All living creature die to be born again, so the Hindus believe. The Buddha was no exception. Legend has it that several lifetimes as a Bodhisattva went into making of the Buddha, the Enlightened one.
The Bodhisattva came in many forms : man, monkey, deer, elephant, lion. Whatever his mortal body, he spread the message of justice and wisdom, tempered with compassion. This wisdom, the wisdom of right thinking and right living, is preserved in the Jataka tales.