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Jataka Tales

Jataka TalesImage Credit-madrascourier.com

The Jataka tales were written between 300 BC to 400 AD and each story has a moral to understand and implement in our day today life. Jataka Tales are some of the examples of Buddhists literature which was written in Pali Language.. These brilliant fables are intended to teach mankind the values of sacrifice, honesty, mortality and other important values.  It tells us the previous reincarnation of Gautam Buddha both in human and animal form


It was originally written in the Pali language and later translated to many other languages. The Ajanta caves in Maharashtra portrays Jataka tales in a narrative way wherein people while walking around the caves can read these stories. Some of the collections of Jataka Tales are provided here. Enjoy reading the stories.

The Jataka tales are an integral part of Buddhist literature. Here are some of the popular stories or tales from the Jataka collection .Read and understand the moral of each one the tales.

Some of the Important Jataka Tales Collection 

Jackal who saved the lionImage credit-Youtube.com

The Jackal who saved the lion.

 Once upon a time a Lion in the forest had gone to drink water in the stream as he was feeling very thirsty. Poor Lion got his leg struck in the muddy sand. How much he tried but the Lion could not take out his feet from the damp mushy mud. Days passed and the poor Lion was starving without food. One fine day a jackal came to the stream to drink water. He saw the Lion suffering and helped him to come out. Read further to know the moral of the story and also how Jackal helped Lion.

Banyan Deer:

It is a story of two Deer . One was the beautiful golden Deer who was called the King Banyan Deer and  the other was the King Branch Deer. Both had a herd of five hundred Deer. The story revolves around the  Banyan Deer  who surrenders himself for execution to save a mother Deer to be killed by the king. His compassion pleases the king who not only lets the banyan deer go but also promises not to kill any Deer. 

The cunning wolfImage credit- sundaydharmaclass.blogspot.com

Cunning wolf

Once upon a time people from a small village went to the forest for a holiday. They took a full basket of fruits and other eatables to have in the forest. By noon they had finished eating all the eatables not keeping anything for dinner. So they decided to get some fresh meat for dinner. One person who went in search of meat tried playing some tricks on the animals to kill it but could not do it. He came back empty handed. Keep reading this interesting story and also learn the moral of the story.

The White Elephant:

Once upon a time there lived a herd of elephants at the bottom of the Himalayas. Their leader was a beautiful White elephant who was an extremely kind hearted animal. He was extremely caring for his blind old mother.  One day the white elephant decided to leave the herd and stay peacefully with his family far away from the herd. Keep reading to know what happens further.


The hungry tigress and Bodhisattva

In the story of Hungry Tigress the humble Brahmin Bodhisattva offers to sacrifice his life for a starving tigress and its cubs. He saw a tiger which was looking very weak and hungry. It was so hungry that the mother tiger was about to eat its own cubs. On seeing this Bodhisattva felt very bad and offered himself to the tigress. The tigress ate him and also offered food for his cubs.


Golden Swan

In a small village there lived a brahmin with his family. He had three beautiful daughters. The Brahmin was working very hard to keep his family happy and satisfying. One day suddenly Brahmin died and his wife and children were heartbroken. His wife did not know how to take care of his family. Suddenly with the help of a swan they became rich. The wife became greedy and because of her greed she hurt the swan and so the swan flew away by saying greed does not pay you anything. A very beautiful Jataka story with good morals and a must read for all age groups.


The Elephant and Dog:

Once upon  a time there was a royal elephant which lived along with the king in his palace. He was very well taken care of in the palace as he was very dear to the king. Next to the elephant’s shed there lived a dog who was very weak and skinny. The dog was very attracted towards the sweet rice and the royal food that was served to the elephant everyday.  Read more to understand how Dog and Elephant became close friends and enjoyed their company.


The Deceitful bird:

Once upon a time there lived a flock of birds at the foot of the Himalayas. One day the king of the birds asked the other  birds to go in search of grains for food. As the birds went in search of the grain one bird who was lucky saw many grains having fallen on the ground. The bird became selfish and decided not to tell anyone. Everyday he would go to that place and would eat the grains. One fine day the bird was crushed under the cart. Read more to know how the bird died and also to understand the moral of the story.


The clever son:

It is a story about a son by name Ravi who tried to bury his old father when he was still alive. Ravi’s son Vivek helps him to understand his mistake and take his grandfather home again. A story with a good moral and a must read for all age groups


The wise goat and the wolf

It is a Jataka story of how a goat saved its life from the wolves. The wolves were living next to the cave where goats were living.  The wolves had killed all her friends one by one as they liked goat meat very much. The story shows how to behave intelligently during a crisis and save ourselves.  It is a nice short Jataka story to read and enjoy. 


Noble Monkey:

Deep in the forest there lived a group of monkeys. The king of the Monkeys was very wise and strong and took good care of these monkeys. On the bank of the river there was  a huge mango tree. The mangoes were very sweet and juicy. So the Monkey king ordered all his subjects to take good care of this tree because if any mango falls in the river then humans will come in search of this mango tree and they will also kill us. This fear became the reality and the monkey king acted wisely and saved both mango trees and monkeys from human intervention. Read to know more how wisely the monkey king behaved.



Pennywise Monkey:

There was a king from a very rich country. The king was never satisfied with what he had hence he always travelled to conquer more and expand his kingdom. One day the king and his soldiers set out on a  mission and travelled the entire forest. They got exhausted by evening and hence took some rest near the lake. Even the horses were very tired and even they took some rest.

The horses were fed with peas. There was a monkey sitting on the top of the tree and was watching the horses being fed with peas. As soon as he saw peas the monkey came down from the tree and quickly filled his mouth and hands with peas. As the monkey sat on the tree to eat the peas, one of the pea fell from his hand to the ground.

To take one pea the monkey unknowingly dropped all the peas from its hand to the ground. Unluckily he could not find any pea and went back to the tree with a sad face. The king who was watching said that it is a stupid monkey because to gain one pea he lost all the peas.


Power of rumour:

This is a good Jataka story that happened in the forest. Once upon a time a hare was resting on the tree in a forest. He had an intuition of doom and thought what would happen if the earth would break. As he was thinking all of a sudden he heard a loud noise, he jumped from the tree and ran out thinking that earth will break. He started shouting that the earth is breaking. All the animals started running to save their lives. A lion who was observing all these asked the animals to stop and asked them the reason for running. Read to understand what happened next.


The Hawk and their friendsImage credit- theconversation.com

Hawk and their friends:

Once upon a time there lived a family of hawks near the lake in the forest. Across the shore of the lake there lived a lion, Kingfisher and a Turtle. One day mama Hawk asked Papa Hawk to make friends with animals which are staying nearby. Hence Papa hawk went to make friends with the lion, turtle and Kingfisher. As days passed the family of hawks became good friends with all the three. One days hunters tried to kill the hawks. Read further to know how their friends kingfisher, turtle and lion saved the lives of the Hawks family


Merchant of Seri:

It is a story of two merchants who lived in a small village who sold brass and tin ware. They travelled from one place to another to sell their products. One merchant was honest while the other was greedy. While travelling they met an old lady who has a plate made of gold. Both the merchants met the old lady and made an offer to the plate. Whose offer did the old lady accept? Read further this interesting story.


There are many more such interesting Jataka stories which one can read and enjoy. Every story has a moral in it. We have just shared some 15 stories here. Click on the links to read the story in depth and also read the moral of the story.

You can also share other Jataka Tales with us by clicking the link here.


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