Grandma’s Blackie – Jataka Tales

Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
Once upon a time, when King Brahmadatta
was ruling in Benares, there was an old woman
who had a calf. This calf was of a noble dark col-
our. In fact, he was jet black without a spot of
white. He was the Bodhisatta – the Enlightenment
The old woman raised the little calf just as
though he were her own child. She fed him only
the very best rice and rice porridge. She petted his
head and neck, and he licked her hand. Since they
were so friendly, the people began calling the calf,
‘Grandma’s Blackie’.
Even after he grew up into a big strong
bull, Grandma’s Blackie remained very tame and
gentle. The village children played with him,
holding onto his neck and ears and horns. They
would even grab his tail and swing up onto his
back for a ride. He liked children, so he never
The friendly bull thought, “The loving old
woman, who brought me up, is like a kind mother
to me. She raised me as if I were her own child.
She is poor and in need, but too humble to ask for
my help. She is too gentle to force me to work.
Because I also love her, I wish to release her from
the suffering of poverty.” So he began looking for
One day a caravan of 500 carts came by the
village. It stopped at a difficult place to cross the
river. The bullocks were not able to pull the carts
across. The caravan leader hooked up all 500 pairs
of bullocks to the first cart. But the river was so
rough that they could not pull across even that one
Faced with this problem, the leader began
looking for more bulls. He was known to be an
expert judge of the qualities of bulls. While exam-
ining the wandering village herd, he noticed
Grandma’s Blackie. At once he thought, “This no-
ble bullock looks like he has the strength and the
will to pull my carts across the river.”
He said to the villagers standing nearby,
“To whom does this big black bull belong? I
would like to use him to pull my caravan across
the river, and I am willing to pay his owner for his
services.” The people said, “By all means, take
him. His master is not here.”
So he put a rope through Grandma’s
Blackie’s nose. But when he pulled, he could not
budge him! The bull was thinking, “Until this man
says what he will pay for my work, I will not
Being such a good judge of bulls, the cara-
van leader understood his reasoning. So he said,
“My dear bull, after you have pulled my 500 carts
across the river, I will pay you two gold coins for
each cart – not just one, but two!” Hearing this,
Grandma’s Blackie went with him at once.
Then the man harnessed the strong black
bull to the first cart. He proceeded to pull it across
the river. This was what all one thousand bulls
could not do before. Likewise, he pulled across
each of the other 499 carts, one at a time, without
slowing down a bit!
When all was done, the caravan leader
made a package containing only one gold coin per
cart, that is, 500 coins. He hung this around the
mighty bullock’s neck. The bull thought, “This
man promised two gold coins per cart, but that is
not what he has hung around my neck. So I will
not let him leave!” He went to the front of the
caravan and blocked the path.
The leader tried to push him out of the way,
but he would not move. He tried to drive the carts
around him. But all the bulls had seen how strong
he was, so they would not move either!
The man thought, “There is no doubt that
this is a very intelligent bull, who knows I have
given him only half-pay.” So he made a new pack-
age containing the full one thousand gold coins,
and hung it instead around the bull’s neck.
Then Grandma’s Blackie re-crossed the
river and walked directly towards the old woman,
his ‘mother’. Along the way, the children tried to
grab the money package, thinking it was a game.
But he escaped them.
When the woman saw the heavy package,
she was surprised. The children told her all about
what happened down at the river. She opened the
package and discovered the one thousand gold
The old woman also saw the tired look in
the eyes of her ‘child’. She said, “Oh my son, do
you think I wish to live off the money you earn?
Why did you wish to work so hard and suffer so?
No matter how difficult it may be, I will always
care for and look after you.”
Then the kind woman washed the lovely
bull and massaged his tired muscles with oil. She
fed him good food and cared for him, until the end
of their happy lives together.
The moral is: Loving-kindness makes the
poorest house into the richest home.

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