Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

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

007 – The Story of a Buffalo

Story of a Buffalo, Ajanta

Once, the Bodhisatta was born as a buffalo in Himava. He was dark and dirty-looking. Though born in the animal-state he believed in righteousness; and exerted his best to uphold the value of a good conduct. In the same forest there lived a wicked monkey, who used to tease and bully him. Sometimes he would leap upon the back of the sleeping buffalo. Sometimes he would obstruct him from grazing the grass. Sometimes he would climb on his head by holding his horns and swing down by holding his tail. Sometimes he would mount on his back with a brandishing stick to counterfeit Yamaraja – the lord of death. [It may be noted that in the Indian mythologies buffalo is said to be the vehicle of Yamaraja]. The gentle animal bore all the unbecoming behaviour of the monkey to practise the virtue of forbearance.

In the same region there lived a yaksa, as a spirit of a tree. He resented the monkey’s acts. So, one day he advised the buffalo to punish the monkey by using his greater strength. The gentle buffalo declined to do so by saying,

Inflicting grief on others –

To overcome one’s own discomfort

Is no virtue:

As the result of such acts

Shall not bear the fruits of true happiness.

Yet, he added that one day the monkey would have his lesson; but then he would be saved from the guilt of inflicting any pain on the other.

Monkey riding the gentle buffalo

Indeed, a few days later, when the gentle buffalo was away, a savage buffalo came and stood on the same spot. The wicked monkey thinking him to be the same buffalo jumped on his back and tried the same games. The other buffalo in no time shook him off on the ground and pierced the horns straight into his heart and trampled him with his hoofs.

The monkey was thus killed in no time.

The agressive buffalo throws the monkey down before killing him.
Mark the expression of aggression in the eyes of the buffalo


See Mahisa Jataka, Jataka Pali N0..278; Jatakamala No.33; Chariyapitaka 2.5