The Bodhisatta was once born as stag. The king of Benares went out hunting with his courtiers, who contrived to drive the stag near the king; he shut, the stag rolled over as hit, but soon got up and ran away. The courtiers laughed and the king set off in pursuit of the stag. During the chase he fell into it pit, and the stag, feeling pity for him, drew him out and taught him the Law. On the king's return, he decreed that all his subjects should observe the five virtues. The king told no one of what bad befallen him, but the chaplain, hearing him repeat six stanzas, divined what had happened. He questioned the king, who told him the story.
Many men and women, following the king’s instructions, were reborn in heaven and Sakka, realizing the reason for this, appeared before the king, who was practising shooting, and contrived that he should proclaim the Bodhisatta’s nobility.
The story was told in reference to Sāriputta's wisdom. It is said that, when the Buddha descended from Tāvatimsa after preaching the Abhidhamma, wishing to demonstrate the unique wisdom of Sāriputta, he propounded certain questions before the multitude at Sankassa, which none but Sāriputta could answer. What the Buddha asked in brief Sāriputta answered in detail.
Ananda is identified with the king and Sāriputta with the chaplain (J.iv.263 75). The story is also included in the Jātakamālā (No. 25) as the Sarabha Jātaka.