Jataka Tale: The Frightened Rabbit

Characters: Young lion, rabbit, other rabbits, deer, wild pig, buffalo, ox, rhinoceros, tiger, elephant

Props: Mango (can be a potato)

Narrator: Once the Buddha was born as a young lion in Benares.

One day a rabbit was sleeping under a mango tree. In his dream, he was wondering what would happen if the earth came to an end.

At that moment,  a ripe mango fell to the ground, making a big sound.

Rabbit: The earth is collapsing! The earth is collapsing!

Narrator: The rabbit ran away without looking back to see what made the noise. Other animals heard his cry and then the cries of others, and they also started running away.

Deer: The earth is collapsing!

Wild pig: The earth is collapsing!

Buffalo: The earth is collapsing!

Desi ox: The earth is collapsing!

Rhinoceros: The earth is collapsing!

Tiger: The earth is collapsing!

Elephant: The earth is collapsing!

Narrator: The young lion did not run away. He stopped to think.

Lion: It is not likely that the earth is coming to an end. There must have been some other sound that was misunderstood. I must save the lives of these animals. They are so frightened that they might run into the sea.

[He stops them and asks] Why are you running?

All animals: The earth is collapsing!

Lion: Who saw it?

Animals: The elephant.

Elephant: I didn’t see it. The tiger did.

Tiger: I didn’t see it. The rhinoceros did.

Rhinoceros: I didn’t see it. The ox did.

Ox: I didn’t see it. The wild pig did.

Wild pig: I didn’t see it. The deer did.

Deer: I didn’t see it. The rabbits did.

Rabbits [pointing at the one rabbit]: He told us.

Lion [to that rabbit]: Is it true that the earth is collapsing?

Rabbit: Yes, I heard it when I was lying under the mango tree.

Lion: It must have been the sound of a ripe mango falling to the ground. Let us go back to see the truth.

Narrator: So the lion carried the frightened rabbit on his back to the place where he had been sleeping under the mango tree.

Lion [picking up a mango lying on the ground and letting it drop] Is this the sound you heard? 

Frightened rabbit: Y-y-yes. I think so.

Lion: As you can see, the earth is not collapsing. You only heard the sound of a mango falling.

[He takes the frightened rabbit back to tell the other animals.]

You can return to your homes. There is no danger. This rabbit was only frightened by the sound of a mango falling to the ground.

Narrator: If it were not for the wisdom and calmness of the lion, all the animals might have rushed into the sea and drowned.


  1. Who thought the earth was collapsing?
  2. Why did he think so?
  3. Did he check to see if that idea was true?
  4. Why did the other animals believe that the earth was collapsing?
  5. Who was the Buddha in this story?
  6. What did he do?
  7. What lesson should we learn from this Jataka Tale?