| Jataka Tales|
|by Ellen C. Babbitt|
|Eighteen fables from the Jatakas of India, skillfully retold and attractively illustrated. Includes The Monkey and the Crocodile, The Merchant of Seri, The Turtle Who Wouldn’t Stop Talking, The Foolish Timid Rabbit, The Banyan Deer, and others. Ages 7-10 |
THE BANYAN DEER
HERE was once a Deer the color of gold.
His eyes were like round jewels, his horns were white as
silver, his mouth was red like a flower, his hoofs were
bright and hard. He had a large body and a fine tail.
He lived in a forest and was king of a herd of five hundred
Banyan Deer. Near by lived another herd of Deer, called
the Monkey Deer. They, too, had a king.
The king of that country was fond of hunting the Deer and
eating deer meat. He did not like to go alone so he called
the people of his town to go with him, day after day.
The townspeople did not like this for while they were gone
no one did their work. So they decided to make a park and
drive the Deer into it. Then the king could go into the park
and hunt and they could go on with their daily work.
 They made a park, planted grass in it and provided water for
the Deer, built a fence all around it and drove the Deer
Then they shut the gate and went to the king to tell him
that in the park near by he could find all the Deer he
The king went at once to look at the Deer. First he saw
there the two Deer kings, and granted them their lives. Then
he looked at their great herds.
Some days the king would go
to hunt the Deer, sometimes his cook would go. As soon as
any of the Deer saw them they would shake with fear and run.
But when they had been hit once or twice they would drop
The King of the Banyan Deer sent for the King of the Monkey
Deer and said, "Friend, many of the Deer are being killed.
Many are wounded besides those who are killed. After this
suppose one from my herd goes up to be killed one day, and
the next day let one from your herd go up. Fewer Deer
will be lost this way."
The King of the Banyan Deer sent for the King of the Monkey Deer.
The Monkey Deer agreed. Each day the Deer whose turn it was
would go and lie down, placing its
 head on the block. The cook would come and carry off
the one he found lying there.
One day the lot fell to a mother Deer who had a young baby.
She went to her king and said, "O King of the Monkey Deer,
let the turn pass me by until my baby is old enough to get
along without me. Then I will go and put my head on
But the king did not help her. He told her that if the lot
had fallen to her she must die.
Then she went to the King of the Banyan Deer and asked him
to save her.
"Go back to your herd. I will go in your place," said he.
The next day the cook found the King of the Banyan Deer
lying with his head on the block. The cook went to the king,
who came himself to find out about this.
"King of the Banyan Deer! did I not grant you your life?
Why are you lying here?"
"O great King!" said the King of the Banyan Deer, "a mother
came with her young baby and told me that the lot had fallen
to her. I could not ask any one else to take her place, so I
 "King of the Banyan Deer! I never saw such kindness and
mercy. Rise up. I grant your life and hers. Nor will I hunt
any more the Deer in either park or forest."
Rise up. I grant your life and hers.
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