Symbols of the world's religions



A Tale Told By The Buddha

In the cool of the evening the greatest man of his time would sit and discuss with his companions the events of the day. This would often be the occasion for him to tell a story about his adventures in other lifetimes. For all creatures Gotama the Buddha had come: to the deer he had been the most magnificent stag in the forest; to the elephants he had come rainbow-tusked and white, showing them perfect compassion; to the monkeys he had been the most heroic one of their number, giving his life to rescue them from danger.

One evening Gotama and his companions talked about an extraordinary event that had occurred that day. An enemy of Gotama had given liquor to a bull elephant and released the drunken and enraged animal into the Buddha's path. The disciple Ananda threw himself between the elephant and Gotama, only to be miraculously removed by the Buddha at the last moment. "You are a brute elephant, but I am the Buddha elephant!" declared Gotama to the maddened animal. Hearing this the elephant meekly bowed at the feet of the Buddha.

Retold and Illustrated by Judith Ernst
1995 © Parvardigar Press


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