A bodhisattva is a person who consciously works toward enlightenment. Gautama Buddha, in his former lives, is known as a bodhisattva. Jataka Tales depicts the previous incarnations of the Buddha—at various times an animal, a bird, or a human being. A total of 547 stories, the fables impart values of honesty, compassion, and sacrifice.
The Merchant of Seri is a story of two merchants who trade brass and tin ware. One merchant is greedy and dishonest. The other merchant is the bodhisattva. The unscrupulous merchant tries to cheat a poor, old woman and her granddaughter, who do not realize that they possess a golden dish.
The moral and virtuous bodhisattva gives up all that he has in exchange for the golden dish. He sells the dish and makes a good fortune. The greedy merchant laments his loss.
The story has a simple moral: Honesty is the best policy.