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Buddhadharma : Winter 2017
116 Buddhadharma: The PracTiTioner's QuarTerly “rehabilitation” of animals and arguably contain “an incipient Buddhist theory of animal rights” that considerably compli- cates the uniformly bleak depiction of ani- mals introduced earlier. Finally, in “Animal Doubles of the Bud- dha,” Ohnuma offers rich reflections on stories about animals intimately related to the Bodhisattva in his final life, in which he becomes the Buddha. One example is the Bodhisattva’s horse Kanthaka, who car- ries his master into his “great retirement” from lay life. In some versions of the tale, instructed by the renunciant prince to return to Kapilavastu, Kanthaka obediently returns to the capital, where he becomes a “scapegoat” for the Buddha, blamed by the populace and the Buddha’s distraught family for the prince’s abandonment of his kingdom. Heartbroken and reviled, he soon dies—only to be reborn as a god in heaven and eventually attain nirvana. In her conclusion, Ohnuma stresses the complexity and ambivalence of the Indian Buddhist attitude toward animals, which seems to oscillate between a recognition of radical difference and a feeling of kinship and identity, the former predominating when the attainment of liberation is the concern, the latter when ethics come to the fore. Because Buddhism always balances these two sides—the quest for spiritual freedom and compassionate engagement with others—the discussion of animals in tradition provides a lens through which we may clearly view the problems and principles articulated by the Buddha and his early followers. As Ohnuma writes, “While animals remained distinct from human beings through their lack of lan- guage, animals themselves became a lan- guage through which Buddhist authors could speak—and on occasion, animals themselves could be heard.” deeds to comment on the human realm but often reflect specifically on human mis- treatment of animals. For instance, in the Salaka Jataka, a monkey tired of abuse by his human owner manages to escape into a mango tree. When the man attempts to lure him down with flattery and promises of a better life at home, the monkey replies: You think of me as a “friend,” And yet you beat me with a bamboo staff! I’ll enjoy myself in this grove of ripe mangoes. You can go home, if you wish. Amid fascinating asides on the talking- pig movie Babe and the late-nineteenth- century American penchant for publicly executing “bad” captive elephants, Ohnuma analyzes a number of Jatakas that provide “a Buddhist voice speaking up in defense of animals.” The animals in these tales use their wits to evade capture and slaughter, and their words and actions amount to a sharp critique of the human penchant for hunting, capturing, abusing, killing, and eating their fellow sentient beings. The section titled “Animal Saviors” focuses on stories in which animals— “not only clever, but virtuous”—rescue humans from either physical or moral peril. Those who compassionately res- cue lost or stranded humans often are rewarded by betrayal and death, but not before they can raise the question “How wicked can a human being possibly be?” In other stories, animals captured by kings display such eloquence and moral clarity that they actually persuade their captors to afford just and merciful treatment to both humans and animals within the king- dom and, in one case, encourage a king to take up the five lay Buddhist precepts. These tales, says Ohnuma, complete the