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Taming a Mad Elephant


Devadatta was a monk who wished to displace the Buddha as the leader of the sangha. Thus Devadatta was constantly coming up with schemes to murder the Buddha.

One day, the Buddha led his disciples with their alms-bowls outside the city of Rajagrha to collect alms. Suddenly a mad drunken elephant charged towards the Buddha and his disciples. When the monks saw it coming they were frightened and quickly ran for cover. They implored the Buddha to run away and avoid the violent onslaught of the mad elephant.

But the Buddha said calmly, “Monks, do not be frightened. One who has attained Buddhahood will not allow himself to be harmed or killed by external violence.”

As the Buddha spoke, the mad elephant drew nearer him. Once the elephant was close enough to see the Buddha it knelt down and became tame. The Buddha taught the elephant about taking refuge in the Triple Gem. As the elephant listened, tears flowed down from its eyes. Thus, Devadatta’s plan to murder the Buddha with a mad elephant, did not succeed.


-- Footprints in the Ganges: The Buddha's Stories on Cultivation and Compassion

(by Venerable Master Hsing Yun)