Prince Siddhartha Remembers He Was Once A Great Swan
(Siddhartha - The Birth Name Of The Historical Buddha)

     Prince Siddhartha was very kind to people, animals and other living things. As a very brave horseman he won many prizes in the country. Although he did not have to suffer any hardships and difficulties as he belonged to the royal family and had everything he could possibly want, he always thought of the poor people and all living things who were working hard to make him happy and to make the world a beautiful place. He felt sorry for any suffering or underprivileged person or animal and wanted to make them happy too, as he always was.

     One day he was walking in the woods with his cousin Devadatta who had his bow and arrows with him. Suddenly Devadatta saw a swan flying and shot at it. His arrow brought the swan down. Both the boys ran to get the swan. As Siddhartha could run faster than Devadatta, he reached the bird first and found, to his surprise, that the swan was still alive. As he looked in the swan's eyes Siddhartha remembered that he once had been a swan himself. He felt a great sadness in his heart and gently pulled out the arrow from the great swan’s wing. He then got a little juice from cool leaves, put it on the bird’s wounds to stop the bleeding. With his soft hand, he stroked the swan which was very frightened. He whispered prayers over the swan as Devadatta approached breathless. 

     When Devadatta came to claim the swan, naturally Prince Siddhartha refused to give it to him. Devadatta was very angry to see his cousin keeping the swan away from him. "Give me my bird, I shot it down, it belongs to me" said Devadatta.

     "No, said Siddhartha. I am not going to give it to you. It is not yours. It belongs to the sky and should be set free to go on its way as soon as it is able. Until it recovers it is mine since I saved its life," said Siddhartha.

     Devadatta still did not agree. Then Siddhartha suggested," Let us go to the Court of the Elders and ask them who really owns the swan."

     Devadatta agreed, so of them went to the Court of the Elders to tell them about their quarrel. The Elders said, "A life certainly must belong to him who tries to save it, a life cannot belong to one who is only trying to destroy it. The wounded swan by right belongs to Siddhartha."

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