Once there lived two very close friends – a lion and a tiger. They had been friends since they were cubs and did not know that they were different from each other. They lived happily in a forest, which was also inhabited by a wise and gentle hermit. One day, the tiger and the tiger and the lion entered into an argument as to whether the cold season started when the new moon became a full moon or when the full moon became a new moon. The petty argument turned into a quarrel with each trying to prove the other wrong. So the two friends went to the wise hermit to ask him who was right. The hermit listened to both of them and said, “The cold season begins when cold winds blow and this can happen during any phase of the moon. So, in a way, both of you are right. And in future, you should never quarrel, as unity brings happiness.” “Oh… We were so silly,” thought the two friends and decided never to argue over trivial matters.
In one of his earlier lives, the Bodhisattva was born as a forest lizard. A wicked ascetic built a hut of leaves in the forest where the lizard lived and started living there himself. One day, the lizard crawled into the hut of the ascetic and seeing him meditating, paid his respects to him. From then on he started visiting the ascetic regularly.
One day, the ascetic ate a tasty meal prepared with lizard meat in the house of one of the villagers and decided to kill the forest lizard for a meal for himself. The next day the ascetic made the necessary arrangements and as soon as the lizard came into his hut, threw his staff at him. The wise lizard turned aside swiftly and the staff bounced off the wall and hit hard on the ascetic’s head. “Ouch…” cried the ascetic in pain and fell down unconscious in a pool of blood.
The Bodhisattva was once born as the son of a learned Brahmin and was sent to a teacher for education as was the custom in those days. The test his students, the teacher lamented about his own poverty and asked his students to steal for him. He said, “The only way to become rich and get rid of poverty in a short time is to steal.” All the students, except the Bodhisattva, began planning how and what they were going to steel for their teacher. The Bodhisattva sat with downcast eyes feelings ashamed of what was going on. Seeing him, his teacher came up to him and accused him of being indifferent to his plight. At this, the Bodhisattva humbly replied that he sympathises with him and was willing to do anything to help. But his conscience forbade him to steal as it was morally wrong. The teacher was pleased with his reply and hugged him saying, “Well said, my son! You are indeed a virtuous soul and have passed my test.”
The Bodhisattva was once born as a young quail who lived with his family in a well protected grass nest. Every morning his parents would go out to fetch food leaving him behind with his brothers. They returned with eatables like figs, worms, grass seeds and the like. His brothers age whatever their parents brought but the Bodhisattva refused to eat anything except the grass seeds and figs, for he was averse to destroying any form of life, even worms. Consequently his brother developed strong wings and grew up to be healthy adult quails while the Bodhisattva remained frail and was too weak to fly. Yet he remained happy thinking he had not killed any creature to satisfy his hunger.
A long time back, The Bodhisattva was once born as a very pious boy named Saput. He was a very devoted son and took good care of his old parents. Now Saput’s parents had aged and all their teeth had fallen off. So it was very difficult for them to chew their food. Unable to have proper meals, his parents became weaker by the day. Saput felt very sorry for his parents and decided to do something for them. “All my parents can have is milk. I should do something to get the mountain deer’s milk,” thought Saput. So he decided to dress like a baby deer and putting on a deer’s head, he went to the mountain everyday so that the deer would mistake him to be one among them and allow him to mingle with them.
So, every morning Saput disguising himself like a baby deer, grazed with them. Thinking him to be a baby, the she-mountain deer allowed Saput to have her milk. Saput kept storing the milk in the little bottles that he hid under his garment. In the evening, he used to take the deer’s milk to his house and feed his parents. Soon his parents regained their health and Saput lived happily with them.
Once, the Buddha appeared in the dream of a little boy and took him along to show heaven and hell. They entered a hall with a big dining table with delicious dishes spread all over it. Then suddenly some sad-faced ghosts appeared and jostled with each other to eat their favourite dishes. They fumbled with the good with very long spoons and could not eat even a morsel. At last, they started fighting among themselves. Then the boy was taken to another hall. This dining hall was similar to the previous one, the only difference being that here some cheerful people were gathered at the table. The boy was just wondering how they would manage to eat with the long spoons, when he was surprised to see that each of them started feeding the person sitting next to him. They fed each other by turns and everyone tasted enough of every delightful dish. Buddha then turned to the boy and said, “Did you note how everything in life depends on the way you are and the way you behave? You your can make a place heaven or hell by your own actions.”
Many moons ago the Bodhisattva, the Enlightened being, was born as King Makhadeva. The king had already lived for eighty-four years and had many more years to live, when one day his royal barber spotted a grey strand of hair on his head. Realising that he was growing old, Makhadeva regretted all the years he had squandered on worldly pleasures. Thereafter, he stepped aside and anointed his eldest son the new king.
When his subjects heard about his decision, they rushed to him. “Oh dear King, why do you want to leave us?” they cried. The King smiled and holding up his grey strand of hair said, “My dear subjects, God has sent the message that death is nearing. All my life I thought about wealth and power but now I want to get rid of my ignorance by meditating.”
Once there lived a very rich man who did not know the value of money. He lived such a wasteful life that the drainage pipe coming out of his house used to be full of rice grains. At that time, the Bodhisattva who came as a monk in that life was living next to the rich man. He was shocked to see the grains of rice coming out of the rich man’s drain. Every day he made it a point to collect the rice from the pipe, wash and dry it nicely and store it for future use. In this way, he accumulated a large quantity of rice.
After some time, the rich man met with a mishap and lost all his wealth. He became so poor that he had to beg for food. One day, while begging, the rich man and his wife came to the monk’s house. He gave them the same rice, which he had accumulated for years and told them where he had found it. The rich man and his wife bowed their heads in shame for their wastefulness.