Jataka Tale – The Golden Deer Teaches Forgiveness (includes a downloadable version in Spanish)

Sunday Service Children’s Story


  • Pictures of the Golden Deer


  • Prepare any necessary materials.
  • Invite children up to steps of altar.
  • Reader of story sits in a chair with children sitting on floor in front of her.
  • Include children’s story, even if there are no children in your congregation, to welcome families who may come to the service.
  • You can add your own creativity to the stories.  You may feel comfortable using props or presenting them just as they are written. In this story, a Jakata tale was included. If you are able to get a book with the Jakata tale then you could read the story from the book and show the illustrations.
  • Feel free to adjust the content to fit your time frame.  However, for the spiritual development of the child, we encourage keeping as much of the Ascended Master’s Teachings as possible.

Time:  8 – 9 minutes depending on storyteller delivery and children’s responses.

Click here for a printable version of the story.

Click here for a printable Spanish version of the story.

Good morning and welcome to our children’s story.  Today our story is about forgiveness.  Forgiveness is a quality of the seventh ray, the violet ray.  Do you know what some of the other qualities of the seventh ray are?  (Allow children to respond.)  Yes, freedom, joy, transmutation, the violet flame.

Our story today is a Jataka tale.  Do you remember what these tales are?  (Allow children to respond.)  Jataka tales are Buddhist stories that teach a moral or show a virtue.  In the Buddhist tradition, the Buddha may be embodied as an animal in some of their stories. In our church we don’t believe that people re-embody as animals. This story refers to the Buddha as the Bodhisattva. Do you want to hear about the Golden Deer?

The Golden Deer Teaches Forgiveness

Long ago the Bodhisattva was born as a particularly beautiful deer, with golden fur that sparkled like many-colored gems. His eyes were as blue as sapphires, and even his horns and hooves shone with the luster of precious stone.  He lived deep within the lush forest.  (Show picture of deer.)


The Bodhisattva realized his dazzling appearance would make him desirable to men, who would capture and kill him and hang his beautiful hide on a wall. So, he remained in the thickest parts of the forest where humans rarely ventured.

Because of his wisdom the other forest creatures came to respect him and considered him their King.  One day the Golden Deer heard the cries of a man, “Help, help, save me.”  The deer saw the man being carried away in the strong rapids of a rain-swollen river.

The Golden Deer responded, and cried out in a human voice, “Do not fear!”

The deer entered the treacherous current, and bracing himself, he allowed the exhausted man to climb on his back.  He carried the man to the safety of the bank and warmed him with his fur.

The man was beside himself with gratitude and wonder at the marvelous deer. “No one has ever done anything for me such as you have done today,” he said. “My life is yours. What can I do to repay you?”

To this, the Golden Deer said, “All I ask is that you do not tell other humans about me.  If men knew of my existence, they would come to hunt me.”

“I promise to keep this secret, for I owe you my life,” said the man. Then he bowed and began the journey back to his home.

At that time, in that country, the Queen had extraordinary visions in her dreams that eventually became real. One night she dreamed of a brilliant Golden Deer that sparkled like THE GOLDEN DEER jewels. The deer stood on a throne, surrounded by the royal family, and preached the dharma, or purpose of life, in a human voice.  (Show picture.)

The Queen awoke and went to her husband, the King, to tell him of this astonishing dream.  She said to him, “Go and find the deer and bring it to the court.”

The King, trusting his wife's visions, agreed to find the deer.  He issued a proclamation to all of the hunters of his land:


“Whoever finds the shining, Golden Deer spotted with many colors and brings it to the King will receive a rich village and all its wealth.”                                                                                  


The man who had been rescued by the deer heard that proclamation and was greatly conflicted. He was still grateful to the deer, but he was also very poor, and he imagined himself struggling with poverty for the rest of his life. Now a life of plenty was in his grasp!            All he had to do was break his promise to the Golden Deer.

He was pushed and pulled by feelings of gratitude against feelings of desire for riches. Eventually he told himself that as a wealthy man he could do the world a lot of good to make up for breaking his promise. Resolved, he went to the King and said, “I know where the Golden Deer is and I will take you to it.”

The King was delighted.  He gathered a large body of soldiers and set out to find the deer. They traveled over rivers and through forests, and eventually came to where the unsuspecting Golden Deer was grazing.

“Here he is, Your Majesty,” the man said, starting to point to the deer.  But at that instant, when he raised his arm to point, his hand fell from his arm.

However, the King had already seen the Golden Deer, which sparkled in the sun like a treasury of jewels. And the King was overcome with desire to obtain this beautiful creature. He fitted an arrow to his bow.

The Golden Deer realized that he was surrounded by hunters.  Instead of trying to run, he approached the King and addressed him in a human voice, “Stop, mighty Prince! And please explain how you found me here?”

The King, astonished, put down his bow and pointed to the rescued man.  The Golden Deer said with authority, “Truly, it is better to take a log out of a flood than to save an ungrateful person from it.”

The King asked, “What do you mean by these words of blame?”

“I do not speak with the desire to blame, Your Majesty,” the deer said. “I spoke firmly to a wrong-doer to prevent him from doing wrong again. I speak these words because I rescued this man from danger, and now he brings danger to me.”

The King turned to the rescued man. “Is this true?” he asked.  And the man, now filled with remorse, looked down at the ground and whispered, “Yes.”

Now the King grew angry, and once again he fitted the arrow to his bow. “Why should this lowest of men live any longer?” he roared.

But the Golden Deer placed himself between the King and the rescued man. “Stop, Your Majesty!” he said. “Do not strike one who is already stricken.”

The deer's compassion moved and humbled the King. “Well said, holy being. If you forgive him, so will I.”

“I do forgive him,” said the Golden Deer.

And the King promised to give the man the rich reward he had been promised.

Then the King brought the Golden Deer to the capital. The King invited the deer to stand on the throne and preach the dharma, just as the Queen had seen in her dream.

The Golden Deer spoke, “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.”

Then the King praised the words of the Golden Deer, and he and his people took up the practice of giving compassion to all with their whole hearts. They learned to forgive and the people lived in freedom, joy and love for each other and all creatures of nature.

The Golden Deer disappeared back into the forest, but birds and animals enjoyed safety and peace in that kingdom even to this day.



So, what was the moral of the story?  (Allow children to answer.) Yes, to give compassion and forgiveness, which brings you peace and freedom.  Let’s all remember this lesson and practice it this week.  Can you do that?  Thank you for sharing in our story.  Have a wonderful day.

Children’s Spiritual Story Library

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