Happy Bodhi Day 2010 / The Golden Swan

Just a quick note  to say Happy Bodhi Day.

On this day, many many moons ago, the Buddha sat down under a tree and contemplated the purpose of life. He meditated until the true self within him awakened. (Of course there’s more to the story than that…)

We all talk about our wish to mimic his achievement, but we all don’t have the time to sit under a tree and meditate. We do try our best though, and have our practices to fall back on.

I want to share this jataka tale with you on this most auspicious day. I chose this particular one because I think one of the root problems in todays world, greed, is something we all need to awaken from.

The Golden Swan

Once upon a time, there was a swan / goose that had striking golden feathers. This swan lived in a pond. There was a house near this pond, where a poor woman lived with her two daughters. The people were really poor and were leading a tough life. The swan found that the poor mother was passing a hard time with her daughters.

The swan thought, “If I give them one after another my golden feathers, the mother can sell them. She and her daughters can live in comfort with the money raised from it”. After thinking this, the swan flew away to the poor woman’s house. On seeing the swan inside the house, the woman said,” Why have you come here? We have nothing to offer you”.

The Swan replied, “I have not come to take anything, but I have something to give you. I know your condition. I will give my golden feathers one by one and you can sell them. With themoney raised through it, you people can easily live in comfort”. After saying this, the swan shed one of her feathers and then flew away. This became a regular feature and from time to time, the swan came back and every time left another feather.

Like this, the mother and her daughters were happily leading their life by selling the feathers of the golden swan. Each golden feather got them enough money to keep them in comfort. But the mother became greedy to get all the feathers as soon as possible. One day, she said to her daughters, “Now, we will not trust this swan, possibly she may fly away and never come back. If this would happen, we will be poor again. We will take all of her feathers, when she will come the next time”.

The innocent daughters replied, “Mother, this will hurt the swan. We will not cause any pain to her”. But the mother was determined to catch hold the swan the very next time she comes. Next time, when the swan came, the mother caught her and pulled out all of her feathers. Now, the golden feathers of the swan changed into some strange feathers. The mother was shocked to see such feathers.

The Golden Swan said, “Poor Mother, I wanted to help you, but you wanted to kill me instead. As per my wish, I used to give you the golden feather. Now, I think there is no need to help you. Now, my feathers are nothing more than chicken feathers for you. I am going from this place and will never come back”. The mother felt sorry and apologized for the mistake committed by her. The Golden Swan said, “Never be greedy” and flew away.


One Comment

  1. I have heard this story many times, but I always love children’s stories like this. So many of the European Brother’s Grim tales often lack the morality message to take away. When you listen to children’s stories from other places they either explain causality or morality and I think are valuable to keep in our bag of conversations with small children.

    Thank you
    J. Sumitta

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