Buddhist Stories (29 to 35)

29. The Story of Mahabodhi

Mahabodhi, the wise scholar, was a reincarnation of the Bodhisattva. He became an advisor to the king, who treated him with great respect. Seeing the honour that Mahabodhi received from the king, the other ministers became jealous. So, one day, finding the king alone in the garden, the jealous ministers approached him and said, “Your highness, you’ve been following Mahabodhi’s advice and practicing the kind of life he recommends. But what can a Brahmin know about politics and kingly duties?” The foolish king was easily convinced of the minister’s words and started ignoring Mahabodhi’s advice from then on.

Being an enlightened being, Mahabodhi could read the king’s mind. When the king’s dog barked at him one day, the scholar said, “This dog is imitating the disrespect you and your people show towards me.” The king felt ashamed and sought Mahabodhi’s forgiveness.

30. The Begging Monks

A group of hermits who went around seeking aims were once subjected to greed, and thought, “Why do we need to work hard at all? We can just go around and ask for whatever we need, from the villagers. That way we would lead a comfortable life.” So the hermits started demanding, rather than humbly taking what they were offered. Annoyed the villagers started avoiding the hermits.

A few months later, their guru Kashyapa visited them and the villagers avoided him too, thinking he too would be as greedy as his disciples. Kashyapa was shocked at the villagers’ behavior. When he came to know the cause of this behavior, he went to the Buddha and sought his advice. Buddha summoned the greedy hermits and rebuked them saying, “Beggars cannot be choosers. You are supposed to seek alms and not beg to hoard wealth.” The hermits realized their mistake and sought his forgiveness.

31. The Story of Ruru

Long ago, the Bodhisattva was born as a golden deer named Ruru. No other deer was as lovely as him. His golden body shone like the sun; his lotus eyes sparkled like the stars. He lived in the dense jungles in close friendship with the other animals. The tiger, the lion, the snake, the monkeys, the elephants and all the birds loved Ruru dearly, for he was very kind-hearted and gentle.

One day, while roaming the forest, Ruru heard a heart-wrenching cry. He turned around and say a man drowning in the river nearby. Without wasting a second, Ruru dived into the river. He grabbed the man with his front legs and pulled him with all his might towards the bank. Emerging from the cold water, the shivering man folded his hands and said, “Thank you gentle creature. I am indebted to you forever!” “Sir, do not say such things, for it is difficult to believe what men promise!” replied Ruru and walked away. The happy man returned safely to his village, where he spoke about his encounter with the golden deer Ruru. When the news reached the king, he decided to hunt down the precious animal and keep it as a trophy in his palace. The man was summoned to the palace. “If you help me catch the golden deer I shall reward you handsomely!” the king said. Overwhelmed with greed, the man immediately promised to take the king to Ruru. They reached the forest with a group of soldiers and were surprised to see Ruru standing there as if waiting for them. “Welcome to my humble abode, Sir,” said Ruru warmly to the king. Both the man and the king were shocked. “How did Ruru know that we were coming to the forest?” the king asked the man. In a haste to get hold of his desired object, the king aimed his arrow at Ruru. But lo and behold, Ruru transformed into a handsome man right before their eyes! He had a bright halo behind his head and his eyes shone like the stars. “Who…who are you?” the king asked nervously. “I am the Almighty and I know everything that men think or do!” declared the man. He then turned to the man he had once rescued and said, “Remember, I had said that I don’t believe the promises men make, for more often than not, they turn out to be deceitful as yourself!” “I do!” stammered the man, who was almost on the verge of tears. “Please forgive me, O Lord!” he begged. “I was blinded by greed and had lost my good sense!” “Forgive me too,” cried the king. The next instant the Almighty once again became the golden deer Ruru. He blessed the two men and slowly went away. The king and the man returned with the precious realization that one should stay away from greed as it always leads one astray.

32. Remembering the Promise

The Bodhisattva was once born as Junha, the son of King Brahmadatta of Benaras. One day, while walking down a road in Takshila where he was sent to study, he accidentally ran into a poor Brahmin knocking him down and scattering all his alms. Even his begging bowl broke into pieces. Junha was very sorry for the damage and said to the Brahmin, “Sir, I am very sorry to have caused you so much loss. Right now, I don’t have any money to help you. But I promise to compensate you handsomely in future when I am the king. Please remind me once I ascend the throne.” In due course, Junha became the King of Benaras. One day, while on his daily round around the city, the Brahmin came in front of his chariot and held out his hand crying, “Long live the King!” and asked for the help that he had promised. At first Junha could not recognize him but when the Brahmin narrated the incident, he remembered instantly and showered him profusely with gifts.

33. The Value of Kindness

The golden deer named Rohanta was actually the Bodhisattva. He lived with his brother Chittamiga and sister Sutana near a lake. One day, Khema, the queen of Benaras, had a dream that a golden deer was preaching to her. Next morning, she begged her husband to bring her the deer. The king sent hunters all across his kingdom to search for the deer. One hunter who knew Rohanta’s whereabouts laid a trap by the side of the river where Rohanta and his fellow deer usually came to drink water. Rohanta stepped in the trap and got caught. He immediately shouted to warn the other deer so that they could run away and save themselves. Everyone fled except Chittamiga and Sutana. No amount of persuasion could keep them away from Rohanta. Their love for their brother touched the hunter’s heart and he released the deer. Rohanta then taught him the value of love and kindness. His teachings changed the hunter’s nature and he became an ascetic.

34. God’s Punishment

The Bodhisattva was once born as Nandiya, the monkey. His mother was old and blind. Nandiya was a dutiful son and lived with his mother in Banyan tree in a forest near the village. One day, a hunter entered the forest to hunt. He was a cruel man and his teacher had warned him to dire consequences if he did not mend his ways, but the man would not listen. In the forest, he spotted the helpless old mother monkey and wanted to kill her. Her son, seeing his evil intention, came in the way of the hunter. “Don’t kill my helpless mother. She can’t even move away to save herself. Spare her life and take mine instead,” he pleaded. “You fool! You are young. Why did you have to come in the way? Now both you and your mother will die,” Chuckled the hunter and killed them both. But on his way back home, he heard that lightning had hit his house and his whole family was killed. God had punished him for the sin he committed by killing the monkeys.

35. The Ugly King

The Bodhisattva came to the earth as a king in one life. He was an ugly man. However, he was a pious and able ruler. His subjects loved him and wanted him to get married. Though a little hesitant at first because of his ugly looks, the king finally agreed to get married. His wife was a beautiful and charming lady. The king always hid his face, fearing his wife might desert him if she saw how ugly he was. But soon his fears came true. One night, while he was sleeping, his wife entered his room with a candle and was terrified to see how ugly he was. She decided to leave him. The king was heartbroken because he loved his wife very much.

Seeing him in distress, Sakka visited the queen and enlightened her with his teachings. “Your husband had the power to destroy you and your father’s kingdom when you left him. But instead, he still cares about you. Look at the beauty of his soul and not just the face,” he said. The queen realized her mistake and returned to her husband. The king was united with his love and was happy.