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Story of Ruru Deer
The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C. B. Varma
|001 - The Story of Ruru Deer|
upon a time there lived a deer in a dense forest. He was called Ruru. He
had a golden body resplendent with the spots of varied hues like that of
the rubies, sapphires and emeralds. His hair was extremely soft and silky.
His eyes were sky-blue. His hooves and horns looked like the chiselled
precious stones. So, when he darted in the forest every one was charmed.
All the more, he was endowed with wisdom; and evinced the power to
converse in the human language owing to the memory of his past existences.
Further, knowing the cruel and ugly mentality of the human beings, which
is prone to all kinds of evil deeds, he avoided any encounter with them.
Yet, he was compassionate to all alike.
Once, rambling in a thick forest
he heard a heart-rending cry. Curiously, when he looked at the direction
he saw a man being carried away by a gushing stream. The sight of the man
in his utter distress filled his heart with compassion. In order to rescue
him, he jumped into the water and asked the man to cling fast to him. The
man instead of clinging to him climbed on his delicate back in his panic.
Nonetheless, the deer bore the heavy load of the man and brought him
safely on the river-bank. He then comforted the shivering man with his
warm caresses until he regained consciousness. When the man was back to
his senses Ruru dismissed him by saying, “You may now go back to your
own fellow beings!”
The man thanked him and expressed
his gratitude by saying,
The deer then said,
Who surpasses beauty
The man promised to keep his pledge;
and protect the life of his benefactor before he departed.
One day, the queen of that country
saw a dream where a golden deer appeared standing on a throne and
preaching dhamma in an articulate human voice. Bewitched by the elegant sight
of the deer, she requested the king to catch the deer for her. The king,
who trusted in the veracity of her dreams acted according to her wish by
the royal proclamation of the reward of a rich village and ten lovely
women for one who would help find out the deer.
The man, who was once rescued by the deer, when heard of the rich
rewards, went to the king and divulged the secret abode of Ruru. All the
more, he took the king and his men to the thicket, where the deer dwelt.
But surprisingly, when he raised his hand to show the deer his hand fell
off like a chopped limb.
In the meanwhile, the king had
seen the deer and his eyes were wide-open at the wonderful sight of the
Now, when the deer noticed the
king’s arrow pointing at him; and the people surrounding him from all
directions and there was no place to escape, he spoke to the king in an
articulate human voice, ‘Sir! Pray first satisfy my curiosity before you
kill me. Can you tell me, how did you reach here because I never tread the
path of a man”. The king, charmed by his gaiety pointed the man by
turning the arrow towards him in reply. The deer then recited,
is to lift a log of wood out of water
to save an ungrateful one !.
This utterance of the deer aroused
the curiosity of the king, who in turn asked the deer to explain the
context. The deer then narrated the story of the man, who he had rescued.
The king was moved by the story and commended his compassion and bravery;
but at the same time was terribly furious at the ungrateful man. So, to
punish the man when he pulled the string of the bow to shoot him, Ruru
requested him to forgive the man. So, the king forgave the man but invited
the deer to visit his kingdom as a royal guest. Ruru accepted the
invitation; and on the king’s request mounted the royal carriage to
proceed to the kingdom in a pompous procession. Reaching the king’s
court, he perched the throne and delivered several discourses to the king,
queen, princes and the courtiers for some days. He then returned to his
abode for good.
[The cry of the jackals and of birds is understood
The word of men, O king! Is far harder than these].
Ruru deer being escorted to the royal palace in procession, Ajanta
(See Ruru-Migaraja-Jataka No.482; Ruru- Jataka Jatakamala No.26)
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