Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C. B. Varma Introduction | Glossary | Bibliography

006 – The Story of The Two Deer

Once there lived a deer, who headed the band of one thousand deer in a forest close to the Magadha janapada. He had two young ones Lakkhana and Kala.

One day, thinking that he was getting old he made each of his young ones the leader of five hundred deer to ensure safe grazing for them. As the harvest time was approaching the people took every precaution to protect their crops from the animals. So, they dug pitfalls, fix stakes, set stone traps and so on to kill any encroaching animal. Knowing that fact, the old deer advised the two young ones to go to the mountains along with their herds by avoiding the people to spend the harvest season there.

Lakkhana and Kala

Kala was rash and haughty. He, without paying much heed to what his father had advised rushed to the mountains with his herds. He did not bother to remember that the people were quite likely to ambush, shoot and kill them before they could finally reach the mountain. So, Kala lost most of his followers before reaching the mountain.

Lakkana, however, took the advice of his father seriously. He was wise and cautious. He traveled only in nights and thus reached the mountain safely with all his companions.

After four months, when both the leaders returned at the end of the harvest season the deer king noticed that most of followers of Kala were missing and surprisingly all the followers of Lakkhana had arrived, safely. When the old deer heard the whole story he praised the wisdom of Lakkhana and congratulated him.

[Old deer king is identified with Bodhisatta; Lakkhana with Sariputta; and Devadatta with Kala]

See Lakkhana-miga Jataka, Jataka Atthakatha No.11; Dhammapada Atthakatha 1.120.