Category Archives: BUDDHIST TALES

Buddhist tales for children by Thalatha Wijerathne

The Noble White Elephant

The Noble White Elephant

A white elephant lived in a forest near Himalaya Mountain. The other elephants of the forest had made the white elephant their king. His mother was blind. So the white elephant sent her plenty of food through other elephants. But the mother didn’t get any, as the other elephants were eating all the food themselves.

The white elephant got to know what happened to the food he gathered for his mother. He decided not to live among those selfish elephants. He took his mother with him to the mountain and lived there far away from others of his clan. One day, a forest guard lost his path in the mountain and he was crying. The white elephant heard his cry and came near the guard and the guard got scared and ran away.

The white elephant called him, “I don’t harm you. Why are you afraid of me? What is your dilemma? Tell me, I will help you”.

Hearing the kind words of the white elephant, the guard stopped. “I don’t know the path to Varanasi. I have to go there. That’s why I was crying”. The white elephant took him on his back and left him near Varanasi. The guard thanked the elephant and continued his journey.

After some days the royal elephant of the king of Varanasi died due to an illness. The king needed an elephant in its place. He told that anybody who could give a clue of an elephant which fits to be the royal elephant would be given a reward. The guard heard that and he went to the king. “My Lord I have seen a white elephant and if an army is sent along with me, the elephant could be caught and brought to the palace”.

The king sent a troupe of soldiers with him to the forest. The white elephant was caught and brought to the king’s palace. The king was very happy to see the white elephant. The king ordered his servants to decorate the elephant with beautiful costumes and jewels. Meanwhile, the white elephant’s mother was crying because her son did not come back home with some food.

The king made the white elephant his royal elephant. He told his servants to give enough food to the elephant. But the elephant did not eat the food given to him. The servants informed the king about the white elephants behaviour. The king came near the elephant and said, “Why don’t you take some food. Don’t you know that I have made you the royal elephant. It’s a great honour for you”.

The white elephant replied, “Oh! My king, my mother is blind. She can’t find food on her own. Without me, she must be starving. Please take me to my mother”.

The king understood that he has done a great sin by capturing the white elephant. The white elephant was exhibiting noble behaviour by looking after his blind mother. The king ordered his servants to release the elephant to the forest where it used to live. The servants took the white elephant to the forest and released. The white elephant was happy and he quickly collected some food and went to his mother. The white elephant was our supreme Bodhisathwa.

A Pilgrimage to Dambadiva

Pilgrimage to India was always on top of my bucket list. Earlier, I have visited Trichy and Bangalore. But I always wanted to visit Buddhist religious places. Lord Buddha had mentioned that Buddhists should visit four places where special events of birth of Prince Siddharth, the enlightenment of the Bodhisathwa, preaching of first Dhamma sermon (Dam sak pawatum sutra) and Parinirvana of Lord Budhdha.

After my retirement from government service, I joined a tour group to go on pilgrimage. At the end of October, our group arrived at Katunayaka BMI airport to take a direct flight to Varanasi by a Mihin Lanka flight. After about three-hour flight, the plane touched the ground at Varanasi airport in Uttara Pradesh. Flight attendants bid us farewell saying “Ayubowan”. The sky was blue, climate was mild and a bus hired by tour guides was waiting outside to take us to the hotel.

Saranath

Isipathana

Isipathana

After refreshing, we continued our tour by bus to visit Saranath (Isipathana). The country side was like ours. First, we visited Sammuka sthupa built to mark the place where Lord Buddha met first disciples (Pas waga thawusan). Sammuka sthupa had been partly destroyed by Mogul kings many centuries ago from today. We visited ruins of Dhamma rajika sthupa in Isipathana, Migadaya. Pillars of Ashoka about 45ft in height with grand carvings can be seen in these ruins. In Migadaya we saw a herd of few deer. Ruins of Isipathanaramaya are scattered around.

We worshipped Mulagandha kuti temple built by King Dharmashoka. Now it consists of only a stone seat and four stone pillars. New Mulagandha kuti temple built by Rev. Anagarika Dhammapala, (whose effort helped to preserve Buddagaya temple) was adjacent to the old temple.

In the evening, we went to Mahabodhi temple to participate in chanting of Dam Sak Pawathum Sutra by Sri Lankan Bhikkus. All devotees were chanting and the feeling of serenity was in every mind and every face. Outside the temple, we could see statues of Pas waga thapaswin. The garden had some flowers and a little pond. We returned to hotel at night as the next day we had to go to Buddhagaya in Gaya district in Bihar Pradesh.

Buddhagaya (Bodh Gaya)

Bodh Gaya

Bodh Gaya

Next day early morning we got in to our bus. Our guide asked us to observe ‘pan sil’ and he narrated Dhamma sutra. This was the first thing of the daily routine through-out the tour. We went to Buddhagaya and stayed at a hotel. In the evening, we were shopping but could not find quality goods as it was a small town in an underprivileged area. At dawn, milk rice was prepared by Sri Lankan cooks in our group, with the help of devotees to offer at Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya.

In the morning, we dressed in white ‘sil’ clothes and went in a procession to Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi temple carrying milk rice pots and lotus flowers. We offered these at the statue of Lord Buddha inside the temple. This majestic temple situated by the bank of river Neranjana, built in classical style of Indian temple architecture is about 170 ft high. The Buddha statue on Wajrasanaya is undoubtedly charismatic, filling our minds with devotion.

Behind the temple, there is sacred Sri Maha Bodhi tree surrounded by a golden fence. We offered flowers at the ‘mal asana’ there. We observed ‘Atasil’ sitting under the cool shade of Sri Maha Bodhi tree. As green leaves of Bodhi were swaying in the gentle breeze, the tranquillity of the place soothed our minds.

We listened to a Dhamma deshana and meditated for a while. Tibet monks were there chanting and worshipping. We went around the temple and Sri Maha Bodhiya while chanting. Many devotees from Buddhist countries were there. This temple is a must visit for all the Buddhists.

At noon, we attended alms giving at Maha Bodhi temple. We visited places of ‘sath sathi’ located around there. At east-south side, is a pond with a majestic statue of Lord Buddha wrapped by a replica of Muchalindha naga raja, a wonderful sight. Moreover, pillar of Ashoka pillar, marking the place of Ajapal nuga tree can be seen. Next day we went about 15 km by jeeps to Senani grama, where Lady Sujatha offered milk rice and Sottiya brahmana offered grass to Bodhisathva near Neranjana river.

Afterwards we went to Durgeswari hill where Bodhisathva spent an ascetic life by deprivation of worldly goods, including food, practising self-mortification for 6 years (dushkara kriya). We had to walk along a steep narrow road winding through the hill. My companion – Chandra sought the help of palanquin bearers to climb. There is a small cave on top, with a mystic appearance and surrounded by lush greenery. Inside the cave is a statue of Siduhath Bodhisathva, showing a lean body with ribs visible under skin. It was a sad sight. We felt exhausted, but got refreshed by a herbal drink given by monks of Tibet temple near that cave.

Rajagaha Nagar

Next day, we travelled to Rajagaha nagar about 200 km away by bus. There we saw marks of wheels of a cart on a flat stone and ruins of prison of King Bimbisara. To visit Gijja kuta hill we had to climb steps leading up, along ‘Bimbisara’ road. We saw the rock pushed by Devadatta thero, to hurt Lord Bhudda and the large rock that blocked its path. On the top of the hill, situated the ruins of the chamber of Lord Bhudda. I had an amazing view from the hill top as I could see villages and woods below, a scene with natural beauty. There, devotees can take a ride by cable cars to visit Sama sthupa on a nearby hill.

Saptha parni cave

Saptha parni cave

In Rajagaha nagar we visited Walasangata sthupa that had protected Buddha’s relics and Saptha parni cave, the site where the very first Dhamma sangayana was held. Following day, we had to travel about 500 km to reach Kusinara nagar. Our bus travelled along the 7km long Patna bridge over Ganga river.

Nalanda mahavihara

Nalanda mahavihara

On the way, we visited charred ruins of Nalandawa, the site of the first ever Buddhist university, destroyed by Muslim kings killing about 10,000 monks and lay students. The guide described the tragedy of Nalandawa so vividly, that we were very sad to witness the end of a great institution.

As the bus went through green woods, there were lesser houses, lesser people, on the road. The pilgrims in the bus shared sweets, chattering. I was lucky to have made such great new friends during the journey who are in touch with me even at present.

Kushinagar (Kusinara)

Kusinara temple

Kusinara temple

At Kushinagar we visited Parinirwana temple. Inside there is a statue of Lord Buddha in reclining position, with a calm face and swollen ‘Siri pathul’ (sacred feet). I worshipped the statue depicting ‘parinirvana manhakaya’ with tears in my eyes. Near that temple, we saw ruins of Parinirvana sthupa, Adahana stupha and the pond from which the Lord Buddha had his last sip of water.

Lumbini in Nepal

Lumbini garden

Lumbini garden

Our next destination was India – Nepal border, and visa were issued at the border. We crossed the border to visit Lumbini garden, place of birth of Prince Siddhartha. We rode to the Lumbini garden by bicycle-rickshows, and enjoyed the ride. Inside the garden, there is a temple and we entered the temple with devotion. There we saw a wooden carving depicting the birth of Prince Siddhartha. In this garden, archaeologists have found roots of ancient sal trees (Shorea robusta) about 2600 years old. Outside the we saw an Ashoka pillar and the pond where Queen Maha Maya had a bath and a Bodhi tree with flags.

We stayed at a hotel and the Nepal staff was friendly. They helped us carry our bags.

Kapilawasthu

Jethawanaramaya

Jethawanaramaya

Next morning, we left Nepal and returned to India. After about 90 km drive, we reached Kapilawasthu pura. We saw ruins of Nigrodharamaya, Palace of King Suddhdhodana and three palaces of Prince Siduhath- Ramya, Suramya, Subha, showing the grandeur of bygone era. Then we travelled to Sravasthi pura (Savath nuwara) 57km away, where Jethawanaramaya is located. On our way, we visited the palace of Count Anepindu and Angulimala sthupa.

Jethawanaramaya, the abode of Lord Buddha for nineteen years, built by Count Anepindu, is located inside a garden blessed with a calm and lovely scenery. We were happy to finally witness the site mentioned in many sutra. We could see ruins of meeting places, chamber of Lord Budhdha, chambers of Sariuth thero, Mugalan thero and Ananda thero. A well and a pond used by monks and Ananda bodhiya is there. This place is maintained by Archaeological department of India.

We observed ata-sil sitting under the shade of Ananda Bodhi tree. We attended some alms giving held at Srilankaramaya in front of Jethawanaramaya.

When walking along the paths around Jethawanaramaya, I was happy to think that I was walking on the soil touched by the sacred feet of Lord Buddha. I think that feeling must be what people refer as ‘Buddhalambana prithiya’.

When twilight came, offering of rose flowers, lightning of 7000 wax lamps and ‘Sath budu pooja’ were held with chanting of gatha. It was a grand sight as whole area was illuminated. The fragrance of flowers mixed with the scent of joss sticks was spread around by the cool breeze.

Next day, we visited a Sri Lankan temple at Sankassa nuwara, and then Vishala nuwara where ruin of sthupa built by Lichchavi clan of kings and an Ashoka pillar are present.

On our returning journey, we had to travel to Delhi to board our flight to Sri Lanka. We went across the beautiful Lucknow city famous for its music academy, to reach Delhi. There we had a glimpse of the Red fort, India Gate and the majestic Taj Mahal located near the border of Yamuna river.

After bidding farewell to the driver and helper of the bus we entered Delhi airport. We boarded plane for our return journey and I was delighted and feeling blessed to have visited and worshipped those sacred places.

The Golden Deer

The_Golden_Deer

Once upon a time, there was a gardener looking after the palace garden in Varanasi. While he was working in the garden a golden deer came in to the garden from the nearby forest. But as soon as it saw the gardener, it ran away. This happened for many days.

After sometime, the deer had understood that the gardener wouldn’t harm itself. Then the deer used to enter the palace garden and stay there for some time. The golden deer was beautiful. One day the gardener went to the palace to give flowers and fruits to the king’s servants.

Gardener, are you looking after my garden well? How is it now looking?”, The king asked.

My lord, there is nothing of greater importance. But often a golden deer comes there and wanders inside the garden.” The gardener said.

Can you bring that deer to the palace?

Yes, of course. Please give me a little honey. I will lure and trap the deer. Let me try my best.

The king commanded royal servants to give him a pot full of honey. The gardener took it and poured honey over the grass. The deer came as usual. He found the grass dipped in honey. The deer sat there eating grass. The next day, the gardener slowly poured honey over the grass along the path which ran towards the royal palace.

The deer walked along the path towards the palace. The gardener brought it to the palace and kept it in a shed. People circled the golden deer and looked at it with amazement. They have never seen a golden deer before, it was a rare sight. The deer realised it has come to a different place and that it had been trapped, and it got scared. By that time, the gardener had chained the deer to a tree, so it could not escape. The royal servants informed the king about the golden deer and the king visited it.

The king said, “We all know that deer are very cautious and fast animals by their nature. They never come to where humans live. But this one has come here seeking sweet grass, he got trapped because of his greed. Don’t you think that the human behaviour is the same? Greedy men follow dangerous paths seeking money, fame and lust. This golden deer has taught us a lesson. This beautiful creature belongs in his home-forest. Therefore I will release him.

Then, the king released the deer and it hurried all the way to the forest and never returned to the palace garden again. The wise king was our supreme Bodhisathwa.

What happens when the Sky falls-down?

What Happens when the Sky Falls

One day a hare was asleep under a shady tree in a forest. When he woke up a strange thought emerged in his mind. He was thinking “What will happen if the sky falls down?”. At that exact moment, a fruit fell off from a near by tree and fell on a leaf of a Palmyra tree. Then it fell on to the ground making a sound “dub, dub.” The hare thought it was the sound of sky falling down.

“Oh, the sky is falling down! Let’s rush to a safe place”, screamed  the hare and started running. On the way he met another hare. The latter asked, “My dear friend, why are you running? Any problem?”

“Don‟t waste time to ask questions. First run and save your life!.”

“I will, can you at least tell me what has happened?”

The first hare shouted while running. “Don’t you know yet? The sky is falling down. I heard the noise. Let’s run away!”

Both hares began to run. All the other hares in forest who saw them running also followed them. The herd of the deer also heard the news of sky falling. The herd also started running away. Along with them bears, elephants, monkeys and many other animals started running. After a while on the way all these animals met the lion, the king of the forest.

The lion asked curiously, “What’s wrong with all of you? Why are you running?”.

“Oh! Dear king! Didn’t anybody alert you? The sky is falling down. We all are running. In search of a safer place.” the bear said.

The lion laughed. He said it was never possible and roared. “Who first saw the sky falling down?”

All the other animals pointed each other. Everyone except the hare who started it all said they haven’t seen anything unusual. Then it was the turn of the hare.

The lion asked, “Ah! Hare, did you see the sky falling?”

“Yes sir, I heard it.”

“Then show me that place”, the lion ordered.

The hare guided the lion and other animals to the place where he was sleeping. The lion examined the surrounding of the place. There was a fruit on the ground under the Palmyra tree. The lion was able to understood that the hare had mistaken the sound of that fruit falling down to be the sound of a disaster, the sound of sky falling down.

The lion pointed to the fruit and explained everyone, “None of you have worried to think over this matter, you kept running after each other. If you ever blindly follow others, you will end up in trouble with a big price to pay for not thinking wisely. The hare must have started running after hearing the sound of this fruit falling down”.

The hare agreed, “I believe the king is right. Just before I heard the sound, I was wondering what could happen if the sky would ever to fall on Earth.” The lion advised all the animals to go back to their places. The intelligent lion, the king of the forest, was none other than our supreme Bodhisathwa.

The Drummer

One day, a drummer went to a festival in Varanasi with his son. They performed well and entertained the people gathered at the festival. People loved their performance and provided them with money, food and clothes. They started their journey back home and a jungle was on their way. When they were walking through the jungle the son started beating the drum as he was quite happy about their success.

The Drummer

“Son, this jungle is known for thieves. Do not play the drum. If the thieves hear this sound, they might catch us!”, the farther said. But the son did not keep quiet.

“Son, listen to me. Don’t risk our lives. You can play the drum to your heart’s content when we reach home.”, the farther advised his son once more.

“Father, I am not going to stop playing the drum. Just see, if there are any thieves they will run away fearing the drum’s sound.”

Then he played the drum louder. Guess what, there was a gang of thieves in the jungle as the father said. The leader of that gang heard the sound of the drum.

“Sounds like some people from the city are here in the jungle! They must be having money, food and clothes”, the leader said.

“Shall we go and fight them?” one of the thieves proposed. All of them encircled the drummer and his son. They threatened the two drummers, grabbed all their belongings and chased them away.

“Son, didn’t I tell you to stop making that sound? You didn’t listen to me. You are a skillful drummer but that should be made use of only when it is required and at the appropriate time”, the farther who was glad that their lives were saved, advised his son in a deep voice.

“Father, forgive me. Today I learnt a lesson. I will not behave irresponsibly in the future”, the son promised in a regretting voice. Both of them returned home with empty hands.

The Hunter and the Deer

the_hunter_and_the_deer

Once upon a time there lived a deer in a forest bordering a village. One day his sister visited him with her son, a little deer.

“Brother, please teach my son the tricks we do. Then he will be able to avoid danger in the jungle” She said.

“Sister, I am happy to teach him. Let me start from tomorrow.” the deer replied.

Next day the little deer went to his uncle’s den to learn survival skills. Two months passed. He learnt and practised tricks his uncle taught him. One day the little deer was roaming in the forest with his friends, looking for grass as they were hungry. Then a hunter from the village came and threw a net over the little deer. The friends were frightened and they ran away and informed his mother.

The mother deer rushed to her brother and said, “Brother, my son is caught in a hunter’s net. How can he escape? Please help him”.

“Sister, be patient. He will return soon”.

The little deer remembered the tricks he learned from his uncle and decided to try one of them. He fell on the ground as if he was dead. The hunter assumed that the deer is dead. Then he removed the net and went to find a wooden pole so that he can tie the deer and carry easily. As the hunter walked away the little deer ran as fast as an arrow and joined his mother. When the hunter returned, he noticed that the little deer was not there. The hunter was deceived.

The little deer’s uncle praised him and his mother was very happy for him. The uncle in this story was none other than our supreme Bodhisathwa.

The Intelligent Student

Long time ago, there was a centre of learning in Varanasi. Disapamock was the teacher and there were many students. He had only one daughter who was very beautiful. Disapamock decided to arrange her marriage. He wanted to prefer an intelligent student among his pupils as his son in law. What is the best way to judge the intelligence of the students? Disapamock made a plan.

the-intelligent-student

One day Disapamock summoned all of his students. “My dear students, I wish to arrange the marriage of my daughter. But I don’t have enough money to get her special costumes and jewelleries. Can anyone help me?” The teacher asked.

He continued, “You should steal and bring them and nobody should see you stealing”. The students obeyed to the words of their teacher. Each one of them started to bring jewelleries and hand-over them to Disapamock. They were all stolen goods. Disapamock decided to examine them and return the articles to their owners.

Only one student did not bring any valuables. He was seen in a sad mood. Disapamock asked, “Why didn’t you steal anything?”

“Sir, I could have done it. But you said that nobody should see it. It was not possible. Nobody else might see. But I would definitely see what I do. There is nothing greater than one’s own self-consciousness.” The student replied.

“Good, I was in search of someone as intelligent as you. I don’t need any expensive jewelleries. I just made a trick to find out the most intelligent and honest person. Stealing for a good cause is also wrong.” Disapamock appreciated him.

Then, Disapamock ordered his pupils to return the stolen goods to the respective owners. He gave his daughter in marriage to the good student. Actually, the honest student in this story was none other than our supreme Bodhisathwa.