Cave No. 17
Identification: Foucher (1921, narrative no. 9).—
There lived a king of the mṛgas (antelopes) with his herd in a Himalayan forest. One day, in a battle with the king of that country, his herd and a few neighbouring herds were encircled and could not escape. In order to prevent a mass slaughter, the antelope king visited the king and struck a deal; an antelope would be sent daily to the royal kitchen, with each herd taking turns. After a while, the head of the second herd selected a pregnant antelope for the king, in spite her request to be spared ill the birth of her child. The pregnant one thus went to the antelope king with her plea. As he considered it unfair to place a substitute from his own herd out of turn, he presented himself at the royal kitchen. The cook, recognising him, reported it to the king. The king, amazed, himself went and asked him whether his herd had already perished, to which the antelope king reverted the plea of the pregnant antelope. The king was so stirred that he banned antelope hunting in his kingdom and gave a lifetime assurance to all antelopes.—The antelope king was none other than the Buddha in a former existence.
—Source: Singh 2019, 31-33; Schlingloff 2013, I, 102