Jataka Tales

Jataka Tales originate in India and concern themselves with the Buddha's previous animal reincarnations.

The roots of some of these tales are very ancient and they can be dated back at least 1500 years.

Our collection is taken from two books, 'Jataka Tales' and 'More Jataka Tales' both by Ellen C. Babbitt.

If you use Facebook or Google+ & enjoyed this section, please tell your friends and let us know to find more for you!
Thumbnail For The Banyan Deer
There was a deer, the color of gold who was king of the Banyan deer. Living in the forest was another herd, called the Monkey Deer, who also had a king.
Thumbnail For Beauty And Brownie
Beauty and Brownie were called by their father, who instructed them each to leave taking a herd with them, as it was dangerous for deer near harvest time.
Thumbnail For The Brave Little Bowman
There was a little man with a crooked back, called the wise little bowman. He was very skillful with a bow and arrow and decided to join the king's army.
Thumbnail For The Crab And The Crane
During a drought a crane offered to move a pond full of fish somewhere else with more water. He was lying and he ate them all, then tried to fool a crab.
Thumbnail For The Cunning Wolf
People from town went on a holiday into the woods. They ate all their meat, so a man said he would find some for them, but he was not as cunning as a wolf.
Thumbnail For The Elephant And The Dog
A dog began going into the stable of the king's Elephant. They soon became friends, but the dog was sold to a farmer and the elephant pined for his friend.
Thumbnail For The Elephant Girly-Face
A king's Elephant was named Girly-face, because he was gentle and looked kind. One day he heard men planning to kill and thought this is what he should do.
Thumbnail For The Foolhardy Wolf
A wolf began serving a lion, helping in the hunt in exchange for a share of the food. After a while, he had a mind to hunt and kill an elephant on his own.
Thumbnail For The Foolish Timid Rabbit
A rabbit asleep under a palm-tree woke and heard a cocoanut fall. He thought the world was breaking up and ran as fast as he could, telling anyone he met.
Thumbnail For The Girl Monkey And The String Of Pearls
As a king and his family swam Girl Monkey jumped out of a tree and stole the queen's string of pearls. At first, it was thought a man committed the crime.
Thumbnail For The Golden Goose
A goose, with feathers of gold, after seeing a poor woman and her daughters decided to give them his feathers, one by one. But the old woman became greedy.
Thumbnail For Grannie's Blackie
There was a woman the children called Granny, who had an elephant they called Granny's Blackie. As Granny was getting old, Blackie decided to do the work.
Thumbnail For The Hawks And Their Friends
A family of Hawks lived on an island. Mother Hawk told Father Hawk to find friends, in case of danger. He made three: a lion, a Kingfisher and a Turtle.
Thumbnail For How The Monkey Saved His Troop
A mango tree dropped its fruit on land and also in the river it grew by. Monkeys picked the fruit from the land, but a mango washed up at a king's feet.
Thumbnail For How The Turtle Saved His Own Life
A king, who had made a lake for his sons to swim in, decided to put some fish in it. With the fish a turtle appeared, who the princes thought was a demon.
Thumbnail For The King's White Elephant
A group of carpenters were working in the forest, when an elephant limped to them, with a splinter in its foot. They removed it and were amply rewarded.
Thumbnail For The Lion In Bad Company
A young lion not heeding his father's advice became friends with a wolf. The wolf suggested they hunt pony and again the lion did not listen to his father.
Thumbnail For The Measure Of Rice
A bad king had a valuer, who was honest and set the right prices for items. The king thought that if he replaced him with another, he could become richer.
Thumbnail For The Merchant Of Seri
A good merchant selling brass and tinware worked with a dishonest one, who tried to trick a poor family out of a gold bowl. The honest man told the truth.
Thumbnail For The Monkey And The Crocodile
A troop of monkeys, living by the river, were watched by a crocodile, who told her son to catch her one. But, it was difficult and the monkey was tricky.
Thumbnail For The Otters And The Wolf
A wolf went to catch some fish for his mate. On the bank two otters were arguing over a fish and they asked the wolf to decide how it should be divided.
Thumbnail For The Ox Who Envied The Pig
On a farm were two ox brothers, Big Red and Little Red. There was also a pig being fattened for a feast. Little Red, seeing what the pig ate, was jealous.
Thumbnail For The Ox Who Won The Forfeit
A man owned a very strong Ox, which he wagered could pull one hundred carts. But, because of the harsh way the man treated the Ox, he refused to pull them.
Thumbnail For The Penny-Wise Monkey
A king and his army were marching to conqueror a little country. When the king saw a monkey loose all his peas, trying to recover one, he turned back home.
Thumbnail For Prince Wicked And The Grateful Animals
A king had a son, named Prince Wicked, who was fierce and cruel. One day he was washed away in a storm and clung to a log with a rat, a snake and a parrot.
Thumbnail For The Princes And The Water Sprite
A king had three sons, Prince of the Stars, Moon Prince and Sun Prince. The king sent them into the forest, telling them to return and rule after he died.
Thumbnail For The Quarrel Of The Quails
A group of quails lived in a forest. A man, hearing their leader calling them, made the same sound so he could catch many of them. The leader had a plan.
Thumbnail For The Red-Bud Tree
Four princes heard about the wonderful Red-Bud Tree, which they longed to see. All four managed to find the tree, but each one saw it looking different.
Thumbnail For The Sandy Road
A merchant, was traveling across the desert with his man and many carts. Just before they reached their destination they became lost and had no water left.
Thumbnail For The Stolen Plow
A trader, living in the country, took his broken plow to the his friend in town to have it mended. But the man sold it, claiming it had been eaten by mice.
Thumbnail For The Stupid Monkeys
The king's gardener, hearing of a holiday in the town, decided to join his friends. He asked the Chief of the Monkeys to water the trees, when he was gone.
Thumbnail For The Three Fishes
Three Fishes named Thoughtful, Very-Thoughtful, and Thoughtless traveled from the country to near a town, but Very-Thoughtful saw danger, saving them all.
Thumbnail For The Tricky Wolf And The Rats
A big rat lived in the forest, who the others, called Chief. A wolf seeing the rats hatched a plan to eat them, for which he had to stand on his hind legs.
Thumbnail For The Turtle Who Could Not Stop Talking
A turtle was friends with two geese. When the geese returned home the turtle went with them, but he had to hold on to a stick, they carried as they flew.
Thumbnail For Why Owl Is Not The King Of Birds
The beasts learnt that men and fishes each had a king and wanted one too. The owl was suggested, but a crow disagreed. Which is why they are still enemies.
Thumbnail For The Wise And Foolish Merchant
Two merchants were to take the same route. The thrifty merchant let the foolish one decide which order they left. He made the wrong choice and went first.
Thumbnail For The Wise Goat And The Wolf
Once many goats lived by a pair of wolves. One by one the wolves ate them, until there was just one left. But, she was wise and they could not catch her.
Thumbnail For The Woodpecker And The Lion
When he was eating, a bone stuck in a lion's throat. Hearing the lion's roars a woodpecker offered to pull it out, providing the lion did not swallow him.
Thumbnail For The Woodpecker, The Turtle, And The Deer
A Woodpecker, a turtle and deer were friends. One day, a hunter set a trap that caught the deer. Luckily, his two friends set out to rescue him from death.

Sources And Further Reading

Sacred Texts Jataka Tales by Ellen C. Babbitt [1912]