Prince Siddhartha was very kind to people, animals and other living things. He was also a very brave horseman and won many prizes in the country. Although he did not have to suffer any hardships and difficulties, as he had everything, he always thought of the poor people and living things who were working hard to make him happy. He felt sorry for them and wanted to make them happy too.
One day he was walking in the woods with his cousin Devadatta, who had brought his bow and arrows with him. Suddenly, Devadatta saw a swan flying and shot at it. His arrow brought the swan down. Both the boys ran to get the bird. As Siddhartha could run faster than Devadatta, he reached the swan’s injured body first and found, to his surprise, that it was still alive. He gently pulled out the arrow from the wing. He then got a little juice from cool leaves, put it on the wound to stop the bleeding and with his soft hand stroked the swan, which was very frightened. When Devadatta came to claim the swan, Prince Siddhartha refused to give it to him. Devadatta was very angry to see his cousin keeping the swan away from him. “Give me my bird! I shot it down,” said Devadatta.
“No, I am not going to give it to you,” said the Prince. “If you had killed it, it would have been yours. But now, since it is only wounded but still alive, it belongs to me.”
Devadatta still did not agree. Then Siddhartha suggested, “Let us go to the court of the Sage and ask him who really owns the swan.” Devadatta agreed, so off they went to the court of the Sage to tell him about their quarrel.
The Sage, hearing both boys’ version of the story, said, “A life certainly must belong to he who tries to save it, a life cannot belong to one who is only trying to destroy it.