Buddhist Reincarnation Stories (59 to 66)

59. The Mischievous Monkey

At another time, The Bodhisattva came to the earth as a hermit. He lived in a leaf hut on a mountain and went every day to the village to seek alms. A monkey would enter the hermit’s hut when he would be away and eat all the food and make all sorts of mischief. One day, the hermit went out as usual to seek alms, but did not return for many days. The monkey came to the hermit’s hut every day but found nothing to eat. So he went to the village to look for the hermit.

The villagers had just performed puja and were about to offer the prasad to the hermit. “Let me also pretend to be holy and trick these villagers into giving me some food,” the monkey thought. He went up to the hermit and sat near him, joining his forelegs as if he were praying. The villagers were pleased to see such devotion in a monkey and praised him highly. But the hermit recognized the mischievous monkey and told the villagers how the monkey troubled him every day. The angry villagers beat up the monkey and chased him away.

60. True Love

The Bodhisattva came back once as the God of Birds, Garuda. He changed his form to a handsome young man and often played dice with the king of Benaras who had a beautiful queen called Sussondi. Once, while playing dice, Garuda saw Sussondi and fell for her beauty. “I need to have this beautiful lady as my wife,” thought Garuda and decided to marry her. With his supernatural powers, Garuda raised a storm in the city and covered it with dark clouds. Under the cover of darkness, he carried Sussondi with him. The king was full of grief for his queen and called his most trusted minister Sagga, unaware that his friend Garuda had carried away his wife. “O, wise friend. Please help me find my beloved queen. Search in every nook and corner and bring her back to me,” the king requested Sagga. So Sagga along with a few soldiers went looking for the queen.

Meanwhile, Garuda kept coming to play dice with the king, so he was never suspected. Sailing for days together, Sagga at last came to the island where Garuda had kept Sussondi. Garuda was away playing dice and Sagga took advantage of his absence. He secretly climbed into the queen’s chamber and called out, “Your Highness, the king is heartbroken without you. His majesty has sent me to take you back to him safely.” He then carried back the queen to the king. The king embraced his queen with tears of joy and seeing their love, Garuda realized his mistake.

61. Two Ascetics

The Bodhisattva was once born as the king of Gandhara. One day, he saw the lunar eclipse and realized the futility of his kingly life. So he became an ascetic and went to live in the forest. The king of Videha, who was his friend, followed him. The two ascetics stayed together in the forest and went to the village to seek alms daily. One day, one of the ascetics hid some salt for use on rainy days without his friend’s knowledge. When the other ascetic found the salt, he was very displeased with his friend for being selfish and greedy. The ascetic realized his mistake and sought his friend’s forgiveness saying, “I am indeed guilty of being attached to worldly things, my friend. Please forgive me for being selfish.” So the two again became friends and led a life of penance.

62. The Jealous King

Long, long ago, the Bodhisattva came to live on the earth as a member of the royal family of Benaras. He was a beautiful baby and was adored by all. The queen loved her seven-month-old son immensely and spent the entire day playing with him and cuddling him. Day by day, the queen became more and more attached to her baby and had little time for her husband, the king. One day, while the queen was playing with her son, the king entered her room. The queen, busy with her baby, did not notice the king. “How dare you ignore me? I’m the lord of mighty empire,” the king shouted in anger. He summoned the royal executioner and asked him to kill the baby. The queen pleaded for mercy but to no avail. Blinded with jealousy, the king refused to listen to his queen. But, seeing the sweet boy the royal executioner was overcome with love and instead of killing him, left him in a hermitage in the forest. The baby grew up to be a saintly scholar.

63. Arrogance Can Kill

Once, the Bodhisattva was born in a family of merchants. One day in the marketplace he saw an arrogant ascetic clad in a leather garment. The man put up the bearing of a saint and asked every living creature to bow to him and show respect. After a while the Bodhisattva noticed that a ram was lowering his head in front of the ascetic. The ascetic took it to be an expression of his respect for him. But the Bodhisattva knew that the ram was getting ready to attack, as ascetic was wearing a leather garment, which the ram apparently did not like.

The Bodhisattva, who was witnessing the whole scene from a distance, tried to warn him. But before the ascetic could hear anything, the ram knocked him down. He lay groaning in pain and before long, breathed his last.

64. A Small Portion of Gruel

The Bodhisattva, in one of his births, was born as the king of Kosala. He was a benevolent king and his reign was marked by peace and prosperity. One night he dreamt of his previous life and was deeply moved by it. One the following day, the king told his court that it was only a small portion of gruel that was actually responsible for all the prosperity in the kingdom. When everyone urged him to tell them why he said so, the king narrated all that he had dreamt about his past life. In his previous birth the king had been a poor servant who could hardly make both ends meet every day. But one day, when he met a group of monks who had been starving for days, he forgot all about his own hunger and gave them his day’s meal which was just a small portion of gruel. The Gods were amazed to see this charity and they blessed the servant who was reborn as the great king of Kosala. The people of Kosala were touched to hear this story and everyone was inspired to be charitable in their own ways.

65. Pride Comes Before Fall

Once upon a time there lived a dwarf who was learned, wise and skilled in archery. Little did anyone know that he was actually the Bodhisattva. He was called Little Archer. Knowing well that his appearance would hinder him from getting a job with the king, Little Archer made a pact with a strongly built man called Fear Maker to seek employment as the king’s archer while he would carry out the real work. They would then divide the pay equally among themselves. Things worked out as Little Archer had planned and Fear Maker became the king’s chief archer. With Little Archer’s advice, Fear Maker managed to kill a man-eating beast and a ravaging bull for the king. This earned him a lot of praise. But success made Fear Maker proud and he no longer heeded Little Archer or his advice.

One day Fear Maker was asked to fight a large enemy army and he could not do it. He had to seek Little Archer’s help who defeated the enemy easily and was suitably rewarded by the king. Fear Maker realized his mistake and went back to his village.

66. The Greedy Ascetic

A wicked ascetic lived as a guest in the house of rich man. One day the rich man needed to hide a box of gold coins. Thinking that he was a holy man who had renounced all worldly pleasures, the rich man buried the gold coins in the ascetic’s room. But when the rich man left, the wicked ascetic dug up the gold coins and hid them in a bundle of straw. Next day, on the pretext of taking a pilgrimage, the ascetic took the rich man’s leave and left his house with the bundle of straw, saying that he would use it as bedding. After removing the coins, the ascetic returned and handed the bundle to the rich man saying that he would not carry each straw with him that belonged to others. The Bodhisattva, who was reborn as a merchant, saw this and sensing some foul play, asked the rich man to check if his gold coins were safe. Finding the gold coins missing, he declared the ascetic a cheat and got him imprisoned.