Once upon a time, the Bodhisattva was born as a pious and kind-hearted king whose charity and humility were widely known. He was respected by one and all and came to be known as Matribala, which meant “He, whose strength is kindness.” King Matribala’s love for virtue had influenced his subjects and they too followed the path of virtue. The kingdom of King Matribala was never disturbed by any criminal activities. The people were free from fear and enjoyed complete security.
One day, five Yakshas whom Kubera, the King of Yakshas, had banished from his kingdom due to some offence they had committed, reached the kingdom of King Matribala. These yakshas were wicked and never wished anyone any good. They were jealous of the happy kingdom and decided to wreak havoc. But the power of virtue and the benevolence of the king acted as a magical shield for the people. The yakshas could not understand why they failed time and again. “It is strange that out power is useless here. But we must not give up. Let us find out what is stopping us,” they said to each other. Taking the guise of poor Brahmins, they started exploring the kingdom. They reached a forest where they saw a lone shepherd boy resting under a large tree, lost in thoughts. It seemed from his face that no fear, distrust or sorrow had ever touched him. The yakshas asked him, “Dear boy, you are all alone in the forest. Aren’t you scared?” The shepherd boy asked them why he should feel scared. “Haven’t you heard about yakshas who thrive on human flesh and blood? Even the bravest of the brave fear them,” said the yakshas. Hearing this, the young man burst into laughter. “It seems you are new to this country. The magic shield of our king’s virtue protects our kingdom. It is not possible for even the gods to make a dent in this shield. So I find no reason to be afraid,” said he. The yakshas left the kingdom, never to return.
The pious King Sivi of Aritthapura was none other than the Bodhisattva. The stories of his kindness and charity spread to faraway lands, so much so that the gods in heaven also heard them. So Sakka, the King of Gods, visited the king’s court in the guise of a blind Brahmin. The king welcomed him warmly and enquired about the reason of his visit. “Oh pious king, I have heard about your kindness and have thus come to seek your help. I really want to see this beautiful world with my own eyes. Will you please gift me your eyes?” The entire court was shocked to hear these words. But he king was calm, and against the opposition of his friends and courtiers, he gifted his two beautiful eyes to the Brahmin. Sakka was moved by the king’s sacrifice and revealed his identity. He then blessed the king profusely and restored his sight.
A crow once visited the island of birds and longed to feast on the fledglings and eggs. He stood on one leg with his mouth open and declared that he was a holy being who lived on nothing else but wind. Believing the sly crow, the birds requested him to watch over their eggs and babies while they went to gather food. When the birds were gone, the crow went up to their nests and ate up most of the eggs and babies.
When the birds returned, they raised a hue and cry looking for their eggs and their young ones, without once suspecting the crow who they believed was a holy being. Day passed and one day the Bodhisattva, who was the king of the birds, secretly kept watch, and caught the crow red-handed and punished him.
The Bodhisattva was once born as Ghata, the king of Benaras. He was a very virtuous and just king. One day king Ghata saw one of his ministers misbehaving with a woman. He was furious and banished the minister from his kingdom. The wicked minister went to Vanka, the king of a neighbouring state and planned to take revenge. He persuaded king Vanka to attack the kingdom of Benaras. King Ghata lost the battle and was taken prisoner. One day, while King Vanka was on a round of the prison, he saw Ghata meditating peacefully in his cell. Unable to hold back his curiosity, King Vanka went up to Ghata and asked, “How can you remain so calm and peaceful when you are in prison?” At this Ghata smiled and said, “To grieve is in vain. Grief cannot heal the sorrow of the past and gives no hope for the future. So why should I allow it to master me?” Ghata’s words impressed King Vanka and not only did he set him free, but also restored Ghata’s kingdom back to its rightful ruler.
Once upon a time the Bodhisattva was born as Uposatha, the king of the Chaddanta elephants who were considered to have the highest rank among elephants. The majestic elephant was known for his handsome white body, red face and feet and six shining tusks. He lived deep inside a forest along with his two wives Mahasubhadda and Chullasubhadda.
One day, after bathing in the river that flowed through the forest, Uposatha was frolicking with his wives in the forest and playfully hit a big sal tree with his trunk. The blow shook the tree and beautiful flowers rained on Mahasubhadda whereas dry twigs, leaves and red ants fell on Chullasubhadda. Chullasubhadda felt very insulted and rejecting all the pleas of her husband, she left him. In due course Chullasubhadda died.
Once, the Bodhisattva was the wise leader of a herd of stags. He had a nephew named Rahula, who was put under his care to learn the tricks of survival in the forest. Rahula was very obedient and followed his uncle’s instructions. One day, while the other deer were grazing in the forest, Rahula felt thirsty and headed towards the lake which was a little distance away, unaware of a hunter’s trap laid on the way. “Help! Help!” shouted Rahula, as he got trapped, but there was no one in sight. Rahula remembered the instructions given by his uncle. “Lt me feign death, for a hunter never takes away a dead animal,” thought Rahula and lay still, holding his breath. The hunter returned and when he saw Rahula, he mistook him to be dead and went away without him.
Chudapanthaka, a young monk and his brother were the humble disciples of Sakyamuni Buddha. While his brother could easily memorise verses, Chudapanthaka could hardly remember his guru’s teachings. Seeing Chudapanthaka’s futile attempts at memorizing the verses, his brother once advised him to leave the monastery and return home. Chudapanthaka took his advice and left the monastery with a heavy heart.
On his way home, Chudapanthaka met the Buddha, who smiled at him and said, “Don’t worry. You don’t have to leave the monastery. Just stand outside the monastery with a rug and help the monks clean their feet.” Happy at the Buddha’s advice, Chudapanthaka went back to the monastery and did what the Buddha had told him. As time passed, Chudapanthaka realized that he was indeed doing charity and helping others. This made him very happy and at last, he too, became the Buddha’s disciple.