearing this, the teacher replied: “A happy journey is this of mine
and fruitful. I came hither, O wise Brahmin, to test you. Your son is
safe and well. I pray you impart to me your rule of preserving life.”

Then the other wrote it on a leaf and returned to his pupils.

                         THE MAN WHO TOLD A LIE

On one occasion four divine beings made their appearance on the Earth to
attend a festival of the Gods.

And they bore in their hands wreaths of the strangest flowers that had
ever been seen, and those around asked: “What are these flowers?” And
the Gods made answer and said: “These divine flowers are fit for those
possessed of great powers: for the base, the foolish, the faithless, the
sinful beings within the world of men, they are _not_ fitted. But,
whosoever amongst men is endowed with certain virtues—to them is due the
honor of wearing these flowers.

    “He who steals no thing from another,
    Who uttereth no lie,
    Who doth not lose his head at the height of Fame—
    He may wear the flowers.”

Now there was a certain false Teacher or Priest who thought to himself:
“I do not possess one of these qualities, but, by appearing to possess
them, I shall obtain permission to wear the wreaths, and the people will
believe that I really am what I appear to be, and they will place their
confidence in me.”

Then, with exceeding boldness, he came to the first of the Gods and
exclaimed with great solemnity: “Behold, _I_ am endowed with these
qualities of which you speak—

“I have stolen from no man, never have I uttered a lie, nor has fame
ever caused me to be proud or haughty.”

And when he had uttered these words, the wreath was placed upon his
brow. And, emboldened by his success, he came with the same pride and
confidence into the presence of the second God, and asked that the
second wreath should be bestowed upon him.

And the God said:

    “He who earns wealth honestly, and shuns dishonest means,
    Who takes but sparingly of the Cup of Pleasure,
    To him shall be awarded this second wreath.”

And the false Priest bowed his head and said: “Behold all that I have
earned is honestly gotten, and all pleasure have I shunned. Give me the

And the wreath was placed upon his brow.

Then, with boldness increased by his success, he approached the third
God, and asked that the third wreath should encircle his brow.

And the God said:

    “He who scorns choice food,
    Who never turneth from his purpose,
    Who keepeth his faith unchanged,
    To him shall be given the wreath.”

And the false Priest said: “I have ever lived on the simplest fare. I
have been ever steadfast of purpose, and loyal in my faith. Therefore
give _me_ the wreath.”

And the third wreath was bestowed upon him.

Then did the pride of the false Priest know no bounds, and he went
hastily to the fourth God and demanded the fourth wreath.

And the God said:

    “He who will attack no good man to his face or behind his back,
    And who keeps his word in all things,
    To him belongs this wreath.”

Then the false Priest cried out in a loud voice: “I have attacked no
man, good or evil, and never have I broken my word to any.”

The God looked at him sadly, but he placed the wreath upon his brow, and
the four divine beings disappeared from the sight of man. But no sooner
had they left the earth than the Priest felt a violent pain. His head
seemed to be crushed by spikes, and, writhing in agony, he made full
confession and begged that the flowers should be removed from his head;
but though all pitied his condition, none could remove the flowers, for
they seemed to be fastened on with an iron band.

And he called aloud to the Gods, saying

“O ye great powers, forgive my pride and spare my life!” And they
answered: “These flowers are not meet for the wicked. You have received
the reward of your false words.” Then, having rebuked him in the
presence of the people, they removed the flowers from the head of the
repentant man and returned to the abode of the Blest.

                     THE CROW THAT THOUGHT IT KNEW

Once upon a time, while Brahma-datta reigned as king in Benares, the
Bodhisatta became a marsh crow, and dwelt by a certain pool. His name
was Viraka, the Strong.

There arose a famine in Kasi. Men could not spare food for the crows,
nor make offering to goblins and snakes. One by one the crows left the
famine-stricken land, and betook them to the woods.

A certain crow named Savitthaka, who lived at Benares, took with him his
lady crow and went to the place where Viraka lived, making his abode
beside the same pool.

One day, this crow was seeking food about the pool. He saw how Viraka
went down into it, and made a meal off some fish; and afterwards came up
out of the water again, and stood drying his feathers. “Under the wing
of that crow,” thought he, “plenty of fish are to be got. I will become
his servant.” So he drew near.

“What is it, Sir?” asked Viraka.

“I want to be your servant, my Lord!” was the reply.

Viraka agreed, and from that time the other served him. And from that
time, Viraka used to eat enough fish to keep him alive, and the rest he
gave to Savitthaka as soon as he had caught them; and when Savitthaka
had eaten enough to keep him alive, he gave what was over to his wife.

After a while pride came into his heart. “This crow,” said he, “is
black, and so am I: in eyes and beak and feet, too, there is no
difference between us. I don’t want his fish; I will catch my own!” So
he told Viraka that for the future he intended to go down to the water
and catch fish himself. Then Viraka said, “Good friend, you do not
belong to a tribe of such crows as are born to go into water and catch
fish. Don’t destroy yourself!”

But in spite of this attempt to dissuade him, Savitthaka did not take
the warning to heart. Down he went to the pool, into the water; but he
could not make his way through the weeds and come out again—there he
was, entangled in the weeds, with only the tip of his beak appearing
above the water. So not being able to breathe he perished there beneath
the water.

His mate noticed that he did not return, and went to Viraka to ask news
of him. “My Lord,” she asked, “Savitthaka is not to be seen: where is
he?” And as she asked him this, she repeated the first stanza:—

    “O have you seen Savitthaka, O Viraka, have you seen
      My sweet-voiced mate whose neck is like the peacock in its sheen?”

When Viraka heard it, he replied, “Yes, I know where he is gone,” and
recited the second stanza:—

    “He was not born to dive beneath the wave,
      But what he could not do he needs must try;

    So the poor bird has found a watery grave,
      Entangled in the weeds, and left to die.”

When the lady-crow heard it, weeping, she returned to Benares.

                             THE JUDAS TREE

Once upon a time Brahmadatta, the king of Benares, had four sons. One
day they sent for the charioteer, and said to him:

“We want to see a Judas tree; show us one!”

“Very well, I will,” the charioteer replied. But he did not show it to
them all together. He took the eldest at once to the forest in the
chariot, and showed him the tree at the time when the buds were just
sprouting from the stem. To the second he showed it when the leaves were
green, to the third at the time of blossoming, and to the fourth when it
was bearing fruit.

After this it happened that the four brothers were sitting together, and
some one asked, “What sort of a tree is the Judas tree?” Then the first
brother answered:

“Like a burnt stump!”

And the second cried, “Like a banyan tree!”

And the third—“Like a piece of meat!”

And the fourth said, “Like the acacia!”

They were vexed at each other’s answers, and ran to find their father.
“My Lord,” they asked, “what sort of a tree is the Judas tree?”

“What did you say to that?” he asked. They told him the manner of their
answers. Said the king:

“All four of you have seen the tree. Only when the charioteer showed you
the tree, you did not ask him, 'What is the tree like at such a time?’
or 'at such another time?’ You made no distinctions, and that is the
reason for your mistake.” And he repeated the first stanza:—

    “All have seen the Judas tree—
    What is your perplexity?
    No one asked the charioteer
    What its form the livelong year!”

                      THE RIVER FISH AND THE MONEY

Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta
was born in the family of a landed proprietor.

When he grew up, he became a wealthy man. He had a young brother.
Afterwards their father died. They determined to arrange some business
of their father’s. This took them to a village, where they were paid a
thousand pieces of money. On their way back, as they waited on a
river-bank for the boat, they ate a meal out of a leaf-pottle. The
Bodhisatta threw what he left into the Ganges for the fishes, giving the
merit to the river-spirit. The spirit accepted this with gratification,
which increased her divine power, and on thinking over this increase of
her power, became aware what had happened. The Bodhisatta laid his upper
garment upon the sand, and there he lay down and went to sleep.

Now the young brother was of a rather thievish nature. He wanted to
filch the money from the Bodhisatta and keep it himself; so he packed a
parcel of gravel to look like the parcel of money, and put them both

When they had got aboard, and were come to mid-river, the younger
stumbled against the side of the boat, and dropped overboard the parcel
of gravel, as he thought, but really the money.

“Brother, the money’s overboard!” he cried. “What’s to be done?”

“What can we do? What’s gone is gone. Never mind about it,” replied the

But the river-spirit thought how pleased she had been with the merit she
had received, and how her divine power had been increased, and resolved
to take care of his property. So by her power she made a big-mouthed
fish swallow the parcel, and took care of it herself.

When the thief got home, he chuckled over the trick he had served his
brother, and undid the remaining parcel. There was nothing but gravel to
be seen! His heart dried up; he fell on his bed, and clutched the

Now some fishermen just then cast their nets for a draught. By power of
the river-spirit, this fish fell into the net. The fishers took it to
town to sell. People asked what the price was.

“A thousand pieces and seven annas,” said the fishermen.

Everybody made fun of them. “We have seen a fish offered for a thousand
pieces!” they laughed.

The fishers brought their fish to the Bodhisatta’s door, and asked him
to buy it.

“What’s the price?” he asked.

“You may have it for seven annas,” they said.

“What did you ask other people for it?”

“From other people we asked a thousand rupees and seven annas; but you
may have it for seven annas,” they said.

He paid seven annas for it, and sent it to his wife. She cut it open,
and there was the parcel of money! She called the Bodhisatta. He gave a
look, and recognizing his mark, knew it for his own. Thought he, “These
fishers asked other people the price of a thousand rupees and seven
annas, but because the thousand rupees were mine, they let me have it
for seven annas only! If a man does not understand the meaning of this,
nothing will ever make him believe.”

When he had said this, he wondered how it was that he had recovered his
money. At the moment the river-spirit hovered invisibly in the air, and

“I am the Spirit of the Ganges. You gave the remains of your meal to the
fishes, and let me have the merit. Therefore I have taken care of your

Then the Spirit told about the mean trick which the younger brother had
played. Then she added, “There he lies, with his heart dried up within
him. There is no prosperity for the cheat. But I have brought you your
own, and I warn you not to lose it. Don’t give it to your young thief of
a brother, but keep it all yourself.”

Thus spoke the Spirit, not wishing that the treacherous villain should
receive the money. But the Bodhisatta said, “That is impossible,” and
all the same sent the brother five hundred.

                        THE DREAMER IN THE WOOD

Now the Buddha once upon a time lived alone in the woods, in the ecstasy
of meditation. For wild fruits he went no further afield. When fruit
grew upon the tree, he ate the fruit; in time of flowers, he ate
flowers. When the leaves grew, he ate leaves. When leaves were none, he
ate the bark of trees. Thus, in the highest contentment he lived a long
time in that place.

Now on a day, Sakka, the King of the gods, appeared before him and,
wishing to test him, said: “Behold yon man, all black of hue, my spirit
likes him not.”

Now by his divine insight the Buddha knew that Sakka spoke to him. And
he made answer and said:

“Though black of hue, I am a true Brahmin. A man is not black by reason
of his outer skin; only can sin make him black.” Thus he discoursed to
Sakka, and it was as he had made the moon to rise in the sky. And the
god asked him what boon he would crave.

And the Divine being asked to be free of three things: malice, hatred
and greed.

Then Sakka: “What is bad in these things?” And Buddha made answer,
“Because hatred grows from small to great and is ever full of
bitterness. Malice brings evil. First word, then touch, next fist, then
staff, and last the swordstroke flashing free. When men are urged by
greed, then arise fraud and deceit and swift pursuit of savage loot——”

“Then,” said Sakka, “choose another boon.”

Then said the Buddha, “Grant that in the woods where I live alone, no
disease may mar my peace, or break my ecstasy.”

Then said Sakka, “He chooseth no thing connected with food.” And he
granted yet another boon.

And the Buddha said, “Let no creature ever be harmed for me in body or
in mind.”

And Sakka made the tree bear fruit perennially, and saluting the Buddha
by touching his head with joined hands, he said:

“Dwell here for ever free from disease,” and returned to his throne.

                            THE RICE MEASURE

Long ago, Brahmadatta was king in Benares, in the land of Kāsi. At that
time our Bodisat was his valuer. He valued both horses, elephants, or
things of that kind; and jewelry, gold, or things of that kind; and
having done so, he used to have the proper price for the goods given to
the owners thereof.

Now the King was covetous. And in his avarice he thought, “If this
valuer estimates in this way, it will not be long before all the wealth
in my house will come to an end. I will appoint another valuer.”

And opening his window, and looking out into the palace yard, he saw a
stupid miserly peasant crossing the yard. Him he determined to make his
valuer; and sending for him, asked if he would undertake the office. The
man said he could; and the King, with the object of keeping his treasure
safer, established that fool in the post of valuer.

Thenceforward the dullard used to value the horses and elephants, paying
no regard to their real value, but deciding just as he chose; and since
he had been appointed to the office, as he decided, so the price was.

Now at that time a horse-dealer brought five hundred horses from the
northern prairies. The King sent for that fellow, and had the horses
valued. And he valued the five hundred horses at a mere measure of rice,
and straightway ordered the horse-dealer to be given the measure of
rice, and the horses to be lodged in the stable. Then the horse-dealer
went to the former valuer, and told him what had happened, and asked him
what he should do.

“Give a bribe to that fellow,” said he, “and ask him thus: 'We know now
that so many horses of ours are worth a measure of rice, but we want to
know from you what a measure of rice is worth. Can you value it for us,
standing in your place by the King?’ If he says he can, go with him into
the royal presence, and I will be there too.”

The horse-dealer accepted the Bodisat’s advice, went to the valuer, and
bribed him, and gave him the hint suggested. And he took the bribe, and
said, “All right! I can value your measure of rice for you.”

“Well, then, let us go to the audience-hall,” said he; and taking him
with him, went into the King’s presence. And the Bodisat and many other
ministers went there also.

The horse-dealer bowed down before the King, and said, “I acknowledge, O
King, that a measure of rice is the value of the five hundred horses;
but will the King be pleased to ask the valuer what the value of the
measure of rice may be?”

The King, not knowing what had happened, asked, “How now, valuer, _what_
are five hundred horses worth?”

“A measure of rice, O King!” said he.

“Very good, then! If five hundred horses are worth only a measure of
rice, what is that measure of rice worth?”

“The measure of rice is worth all Benares, both within and without the
walls,” replied that foolish fellow.

For the story goes that he first valued the horses at a measure of rice
just to please the King; and then, when he had taken the dealer’s bribe,
valued that measure of rice at the whole of Benares. Now at that time
the circumference of the rampart of Benares was twelve leagues, and the
land in its suburbs was three hundred leagues in extent. Yet the foolish
fellow estimated that so-great city of Benares, together with all its
suburbs, at a measure of rice!

Hearing this the ministers clapped their hands, laughing, and saying,
“We used to think the broad earth, and the King’s realm, were alike
beyond price; but this great and famous royal city is worth, by his
account, just a measure of rice! O the depth of the wisdom of the
valuer! How can he have stayed so long in office? Truly he is just
suited to our King!” Thus they laughed him to scorn.

Then the Bodisat uttered this stanza:

    “What is a measure of rice worth?
    All Benares and its environs!
    And what are five hundred horses worth?
    That same measure of rice!”

Then the king was ashamed, and drove out that fool, and appointed the
Bodisat to the office of valuer. And in course of time the Bodisat
passed away according to his deeds.

                          THE POISONOUS TREES

Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the
Bodhisatta was born a merchant. When he grew up, and was trading with
five hundred wagons, he came one day to where the road led through a
great forest. Halting at the outskirts, he mustered the caravan and
addressed them thus:—“Poison-trees grow in this forest. Take heed that
you taste no unfamiliar leaf, flower, or fruit without first consulting
me.” All promised to take every care; and the journey into the forest
began. Now just within the forest-border stands a village, and just
outside that village grows a What-fruit tree. That What-fruit tree
exactly resembles a mango alike in trunk, branch, leaf, flower, and
fruit. And not only in outward semblance, but also in taste and smell,
the fruit—ripe and unripe—mimics the mango. If eaten, it is a deadly
poison, and causes instant death.

Now some greedy fellows, who went on ahead of the caravan, came to this
tree and, taking it to be a mango, ate of its fruit. But others said,
“Let us ask our leader before we eat”; and they accordingly halted by
the tree, fruit in hand, till he came up. Perceiving that it was no
mango, he said:—“This 'mango’ is a What-fruit tree; don’t touch its

Having stopped them from eating, the Bodhisatta turned his attention to
those who had already eaten. First he dosed them with an emetic, and
then he gave them the four sweet foods to eat; so that in the end they

Now on former occasions caravans had halted beneath this same tree, and
had died from eating the poisonous fruit which they mistook for mangoes.
On the morrow the villagers would come, and seeing them lying there
dead, would fling them by the heels into a secret place, departing with
all the belongings of the caravan, wagons and all.

And on the day too of our story these villagers failed not to hurry at
daybreak to the tree for their expected spoils. “The oxen must be ours,”
said some. “And we’ll have the wagons,” said others;—whilst others again
claimed the wares as their share. But when they came breathless to the
tree, there was the whole caravan alive and well!

“How came you to know this was not a mango tree?” demanded the
disappointed villagers. “We didn’t know,” said they of the caravan; “it
was our leader who knew.”

So the villagers came to the Bodhisatta and said, “Man of wisdom, what
did you do to find out this tree was not a mango?”

“Two things told me,” replied the Bodhisatta, and he repeated this

    “When near a village grows a tree
    Not hard to climb, ’tis plain to me,
    Nor need I further proof to know,
    —No wholesome fruit thereon can grow!”

And having taught the Truth to the assembled multitude, he finished his
journey in safety.

                       THE WELL-TRAINED ELEPHANT

Once upon a time when King Magadha was ruling in Rajagaha in Magadha,
the Bodhisatta was born an elephant. He was white all over and graced
with all beauty. And because of his beauty the King made him his state

One festal day the King adorned the city like a city of the devas and,
mounted on the elephant in all its trappings, made a solemn procession
round the city attended by a great retinue. And all along the route the
people were moved by the sight of that peerless elephant to exclaim,
“Oh, what a stately gait! what proportions! what beauty! what grace!
such a white elephant is worthy of an universal monarch.” All this
praise of his elephant awoke the King’s jealousy and he resolved to have
it cast over a precipice and killed. So he summoned the mahout and asked
whether he called that a trained elephant.

“Indeed he is well trained, Sire,” said the mahout. “No, he is very
badly trained.” “Sire, he is well trained.” “If he is so well trained,
can you get him to climb to the summit of Mount Vepulla?” “Yes, Sire.”
“Away with you, then,” said the King. And he got down from the elephant,
making the mahout mount instead, and went himself to the foot of the
mountain, whilst the mahout rode on the elephant’s back up to the top of
Mount Vepulla. The King with his courtiers also climbed the mountain,
and had the elephant halted at the brink of a precipice. “Now,” said he
to the man, “if he is so well trained as you say, make him stand on
three legs.”

And the mahout on the elephant’s back just touched the animal with his
goad by way of sign and called to him, “Hi! my beauty, stand on three
legs.” “Now make him stand on his two fore-legs,” said the King. And the
Great Being raised his hind-legs and stood on his fore-legs alone. “Now
on the hind-legs,” said the King, and the obedient elephant raised his
fore-legs till he stood on his hind-legs alone. “Now on one leg,” said
the King, and the elephant stood on one leg.

Seeing that the elephant did not fall over the precipice, the King
cried, “Now if you can, make him stand in the air.”

Then thought the mahout to himself, “All India cannot show the match of
this elephant for excellence of training. Surely the King must want to
make him tumble over the precipice and meet his death.” So he whispered
in the elephant’s ear, “My son, the King wants you to fall over and get
killed. He is not worthy of you. If you have power to journey through
the air, rise up with me upon your back and fly through the air to

And the Great Being, endowed as he was with the marvelous powers which
flow from Merit, straightway rose up into the air. Then said the mahout,
“Sire, this elephant, possessed as he is with the marvelous powers which
flow from Merit, is too good for such a worthless fool as you: none but
a wise and good King is worthy to be his master. When those who are so
worthless as you get an elephant like this, they don’t know his value,
and so they lose their elephant, and all the rest of their glory and
splendor.” So saying the mahout, seated on the elephant’s neck, recited
this stanza:—

    “Exalted station breeds a fool great woe;
    He proves his own and others’ mortal foe.”

“And now, good-by,” said he to the King as he ended this rebuke; and
rising in the air, he passed to Benares and halted in mid-air, over the
royal courtyard. And there was a great stir in the city and all cried
out, “Look at the state-elephant that has come through the air for our
King and is hovering over the royal courtyard.” And with all haste the
news was conveyed to the King, too, who came out and said, “If your
coming is for my behoof, alight on the earth.” And the Bodhisatta
descended from the air. Then the mahout got down and bowed before the
King, and in answer to the King’s enquiries told the whole story of
their leaving Rajagaha. “It was very good of you,” said the King, “to
come here”; and in his joy he had the city decorated and the elephant
installed in his state-stable. Then he divided his kingdom into three
portions, and made over one to the Bodhisatta, one to the mahout, and
one he kept himself. And his power grew from the day of the Bodisatta’s
coming till all India owned his sovereign sway. As Emperor of India, he
was charitable and did other good works till he passed away to fare
according to his deserts.

                           THE WISE PHYSICIAN

Kisāgotamī is the name of a young girl, whose marriage with the only son
of a wealthy man was brought about in true fairy-tale fashion. She had
one child, but when the beautiful boy could run alone, it died. The
young girl in her love for it carried the dead child clasped to her
bosom, and went from house to house of her pitying friends asking them
to give her medicine for it. But a Buddhist mendicant, thinking, “She
does not understand,” said to her: “My good girl, I myself have no such
medicine as you ask for, but I think I know of one who has.” “Oh, tell
me who that is!” said Kisāgotamī. “The Buddha can give you medicine: go
to him,” was the answer.

She went to Gautama, and doing homage to him, said: “Lord and Master, do
you know any medicine that will be good for my child?”

“Yes, I know of some,” said the Teacher.

Now it was the custom for patients or their friends to provide the herbs
which the doctors required, so she asked what herbs he would want. “I
want some mustard-seed,” he said; and when the poor girl eagerly
promised to bring some of so common a drug, he added: “You must get it
from some house where no son, or husband, or parent, or slave has died.”
“Very good,” she said, and went to ask for it, still carrying her dead
child with her. The people said: “Here is mustard-seed, take it.” But
when she asked, “In my friend’s house has any son died, or a husband, or
a parent, or slave?” they answered: “Lady! what is this that thou
sayest; the living are few, but the dead are many.” Then she went to
other houses, but one said: “I have lost a son”; another, “We have lost
our parents”; another, “I have lost my slave.”

At last, not being able to find a single house where no one had died,
her mind began to clear, and, summoning up resolution, she left the dead
body of her child in a forest, and returning to the Buddha paid him
homage. He said to her: “Have you the mustard-seed?” “My Lord,” she
replied, “I have not; the people tell me that the living are few, but
the dead are many.” Then he talked to her on that essential part of his
system—the impermanency of all things, till her doubts were cleared
away, and, accepting her lot, she became a disciple and entered the
first Path.

    The following lines, ascribed to some of her Sisters in the Order
    and given in the _Psalms_ (translated by Mrs. Rhys Davids), would
    apply to Kisāgotamī:—

        “Lo! from my heart the hidden shaft is gone,
        The shaft that nestled there hath he removed;
        And that consuming grief for my dear child,
        Which poisoned all the life of me, is dead.
        To-day my heart is healed, my yearning stayed,
        Perfected the deliverance wrought in me.”

                           NOTES FOR TEACHERS

The following notes are intended for teachers who may wish to use this
collection as a class text book. In all these stories we have the idea
of the Indian God in various re-incarnations until he has attained full
Buddhahood. Beyond occasionally mentioning the fact of Re-birth in
introducing the story (so as to preserve the Oriental flavor) I do not
insist on this, nor do I introduce the name of the Buddha into the
actual table of contents at the beginning of the book, as it might seem
abstruse to the younger readers. But because I wish to appeal to
scholars in the higher sense as well as to boys and girls, I have tried
in many instances to preserve the language as given in the translation
from the Pali. I have also tried to avoid cutting out any important
episodes; this sometimes happens in the popular adaptation of these
deeply ethical stories. I have tried to keep as far as possible the
Eastern point of view, since the book is sponsored by one of the
foremost of Oriental Scholars, Dr. Rhys Davids, who has helped me with
his advice, and taught me the spirit of the whole conception.

                         THE HARE THAT RAN AWAY

This is the only story I have completely re-adapted for quite small
children, and I have found it among the most popular. I often tell it in
connection with Hans C. Andersen’s story of the “Scandal in the Poultry
Yard,” of which the subject is practically the same: the first being
simple and direct, the second veiled in gentle satire.

                      THE MONKEY AND THE CROCODILE

I include this story because of the lighter side and because we cannot
hide from our boys and girls that craft does enter into the question of
success as the world understands it. It is, however, in my mind where
the Buddha is not at his highest level. Perhaps the less this story is
explained the better.

                    THE SPIRIT THAT LIVED IN A TREE

This story I consider to be one of the most beautiful in the collection.
We cannot baldly appeal to the children to think “of the next
generation,” but this wonderful picture must fire their imagination
where the ordinary didactic appeal might fail.


In this story it may be necessary to make a few words of comment on the
point of view of the Buddha which might not be quite intelligible to the
child. The fact, that though he was ready to sacrifice his own body he
had a care for the tiny insects which might perish with him, has much
significance in the story scheme. It shows not only the letter of the
law but the spirit of the love which prompted him to act, and represents
one of the principal tenets of the Buddhist Faith. The whole story is
somewhat remote from modern life, but I have found it of great interest
to children of different ages, most especially at the time when Fast
Days were called for.


The dramatic interest of this story appeals to all ages. I have found
quite young children enthralled by the adventures of the parrot. I take
exception to the lack of poetic justice in the kinsfolk sharing the
parrot’s reward—but it was necessary to the Buddha’s happiness, and if
children should raise the question, I should explain it on that ground.

                    THE MAN WHO WORKED TO GIVE ALMS

The method of alms-giving may not appeal to modern feeling, but the
spirit in which the gifts were made rises to wonderful heights, and the
deeds are sanctified by the self-sacrifice which brings them about. In
telling this story to groups of boys and girls accustomed to the
warnings of charity organizations, the different conditions in the East
might be mentioned.

We have here the same idea as in the story of the King who gave his
eyes. This story seems to lead up to the other, in which the sacrifice
is so much greater.

                       THE KING WHO SAW THE TRUTH

This story may seem at first to be above the plane of the young child. I
have eliminated all the physical suffering, because it is not necessary
to bring out the real meaning of the story. Older children (whether in
years or understanding) will be able to appreciate the beauty of the
sacrifice and the exceeding greatness of the reward.


The fact that the Buddha insists on a fair wage, not from selfish greed
but for the sake of his employer, lifts the story from the realm of the
commonplace which the subject might suggest.


An excellent illustration for children of the necessity of kindness to
animals, not only from the merciful point of view, but from the
practical question of ensuring good work.


The children will be much impressed by the courage of the horse, and the
power of will he shows in accomplishing the task he has set himself. It
is the spirit of the soldier at its best and might be cited as displayed
during the Great War by individuals from all nations.

                     THE MONKEY THAT SAVED THE HERD

This is one of the most practical stories in the collection, showing
that for success in leadership it is necessary to have a quiet mind, a
great deal of knowledge, and a firm belief in success. This is the way
ogres are outwitted. The frank laying down of his cards, his open
declaration of his plans to the enemy, present the Bodisat at his best.

There is an unconscious note of humor in this tale, in presenting a
monkey as possessed of such complete self-control as to be able to bring
about so great a miracle, but if any explanation is offered in the
telling of these tales, it should be that, whatever the outward form,
the Buddha preserves the attribute of a god.


Origin of the “Goose that laid the Golden Eggs”; Pali word for golden
goose is Hansa, whence Gans, goose.


For encouraging a spirit of enterprise, and courage under difficulties,
this is an admirable story. I think both boys and girls will apply it
(unconsciously) in their everyday undertakings, but this will depend
largely on the manner in which it is told: it must appeal to the
imagination through the dramatic presentation.


A splendid example of the honor we ought to show to those old people in
the community who have done really good work. This story might be taken
in connection with stories from history illustrating the same point.

                          THE FAITHFUL FRIEND

A story which will encourage children’s interest in animals and their
characteristics, and will increase their interest in observing the ways
of those animals under their care.

                        THE HAWK AND THE OSPREY

This story should be told as dramatically as possible, because it is
full of action and will hold the children quite breathless. The little
touch of the lion objecting at first to be roused at an unreasonable
hour is delightfully human, and the fact that when he realizes the
necessity he is ready to help, is worthy of his high position among the

                       GRANDMOTHER’S GOLDEN DISH

This story is specially useful because since _rogues_ are so often
successful in the ordinary sense, and we are bound to admit this
ordinary success, it is well that a graphic description of the triumph
of honesty should be presented to children which will at once appeal to
their sense of fairness.

                     THE ELEPHANT THAT SPARED LIFE

This may seem a little too lofty for the children, but I think it well
to include a few stories where the standard may seem too high and the
action quixotic. In later years they will realize the philosophy of the
story, but the dramatic interest will appeal at once.

                      HOW THE ANTELOPE WAS CAUGHT

This is an admirable treatise on the relative value of things which
children are quick to see. It should be told with increasing dramatic
force up to the final run of the foolish antelope who has sacrificed his
liberty to his greed.

                            THE BANYAN DEER

This is one of the most beautiful of all the Jataka stories. I have
given the whole as translated from the Buddhist Birth Stories, only
leaving out parts of the description. Any curtailed edition of the
action of this story, leaving out the tenderness of the Bodisat for the
deer that is “with young,” robs the story of its most beautiful meaning.


This is a healthy idea and one which should commend itself to the young
who are naturally averse to the idea of Death. It is the opposite of the
idea: Whom the gods love, die young.

                         THE MAN WHO TOLD A LIE

In this story, if it is considered injudicious to tell children of the
hypocrisy of the teacher and the priest, the title of the man could be
left out. For my part, and from experience as a teacher, I have always
found it wise to admit and condemn the same faults in teachers and
preachers as in the laity, but to point out to the children that those
same faults are the more reprehensible because of the profession which
is degraded by such people as the false priest.

                     THE CROW THAT THOUGHT IT KNEW

This story shows the power of the skilled workman. The one who was not
skilled thought he could do more than he had the power to do, and came
to grief.

                             THE JUDAS TREE

The point of this story is the impossibility of a just judgment without
full knowledge of your subject. Each one has only a partial knowledge
and is therefore excluded from the knowledge of the whole.

                      THE RIVER FISH AND THE MONEY

The power of honesty restores the lost treasure. The Bodisatta is not
anxious about it, preserves his calm, and recovers it. Observe the way
in which he keeps only the money which belongs to him, refusing to
withhold it from the dishonest man.

                        THE DREAMER IN THE WOOD

I have hesitated to include this story as beyond the range of children
but I leave it for the abnormal child who may value the joy of solitude.

                            THE RICE MEASURE

The King falls easily into the trap that is laid for him. His craving
for greed leads him to appoint a fool and the fool leads to his failure.

                          THE POISONOUS TREES

Here we have the skill of knowledge. The Bodisatta knows how to
distinguish the mango tree from the What-fruit tree, and to save the
life of those who had eaten therefrom.

                       THE WELL-TRAINED ELEPHANT

Here we have the Bodisatta ready to do the miracle that he may convince
the King that he is unworthy to possess him. The whole picture is very
striking and the story lends itself to dramatic effect.

                           THE WISE PHYSICIAN

I am indebted to Sir Robert Morant, K.C.B., who has kindly been
interested in the preparation of my book as a whole, for the suggestion
that I should include this story (although it is not one of the series
of Buddha Re-Birth Stories to which all the others belong), also for the
reminder of this special version—namely, the woman’s own recognition,
through her personal experience, of the impermanence of those things
which seem to be lasting.

I should not suggest this story as one which would appeal to children. I
have included it for “children of larger growth” as embodying one of the
important tenets of the Buddhist Faith, and as showing how personal
grief may be assuaged in gaining sympathy with the sorrow of others.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

Missing or obscured punctuation was corrected.

Typographical errors were silently corrected.

Spelling and hyphenation were made consistent when a predominant form
was found in this book; otherwise it was not changed.

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