Animals in Buddha’s Dhammapada (Post No 2851)


Research Article written by london swaminathan


Date: 28 May 2016


Post No. 2851


Time uploaded in London :– 11-25 AM


(Thanks for the Pictures)




(for old articles go to OR


Contact :


Ancient Rishis (saints) used animals and birds as similes from the Vedic days to teach their disciples. I have never seen so many animals used by the Hindu saints in any other religious literature. Though we see animal similes in many scriptures and literatures around the world, the number of similes are more in Sanskrit and Tamil writings. Our forefathers have observed the birds and animals closely and used them to teach higher values to their followers. I have dealt with them in at least 50 articles in my blog.

Buddha also used animals to teach his followers. There are many books where Buddha refers to them and but in the Dhammapada, the Veda of the Buddhists, there are not many. Let us look at them:–


As the bee takes the essence of a flower and flies away without destroying its beauty and perfume, so let the sage wander in this life (verse 49).


Like fish which is thrown on dry land, taken from his home in waters, the mind strives and struggles to get free from the power of death (verse 34).


Who can trace the invisible path of the man who soars in the sky of liberation, the infinite void without beginning, whose passions are peace, and over whom pleasures have no power? His path is difficult to trace as  that of the birds in the air (verse 93).



Those who have high thoughts are ever striving; they are not happy to remain in the same place. Like swans that leave their lake and rise into the air, they leave their home for a higher home (verse 91).

Swans follow the path of the sun by the miracle of flying through the air. Men who are strong conquer evil and its armies; and then they arise far above the world (verse 175).


The men who wisely controls his senses as a good driver controls his horses and who is free from lower passions and pride, is admired even by the gods (verse 4).

Have fire like a noble horse touched by the whip. By faith, by virtues and energy, by deep contemplation and vision, by wisdom and by right action, you shall overcome the sorrows of life (verse 144)



If a man tries not to learn he grows old just like an ox. His body indeed grows old but his wisdom does not grow (verse 152).


I will endure words that hurt in silent peace as the strong elephant endures in battle arrows sent by the bow, for many people lack self-control (verse 320).

They take trained elephants to battle, and kings ride on royal trained elephants. The best of men are self- trained men, those who can endure abuse in peace (verse 321).

The great elephant called Dhana-palaka is hard to control when in rut, and he will not eat his food when captive, for he remembers the elephant grove (verse 324).

In the days gone by this mind of mine used to stray wherever selfish desire or lust or pleasure would lead it. Today this mind does not stray and is under the harmony of control, even as a wild elephant is controlled by the trainer (verse 326).


Mules when trained are good, and so noble horses of Sindh. Strong elephants when trained are good; but the best is the man who trains himself (verse 322).


The man who is lazy and a glutton, who eats large meals and rolls in sleep, who is like a pig which is fed in the sty, this, this fool is reborn to a life of death (verse 325).

hare hunting


Men who are pursued by lust run around like a hunted hare. Held in fetters and in bonds they suffer and suffer again (verse 342).


Of what use is your tangled hair, foolish man, of what use your antelope garment, if within you have tangled cravings, and without ascetic ornaments? (verse 394).

In addition to birds and animals, Buddha used objects from plant kingdom as well.



buddha elephant

My Previous Research Articles:–

The connection between William Wordsworth and Dattareya (10 November 2011)

13 Saints in Nature (7 November 2013)

Four Birds in One Sloka of Adi Shankara (9 July 2012)

Kapinjala Bird Mystery in Rig Veda ( 23 May 2014)

Strange Bird in Mahabharata- Bhulinga Bird (29 June 2014)

Strange Bird Stories in Mahabharata (12 March 2015)

Ode to Skylark: Shelley, Kalidasa and Vedic Poet Grtsamada

Bird Migration in Kalidasa and Tamil Literature ( 5 February 2012)

Dogs at Sringeri and Kanchi Mutts ( 19 August 2013)

Snake and snake Bites in Mahabharata (10 March 2015)

Animals in the Bhagavad Gita ( 8 July 2015)

Alexander’s Dog and Horse (24 November 2014)

Businessman- born as cow, dog and snake before got liberated (26 December 2015)


For other Animal stories and animal miracles, please read my earlier posts:

1.Animal Einsteins (Part 1 and Part 2) 2. Can parrots recite Vedas? 3. Why do animals worship Gods? 4. Mysterious Messengers for Ajanta, Angkor Wat and Sringeri 5. Elephant Miracles 6). 45 Words for Elephant 7. Can Birds Predict your Future? 8. Two Little Animals That Inspired Indians 9. Three Wise Monkeys from India 10. Mysterious Tamil Bird Man 11.Vedic Dog and Church Dog 11. Deer Chariot:  Rig Veda to Santa Claus 12. Mysterious Fish Gods around the World 13.  Serpent  (Snake) Queen: Indus Valley to Sabarimalai 14.Who Rides What Vahanas (Animal or Bird)? 15. Vahanas in Kalidasa and Tamil Literature 16. Vahanas on coins and in sculptures 17. Gajendra Moksha in Africa 18. The Tortoise Mystery: Can We live for 300 years? 18.Gods and Birds 19.வேத நாயும் மாதா கோவில் நாயும் 20.கழுதைக்குத் தெரியுமா கற்பூர வாசனை 21.Bird Migration in Kalidasa and Tamil Lterature 22.Double Headed Eagle: Sumerian- Indian Connection 23.Karikal Choza and Eagle Shaped Fire Altar 24.Four Birds in One Sloka 25.Hindu Eagle Mystery Deepens 26.Multi lingual parrot mimics Hindi, Arabic and English Word 27.Indian Crow by Mark Twain 28.அதிசய பறவைத் தமிழன்