Cave No. 16
Identification: Foucher (1921, narrative no. 22).—
Once a group of travellers got lost in a forest. They were exhausted and almost close to death, when they met a hastin (elephant) and pleaded with him for help. The elephant, knowing that they would not find food in the oasis, directed them to a rock-bed, where they could find water and a dead elephant’s body. The men went to the place directed by the elephant and found a dead elephant near the water. The travellers realised that the dead elephant was none other than the one they met before; he had sacrificed himself for them. The travellers cremated the elephant with due respect. They concluded that they should not reject his sacrifice and appeased their hunger and refilled their provisions. They made water containers with the elephant’s skin, filled them with water, and were able to cross the desert.—The elephant was none other than the Buddha in a former existence.
—Source: Singh 2019, 31-33; Schlingloff 2013, I, 120-121