Children are curious to learn new things, and there is no better way to teach them love, compassion, wisdom and kindness than through Buddha stories. These are the stories from The Jataka, which celebrate the life of Buddha in many forms.
Sometimes, Buddha lives like a human. At other times, he takes up the form of an animal. Irrespective of the life form he encompasses, his actions reflect compassion and kindness. These pearls of wisdom are explained best through Buddha stories that children can use for the rest of their lives.
Here we have collected various Buddha stories which are simple to understand with a moral at the end. We hope you enjoy these simple yet powerful Buddha stories and read them to your children.
The Falling Earth
Once upon a time, a rabbit was sleeping under a huge coconut tree. Suddenly, one of the coconuts from the tree separated from the tree and fell on the rabbit’s head. The rabbit woke up scared and thought, “The earth is breaking, and the sky is falling!”
The rabbit began running towards the forest’s river.
On its way there, it met another rabbit. The second rabbit asked what happened. Upon listening to the problem, the second rabbit joined the first rabbit. Both began running towards the river. Hearing their screams, a deer asked what was wrong. Soon, the deer was running along with two rabbits towards the river.
Not long after, the three animals, a boar, an elk, an ox, a tiger and an elephant. All eight animals were running as fast as they could towards the river to take shelter from a sky that seemed to be falling.
A lion heard their cries and came out of his den.
“What is wrong?” the lion asked.
“The earth is breaking and the sky is falling!” replied the elephant.
“Who told you that?” the lion asked.
All the animals looked at the first rabbit. The rabbit nodded and said, “Yes, it is true.”
The lion thought that the problem should be solved, otherwise all the animals will jump into the river and drown. So the lion asked the first rabbit to show where the sky was falling. Eagerly, the rabbit led the group to the place where it was sleeping. The fallen coconut was still there.
The lion explained that just because a coconut fell from a tree does not mean the earth is breaking or the sky is falling.
Moral of this story: Do not believe everything that you hear. When one person speaks something that is false, everyone else thinks it is true.
The Kind Master
In a tiny village, a calf was born on a farm. The calf was beautiful with pure black skin. His master took excellent care of him. The calf soon grew to become a handsome and strong bull.
The bull thought to himself, “my master has taken such wonderful care of me since I was born. I must do something to repay his kindness.”
Thinking this, the bull asked his master what he could do to show his gratitude. The master said, “there is a competition coming up soon in the village. We will go there.” The winner of the competition would be any master and his bull that could pull one thousand gold pieces.
But when both of them went to the competition, the master sat on the bull, kicked its sides and said, “Let’s go!”. The bull was always treated with kindness by the master and did not understand this sudden cruelty being displayed by him. So he did not move from his position. Soon, the winners of the competition were announced. The master had lost.
After returning home, the bull told his master, “did the greed for money take away all the kindness that you had for me?”
The master fell silent.
The bull said, “Let us participate in the competition again. This time, please ask me kindly to pull the gold pieces. I am sure we will do better.”
After a few days, the master and the bull went to the competition again. This time, the master said, “my beautiful bull, please do your best in this competition. Pull these gold pieces as far as possible.”
This time, the master remembered not to kick the bull or treat it unkindly. He simply said a few words of encouragement and waited for the bull to do its job.
Very soon, the bull began pulling the gold pieces and went far ahead of other teams. The master won the competition.
Moral of this story: Do not let greed for money steal your kindness. Treat everyone with love and kindness and you will reap the rewards in return.
The Greedy Monkey
There once lived a king who lived in a very big kingdom. However, this king was not happy with what he owned. He was always trying to expand his kingdom by creating wars with neighbouring kings. Once, the king, along with his soldiers, started their journey to a far place to acquire a new kingdom. Because the journey was long, the group stopped in a forest for some rest. There was a lake nearby where the king’s horses were taken to drink water. The rest of the soldiers sat down to eat their food. Soon, the horses returned from the lake and were given peas to eat.
A monkey sitting on a tree was watching this.
Hungry, the monkey climbed down from the tree and grabbed a handful of peas. Holding those peas in his hand, he returned to his spot on the tree. But as soon as it reached there, a pea dropped from the monkey’s hands. The monkey immediately let go of all the peas in its hand. It climbed down the tree again and started searching for the fallen pea, but it did not find it. It became sad and returned to its spot. This time, it lost not just one pea but all the peas it had initially taken.
The king, who was watching, realized that the monkey had taught him a lesson. Instead of being happy with the large kingdom that he owned, he was always searching for one more kingdom and one more victory.
The king immediately ordered his soldiers to pack up and happily returned to his home.
Moral of this story: The grass is always greener on the other side. It is important to be happy with what you have.
The Coy Wolf
Once upon a time, a wolf lived on the banks of a river.
One day, because of a sudden flood, the wolf had to move on top of a rock. He planned to wait there until the water reduced. But as days went by, the wolf became hungry because he had not eaten anything for the past few days. But there was nowhere that he could go.
Finally, he decided to fold his legs in a prayer-like position and think about the meaning of his life. He thought about all the times he was angry and greedy. He decided that he will change into a new wolf by meditating for a long time. Thinking so, he began his meditation.
Buddha decided to test the wolf’s intention. Since Buddha could take up the form of any animal, human, or a bird, he took the form of a lamb and appeared in front of the wolf. Seeing the plump, juicy lamb, the wolf’s mouth began to water.
“I will become a new wolf tomorrow. Now I must eat this lamb,” thought the wolf. He jumped from his position on the rock and chased the lamb. But he was not able to catch it. He tried for many hours before giving up due to exhaustion.
“No problem. I have still kept my promise of not eating anything,” thought the wolf. Buddha appeared in front of him and said, “No you broke your promise by chasing the lamb. Making promises is very easy, but abiding by them is extremely difficult.”
Moral of this story: Making promises is very easy, but it is equally difficult to keep them.
The Foolish Donkey
Once upon a time, a farmer lived in a tiny village who owned a donkey.
Every day, the farmer and his donkey would go around the village selling goods. But the farmer did not earn enough to feed good food to his donkey. After thinking for many days, the farmer came up with an idea. He knew the villagers were scared of lions.
So, the farmer disguised his donkey as a lion. Then, he let the donkey free in other farms with rich food for the donkey. Every day, the farmer would disguise the donkey as a lion and the donkey would eat food from other farms. The villagers did not dare to come near the lion, so the donkey would eat to its heart’s content.
The farmer thought he was very smart. One day, he let the donkey free as usual and sat down to eat his own food. Meanwhile, the donkey began eating the food on a neighbouring farm. But this time, the villagers were ready. With sticks and rocks, the villagers tried to chase away what they thought was a lion.
Scared at being bullied, the donkey started braying: Heehaw! Heehaw!
The moment the villagers heard the sound, they knew it was not a lion but a donkey. They started laughing and chased the donkey and his master away from the village.
Moral of this story: Don’t be deceived by the looks of someone.
The Smart Goose
Once, there was a goose that was not any ordinary goose because it had beautiful, shiny golden feathers on its body. One day, the goose was flying over a village when it saw a poor mother struggling to take care of her daughters. Feeling pity, the goose thought of a way of helping the mother. The goose went to her and said, “I cannot offer you money, but I can give you one of my feathers. Please sell this. It will give you some money for your family.”
The mother felt very grateful and thanked the goose. Next day, she and her daughters went to the market and bought nice things for themselves with the money. To help the mother, the goose returned every month. Each time, it gave one of its feathers to the mother. But the mother started getting greedy because she was receiving only one feather at a time.
She thought, “this is very slow. I will never get rich at this slow pace. I must catch the goose and use all of its feathers at once.”
When the goose returned the next month, the mother caught the goose. Holding the goose in her hand, she took out all of its feathers. What the mother did not know was that if anyone went against the will of the goose, the ugly feathers were of no use now. The minute the mother pulled out the feathers, they turned black. All the gold vanished.
The daughters cried in despair and took the goose to the forest. There, they took good care of it and the golden feathers returned.
The goose never helped the mother again in the future. The mother remained in poverty.
Moral of this story: The greatest wealth of all is kindness
The Magic Elephant
There once lived an elephant in a kingdom. The elephant was so big and beautiful that he served the king directly.
The king travelled everywhere with the elephant, and everyone praised the elephant a lot. The king became jealous and decided to get rid of the elephant.
He said to the elephant’s caretaker: “You claim that the elephant is so special. If it really is special, then it should be able to climb a mountain.”
The caretaker took the elephant to the top of the mountain. This time, the king said, “it is not enough. If the elephant is really special, then it should be able to fly.”
The caretaker understood that the king did not value the elephant. He whispered in the elephant’s ear: “your master does not like you anymore. Fly away to another kingdom.”
The elephant flapped its ears and flew away to a nice kingdom. Only then, the king realized that the elephant was actually special.
Moral of this story: Pride leads to a fall, always.