I remember an image of the Buddha being surrounded by animals. I think the story is that they all flocked around after his enlightenment though I could be wrong. Does anyone know what the story is that goes with this picture and where if anywhere it is in the Buddhist texts. Also if someone can point me to a particularly good picture I would be grateful.

My motivation for asking this is I'm due to run a family afternoon in my local centre and my idea is to get the children making clay animals (with googly eyes) that we can then arrange arround a Buddha to recreate this scene. Then we will all eat some cake!

Many Thanks


1 Answer 1


An image (a painting) of the Buddha with many animals is the subject of the children's story, The Cat Who Went to Heaven.

Some of the animal vignettes in this are each taken from a traditional story (e.g. Buddha and swan, and e.g. Buddha and Banyan deer).

The painting is of the following scene:

When he was eighty, he knew he was near death, and he saw the skies open and all the Hindu gods of the heavens, and of the trees, and the mountains, with his disciples, and the animals of the earth came to bid him farewell.

I don't know whether that scene is from any traditional story (I don't think it's a Pali sutta).

  • You're right. It was the Buddha's parinirvana not enlightenment. Thanks for that Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 9:20
  • According to Wikipedia the author "traveled to the Orient, riding horseback through the Philippines, exploring Indonesia and China, and sleeping in a Buddhist monastery. These travels would later influence her writing." And so maybe she found the story (or the picture) there (unless she made it up herself, maybe not since about an orthodoxy regarding cats). The story is set in Japan. The story was written in 1930, and maybe early American Buddhism would have likely been Chinese or Japanese.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 9:49
  • But then again it says "all the Hindu gods of the heavens" so, I don't know. There are Hindus in that area of the world too (a place like Singapore for example has all kinds of temples co-existing in one place, i.e. Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, and Hindu).
    – ChrisW
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 10:24

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