The Golden Deer (Story of Jakata tales)
A golden deer lived in the thickest part of the forest and was highly respected by all other animals due to its guidance on how to avoid hunters.
One day the golden deer came in contact with a human whom it rescued before drowning in a river. The deer carried him out on its back warming him with its fur. As a thank you the man promised to keep the deer’s wish, to not let any other human know about its existence.
At the same time the queen dreamed of a beautiful golden deer that preached the dharma in a human voice. So enchanted about that deer she asked the king to help her find it. Thereupon the king issued a proclamation that whoever could bring the deer would receive a rich village and ten beautiful wives in payment.
When the rescued man heard about that and with it the possibility to get himself out of poverty by only breaking the promise to the deer, he could not withstand, went to the king and guided him to the deer.
But when the king was about to catch the deer with an arrow, the deer questioned the king with a human voice ”how did you find me here?”. When the king pointed to the rescued man, the deer further went on “I once rescued this man from danger, and now he brings danger to me”.
When the king as a response was about to shoot the rescued with his arrow, the deer reacted with compassion, placed himself in front of the man and said “do not strike one who is already stricken”. That humbled the king and he said “if you forgive him, so will I”, and he rewarded the man with all the wealth promised.
The golden deer was brought to the capital and to the throne to preach the dharma: “The practice of compassion to all creatures should cause humans to regard all creatures as their own families. If a person regards all creatures as his own family, how can he even think of harming them?”.
Afterwards the dear went back into the forest and the king went on praising the words of the golden deer, and he and his people took up the practice of compassion with their whole hearts.