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The Story Of Ruru Deer

Once upon a time there lived a deer in a dense forest. He was called Ruru. He had a golden body resplendent with the spots of varied hues like that of the rubies, sapphires and emeralds. His hair was extremely soft and silky. His eyes were sky-blue. His hooves and horns looked like the chiselled precious stones. So, when he darted in the forest every one was charmed. All the more, he was endowed with wisdom; and evinced the power to converse in the human language owing to the memory of his past existences. Further, knowing the cruel and ugly mentality of the human beings, which is prone to all kinds of evil deeds, he avoided any encounter with them. Yet, he was compassionate to all alike.

Once, rambling in a thick forest he heard a heart-rending cry. Curiously, when he looked at the direction he saw a man being carried away by a gushing stream. The sight of the man in his utter distress filled his heart with compassion. In order to rescue him, he jumped into the water and asked the man to cling fast to him. The man instead of clinging to him climbed on his delicate back in his panic. Nonetheless, the deer bore the heavy load of the man and brought him safely on the river-bank. He then comforted the shivering man with his warm caresses until he regained consciousness. When the man was back to his senses Ruru dismissed him by saying, “You may now go back to your own fellow beings!”

The man thanked him and expressed his gratitude by saying,

No friend from childhood; nor a kinsman has ever done

What thou hast done to me.

This life of mine is now thine.

Gratefully, I shall always be at your service,

Command me to do something for thee.

The deer then said,

If this be so

Then tell this to none

That thou art saved by one

Who surpasses beauty

And is the most desirable prey for any man –

As the hearts of men have little mercy and no restraint.

Ruru watching the man drowning

Ruru saving the man

the king is pointing the arrow to shoot Ruru

the king salutes Ruru

The man promised to keep his pledge; and protect the life of his benefactor before he departed.

One day, the queen of that country saw a dream where a golden deer appeared standing on a throne and preaching dhamma in an articulate human voice. Bewitched by the elegant sight of the deer, she requested the king to catch the deer for her. The king, who trusted in the veracity of her dreams acted according to her wish by the royal proclamation of the reward of a rich village and ten lovely women for one who would help find out the deer. The man, who was once rescued by the deer, when heard of the rich rewards, went to the king and divulged the secret abode of Ruru. All the more, he took the king and his men to the thicket, where the deer dwelt. But surprisingly, when he raised his hand to show the deer his hand fell off like a chopped limb.

In the meanwhile, the king had seen the deer and his eyes were wide-open at the wonderful sight of the deer.

Now, when the deer noticed the king’s arrow pointing at him; and the people surrounding him from all directions and there was no place to escape, he spoke to the king in an articulate human voice, ‘Sir! Pray first satisfy my curiosity before you kill me. Can you tell me, how did you reach here because I never tread the path of a man”. The king, charmed by his gaiety pointed the man by turning the arrow towards him in reply. The deer then recited,

Better is to lift a log of wood out of water

Than to save an ungrateful one !.

This utterance of the deer aroused the curiosity of the king, who in turn asked the deer to explain the context. The deer then narrated the story of the man, who he had rescued. The king was moved by the story and commended his compassion and bravery; but at the same time was terribly furious at the ungrateful man. So, to punish the man when he pulled the string of the bow to shoot him, Ruru requested him to forgive the man. So, the king forgave the man but invited the deer to visit his kingdom as a royal guest. Ruru accepted the invitation; and on the king’s request mounted the royal carriage to proceed to the kingdom in a pompous procession. Reaching the king’s court, he perched the throne and delivered several discourses to the king, queen, princes and the courtiers for some days. He then returned to his abode for good.

[The cry of the jackals and of birds is understood with ease

The word of men, O king! Is far harder than these].

The author of this story is unknown and greatly appreciated!

What is the Spiritual Moral / Meaning of “The Story Of Ruru Deer”?

In the sacred tale of Ruru the golden deer, we are invited to ponder the profound spiritual lesson of compassion and selflessness. Like the radiant deer with a heart of gold, we are called to extend our loving kindness to all beings, regardless of their station in life or their capacity to reciprocate. Ruru's act of rescuing the drowning man exemplifies the divine quality of compassion that resides within each of us, urging us to rise above our own fears and self-interest to offer solace and support to those in need.

Furthermore, the story of Ruru illuminates the spiritual principle of karma – the law of cause and effect that governs the universe. Despite the man's treachery in betraying his savior to the king, Ruru chooses forgiveness over vengeance, recognizing that the man's actions were driven by ignorance and delusion. In this act of transcendence, Ruru demonstrates the power of compassion to break the cycle of karmic retribution, offering the man an opportunity for redemption and growth.

Moreover, Ruru's encounter with the king underscores the timeless wisdom that lies at the heart of spiritual teachings: the importance of humility and gratitude in the face of adversity. When faced with the imminent threat of death, Ruru does not cower in fear or resentment but instead engages the king in a dialogue of mutual understanding and compassion. Through his eloquent words and noble demeanor, Ruru reminds us of the transformative power of humility and grace, inspiring us to embrace life's challenges with courage and resilience.

Additionally, the story of Ruru serves as a poignant reminder of the interconnectedness of all beings in the web of life. Just as Ruru's fate becomes intertwined with that of the man and the king, so too are our destinies intertwined with those of our fellow beings. In recognizing our shared humanity and interdependence, we awaken to the realization that each act of kindness and compassion reverberates throughout the universe, shaping the course of our collective evolution.

Finally, the tale of Ruru imparts a timeless message of hope and redemption, reminding us that even in the darkest moments, there exists the possibility for healing and transformation. Through his courageous act of forgiveness, Ruru not only saves the life of his betrayer but also catalyzes a profound shift in consciousness within the king.

In this moment of grace, we are reminded that no matter how dire our circumstances may seem, the light of compassion and love has the power to illuminate even the darkest corners of our souls, guiding us towards healing, wholeness, and spiritual awakening.

Personal Reflection Questions

Spiritual stories are an opportunity to reflect on your own life. Here are 10 questions you can use to go deeper with the teachings in this story:

  1. Reflecting on Ruru's compassionate nature, how do you respond to those in need in your own life? Are there times when you hesitate to offer help, and if so, what fears or judgments might be holding you back from extending kindness and support?
  2. Consider the significance of Ruru's decision to rescue the drowning man, despite the risks involved. How does this story inspire you to cultivate greater compassion and courage in your own actions, even when faced with uncertainty or adversity?
  3. Explore the theme of gratitude and loyalty in the story, particularly in the exchange between Ruru and the man he saved. How do you express gratitude in your own life, and how might you deepen your capacity for appreciation and reciprocity in your relationships?
  4. Contemplate the consequences of betrayal and forgiveness as depicted in the story, particularly in the man's decision to betray Ruru to the king. How do you navigate feelings of betrayal or trust in your own relationships, and what lessons can be gleaned from Ruru's response of forgiveness and compassion?
  5. Consider the power dynamics at play in the story, particularly in the king's pursuit of Ruru for the queen's desires. Reflect on instances in your own life where power and desire have influenced your actions or decisions, and how you might align more closely with principles of integrity and respect.
  6. Reflect on the theme of humility and wisdom embodied by Ruru, particularly in his interactions with the king and the man who betrayed him. How do you cultivate humility and grace in moments of triumph or adversity, and what insights can be gained from Ruru's example?
  7. Explore the symbolism of Ruru's golden form and his ability to speak in the human language. How does this imagery resonate with your understanding of spiritual awakening and the interconnectedness of all beings?
  8. Contemplate the idea of redemption and transformation as depicted in the story, particularly in the king's decision to forgive the man and honor Ruru as a royal guest. How do you perceive the potential for growth and healing in moments of conflict or wrongdoing?
  9. Consider the significance of Ruru's departure from the kingdom after delivering his teachings to the court. Reflect on the importance of discernment and detachment in your own spiritual journey, and how you might cultivate greater wisdom and insight through periods of introspection and retreat.
  10. Reflect on the closing verse of the story, which speaks to the difficulty of understanding human words compared to the cries of animals. How do you discern truth and wisdom amidst the noise and distractions of the world, and what practices or principles guide you in seeking clarity and understanding?