Jataka Tale: The Wise And Fast Goose

Characters: Wise goose, 2 young geese, king, 4 archers, king’s assistants


Once the Buddha was born as a goose living on a mountain with many other geese. One day he flew over the king’s palace.

King [to his assistants]: What a beautiful goose! How quickly he flies! Please call him here.

Assistants: Please come down, dear goose. The king wants to meet you.

Wise Goose [to king]: Yes, sire. Here I am.

King: I was so happy to see you flying over my palace that I want to give you presents. [to assistants] Give him golden bowls and delicious fruit. [they do]

Wise Goose: You are very kind, Sahib. I will always consider you my friend.

Narrator: One day, two young geese decided to race with the sun.

Young goose 1: I’m very quick. I can fly faster than the sun!

Young goose 2: So can I!

Wise goose: The sun is too fast for you. You will never catch up with the sun.

Young geese: Surely we can!

Narrator: For many hours they kept trying to fly faster than the sun, but they could not.

Young goose 1: Please help us, brother!

Young goose 2: We are so tired and weak that we can fly no more. We may fall to the ground.

Wise goose: Climb on my back. I will save you.

Narrator: After the wise goose carried them to safety, he himself raced with the sun, and he won.

Wise goose [to the king]: My friend, I have raced against the sun, and I won.

King: How fantastic! Show me!

Wise goose: Instead of that, do this: Call your four best archers.

King [to his assistants]: Call my best archers here.

Wise goose [to the archers]: Each of you stand on four different sides and shoot an arrow as fast and as far as you can. When the king tells you, all of you should shoot your arrows at the same time.

King: Ready? Shoot!

Narrator: As soon as the archers shot their arrows, the wise goose flew as fast as lightning and caught each of the arrows in his beak.

Wise goose [lays the arrows at the king’s feet]: Here you are, my friend.

King: Such amazing speed!! Is there anything that flies faster than you?

Wise goose: Only time flies faster than me. Time can take away all pleasures, all riches, and all beings from the world.

King: I am so frightened to think of this!

Wise goose: Never mind. Just keep on doing good and helping the people.

King: Will you please stay here and help me rule my country?

Wise goose: No, my friend. You are very kind, but I must fly on.

[Source: Jataka Tale number 476]