The Tree That Acted Like A Hunter – Jataka Tales
Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
Once upon a time, there was an antelope
who lived in the deep forest. He ate the fruits that
fell from the trees. There was one tree that had
become his favourite.
In the same area there was a hunter who
captured and killed antelopes and deer. He put
down fruit as bait under a tree. Then he waited,
hiding in the branches above. He held a rope
noose hanging down to the ground around the
fruits. When an animal ate the fruit, the hunter
tightened the noose and caught him.
Early one morning the antelope came to his
favourite tree in search of fruits to eat. He did not
see that the hunter was hiding in it, with his
noose-trap ready. Even though he was hungry, the
antelope was very careful. He was on the lookout
for any possible danger. He saw the delicious
looking ripe fruits at the foot of his favourite tree.
He wondered why no animal had yet eaten any,
and so he was afraid something was wrong.
The hiding hunter saw the antelope ap-
proaching from a distance. Seeing him stop and
take great care, he was afraid he would not be able
to trap him. He was so anxious that he began
throwing fruits in the direction of the antelope,
trying to lure him into coming closer.
But this was a pretty smart antelope. He
knew that fruits only fall straight down when they
fall from trees. Since these fruits were flying to-
wards him, he knew there was danger. So he ex-
amined the tree itself very carefully, and saw the
hunter in the branches. However, he pretended not
to see him.
He spoke in the direction of the tree. “Oh
my dear fruit tree, you used to give me your fruits
by letting them fall straight down to the ground.
Now, throwing them towards me, you do not act at
all like a tree! Since you have changed your hab-
its, I too will change mine. I will get my fruits
from a different tree from now on, one that still
acts like a tree!”
The hunter realized his mistake and saw
that the antelope had outsmarted him. This an-
gered him and he yelled out, “You may escape me
this time, you clever antelope, but I’ll get you next
time for sure!”
The antelope realized that, by getting so
angry, the hunter had given himself away a second
time. So he spoke in the direction of the tree
again. “Not only don’t you act like a tree, but you
act like a hunter! You foolish humans, who live by
killing animals. You do not understand that killing
the innocent brings harm also to you, both in this
life and by rebirth in a hell world. It is clear that
we antelopes are far wiser than you. We eat fruits,
we remain innocent of killing others, and we
avoid the harmful results.”
So saying, the careful antelope leaped into
the thick forest and was gone.
The moral is: The wise remain innocent.