Sacred Texts Buddhist Articles Index Previous Next


   "We have done thee a service". This the Master related, while living at Jetavana, concerning Devadatta's p. 36 ingratitude, etc. "Not only now, O bhikkhus, (but) also in former existences Devadatta was ungrateful", so having said be related a tale:

   In (times) past, when Brahmadatta reigned in Báráṇasí, Bodhisatta was born in the region of Himavanta as a Rukkhakoṭṭhaka-bird. Now (it happened that) while a Lion was eating flesh, a bone stuck in (his) throat. The throat swelled, he is unable to take food, vehement are the pains (which afflict him). Then the bird, (as he was) looking out for food, perched upon a branch, seeing him, asked: "friend, what ails thee?" He told the cause. "I might, friend, free thee of that bone, but by (reason of my) fear I dare not enter thy mouth, (for) thou mightst eat me". "Don't be afraid, friend, I will not eat thee, (pray) save my life". He, (having answered) "well then!" (and) having caused him to p. 37 lie down on (his) left side, (but) thinking: who knows what this (fellow) will do, (and therefore) having placed a small stick between his under- and upper-jaw, so that he could not close (his) mouth, entered (his) mouth and struck one end of the bone with (his) beak. The bone dropped and fell out. He, after having caused the bone to fall, going out of the lion's mouth, and causing also the small stick to fan by striking it with (his) beak, having gone out, sat down upon a branch. The lion, having got well, one day, having killed a forest-buffalo, eats (it). The bird, thinking: I will sound him, sat down on a branch above him and conversing with him pronounced the first stanza:

1. "We have done thee a service
(according to) what power we had:
King of animals! homage to thee!
Shall we get anything (from thee)?"

Having heard this, the lion pronounced the second stanza:

p. 38

2. "As I feed on blood
(and) always hunt for prey,
it (is) much that thou still livest,
having got in between (my) teeth!"

Having heard this, the bird pronounced the two other stanzas:

3. "An ingrate, who does no (good),
(and) does not return what has been done (to him),
in whom there is no gratitude,--
to serve him is useless.
4. Whose friendship is not acquired
by a manifest (good) deed,
from him softly (one) should draw back
not envying (him and) not abusing (him)".

Thus having spoken that bird flew away.

   The Master having given this moral instruction, he summed up the Játaka thus: At that time the Lion was Devadatta and the Bird I. The Javasakuṇa-Birth.