The Golden Deer of Jataka Tales

The Golden Deer is a very famous story from the world-famous Jataka tale series of the Buddha’s previous lives when he was famous by the name of the bodhisattva.

The story of the Golden deer, who is also known by the name of the ruru deer first appeared in the Pali Canon and is present in the Jatakamala of Arya Sura. This deer has a huge significance in the Hindu as well as the Buddhist religion.

Origin: The Jataka Tale Teaches Forgiveness

The Jataka Tales are a collection of various literature natives belonging to India which describes the previous birth of Gautama Buddha in the human form and as well as the animal form.

Origin and History
Origin and History

It is described in various stories that the future Buddha may appear as a king, a God, an elephant, an outcast, and various other forms but whatever be the form, he will exhibit some virtue that the tale thereby describes.

The various stories present in the series of Jataka include an extensive cast of characters who you are facing several problems of daily life and the character of Buddha intervenes and resolves all the problems and finally brings out a happy ending.

It is also believed that the Jataka tales are the precursors to the various biographies of Gautama Buddha, which were composed at some later date or year.

Arya Surah has given around 34 Jataka tales in the Sanskrit language. Jataka scenes are inscribed in the Ajanta Caves along with the coats from Arya Sura.

The Story of Ruru Deer

The story of the Ruru dear or the golden deer can be traced back to the previous life of Buddha. This story has a very great significance and religiously followed by the people of Buddhism.

The Story of Reru Deer
The Story of Reru Deer

In this particular life where Buddha was a deer, he was named bodhisattva.

He was a beautiful deer who was golden in color and was well aware of the fact that various hunters would love to hang his skin or other parts on their wall so, he was very reluctant for revealing his identity to the world.

He risked everything and also rescued a man who was stuck in a very ferocious current and in this course also promises that he would never reveal the Bodhisattva’s existence to anyone in the world.

But unfortunately, the man who was rescued by Buddha breaks this promise and told the king where the Golden deer was present.

He did this because he was tempted and lured by the queen and was offered that they will make him live a rich and wealthy life without any hindrances and consequences.

Thus, as a result, the king was able to find out about the lie of the rescued man and prepared to kill him. But finally, bodhisattva preached that a person should not strike on someone who is already stricken by the miseries of life.

The story finally ended with the concluding scene where the Golden deer could be seen standing on a throne at a height and speaking the words of wisdom or dharma to the whole world.

Forgiveness Lesson

The story of the Golden deer teaches the wonderful lesson of forgiveness to all the readers around the world.

Forgiveness Lesson
Forgiveness Lesson

It is described in the story that Bodhisattva was a beautiful deer who was Golden in color and sparkled like it had many colored gems attached to the body.

One day, he realized that the dazzling appearance would definitely make him desirable to the hunters and they would finally kill and capture him, he hid in the thickest parts of the forest where the humans rarely entered.

But as we have already discussed that when this deer saved the life of a man and in return demanded that he should not tell anyone about his whereabouts and the part in which he is living his life, the man betrayed the deer and told the king about his exact location.

As a result, the king gave orders to all the hunters present in his land and said that whoever was able to find the shining Golden deer and would be able to bring it back to the king will receive a village and all its wealth in the form of the reward.

The man took all the hunters and the king to the place where the Golden deer was living.

The hunters and the king spotted the golden deer and what about to kill him when the dear approached the king.

He said in the human voice that he should stop and wanted an explanation that how they were able to find him in this part of the Jungle.

The king was amused to see the deer talk and told him that this particular man told about his whereabouts.

The dear said that it is better to take out a log from flood than to save an ungrateful person from it.

The king was confused and asked that what did you mean to which the deer replied that he is speaking to the wrongdoer to prevent him from doing wrong again.

He is speaking these words because he rescued that particular man from danger and now he is brought back the danger to him.

After hearing all this, the king became very angry as the man had betrayed and broken the promise which was made to the deer.

He was about to kill the man with his arrow when the deer saved him and said that the king should not kill a person who has already been killed by his doings.

The king became very happy after hearing these words of wisdom and said that if he could forgive him so can the king.

He gave the man the village and all the wealth which he promised and took the deer to his capital where he stood on a throne and gave the speech of wisdom and dharma to the world.

The words of wisdom which were spoken by the deer are as follows:

“I believe all the moral laws can be summed this way: Give compassion to all creatures and be quick to forgive.  For compassion and forgiveness brings you freedom and peace within your soul and to the creatures and people to whom you give such gifts.”

Symbolism of Golden Deer

The golden deer is considered to be a symbol of forgiveness and wisdom by the people not only following Buddhism but all around the world.

Symbolism of Golden Deer
Symbolism of Golden Deer

The Jataka tale tells just about the fact that the outer beauty of any individual does not matter or is of any significance.

What matters the most is the inner beauty of the mind of the creature which makes him or her a great living being.

The golden deer is also considered to be a symbol of beauty and purity. The deer is also seen as a symbol of honesty and humble nature.


The Golden Deer is considered to be a great symbol not only Buddhism but also Hinduism.

The Ruru dear is used as a desirable animal who was wanted by Princes Sita in the Hindu tale Ramayana and also by the queen in the Buddhist tale of the Jataka stories.

This animal caused temptation in both the cases and resulted in the downfall of rescued man and as well as Princess Sita.

The story displays how one should not surrender in front of their temptations and also tells us to show compassion to all the living creatures and treat them equally.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How old are the Jataka tales?

The Jataka Tales are dated back to somewhere around the 8th to 9th Centuries.

Is Buddha present in all the Jataka Tales?

Yes, Gautama Buddha is present in all the Jataka stories. He is present in every story in the form of any animal, tree, human being, etc.