Once child Gautam Buddha, then known as Siddharth, went to his father's farm. During recess he was resting under a tree enjoying the peace and beauty of the nature. While so seated a bird fell from the sky just in front of him. The bird had been shot at by an arrow which had pierced its body and was fluttering about in great agony.
Siddharth rushed to help the bird. He removed the arrow, dressed its wound and gave it water to drink. He picked up the bird, came to the place where he was seated and wrapped up the bird in his upper garment and held it next to his chest to give it warmth.
Siddharth was wondering who could have shot this innocent bird. Before long there came his cousin Devadatta armed with all the implements of shooting. He told Siddharth that he had shot a bird flying in the sky, the bird was wounded but it flew some distance and fell somewhere there, and asked him if he had seen it. Siddharth replied in the affirmative and showed him the bird which had by that time completely recovered.
Devadatta demanded that the bird be handed over to him. This Siddharth refused to do. A sharp argument ensued between the two. Devadatta argued that he was the owner of the bird because by the rules of the game, he who kills a game becomes the owner of the game. Siddharth denied the validity of the rule. He argued that it is only he who protects that has the right to claim ownership. How can he who wants to kill be the owner? Neither party would yield. The matter was referred to arbitration. The arbitrator upheld the point of view of Siddharth Gautama.
Devadatta became his permanent enemy. But Gautama's spirit of compassion was so great that he preferred to save the life of an innocent bird to securing the goodwill of his cousin.
Such were the traits of character found in the early life of Siddharth Gautama.
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