The Bodhisatta was once born as a deer named Nandiya and looked after his parents. The king of Kosala was very fond of hunting, and his subjects, that they might be left in peace, planned to drive deer from the forest into a closed park where the king might hunt. Nandiya, seeing the men come, left his parents in the thicket and joined the deer who were being driven into the park so that his parents might not be seen. The deer agreed each to take his turn in being killed by the king. The Bodhisatta stayed on even in spite of a message brought by a Brahmin from his parents — though he could have escaped. However, he wished to show his gratitude to the king who had supplied the deer with food and drink. When his turn came to be killed, he appeared fearlessly before the king, and by the power of his virtue the king’s bow refused to shoot. The king thereupon realised Nandiya’s goodness and granted him a boon. Nandiya asked for security for all living beings, and established the king in the path of virtue.
The story was related in reference to a monk who was blamed for looking after his parents. However, the Buddha praised him.
The king of the story was Ānanda, and the Brahmin who brought the message was Sāriputta. J.iii.270 ﬀ.