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The Jātaka:
or
Stories of the Buddha's Former Births
Volume II

Book 2: Dukanipāta

No. 173

Makkaṭa-Jātaka

Translated from the Pāli by
W.H.D Rouse, M.A., Sometime Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge
Under the Editorship of Professor E. B. Cowell
Published 1969 For the Pāli Text Society.
First Published by The Cambridge University Press in 1895

This work is in the Public Domain. The Pali Text Society owns the copyright."

 


 

[68] "Father, see! a poor old fellow," etc. — This story the Master told whilst staying in Jetavana, about a rogue. — The circumstances will be explained in the Uddāla Birth[1], Book xiv. Here too the Master said, "Brethren, not this once only has the fellow turned out a rogue; in days of yore, when he was a monkey, he played tricks for the sake of a fire." And he told a tale of days long gone by.

 


 

Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born in a brahmin family in a village of Kāsi. When he came of years, he received his education at Takkasilā, and settled down in life.

His lady in time bore him a son; and when the child could just run to and fro, she died. The husband performed her obsequies, and then, said he, "What is home to me now? I and my son will live the life of hermits." Leaving his friends and kindred in tears, he took the lad to the Himalaya, became a religious anchorite, and lived on the fruits and roots which the forest yielded.

On a day during the rainy season, when there had been a downpour, he kindled some sticks, and lay down on a pallet, warming himself at the fire. And his son sat beside him chafing his feet.

Now a wild Monkey, miserable with cold, spied the fire in the leaf-hut of our hermit. "Now," thought he, "suppose I go in: they'll cry out Monkey! Monkey! and beat me back: I shan't get a chance of warming myself. — I have it!" he cried. "I'll get an ascetic's dress, and get inside by a trick!" So he put on the bark dress of a dead ascetic, lifted his basket and crooked stick, and took his stand by the hut door, where he crouched down beside a palm tree. The lad saw him, and cried to his father (not knowing he was a monkey) "Here's an old hermit, sure enough, miserably cold, come to warm himself at the fire." [69] Then he addressed his father in the words of the first stanza, begging him to let the poor fellow in to warm himself:

"Father, see! a poor old fellow huddled by a palmtree there!
Here we have a hut to live in; let us give the man a share."

[48] When the Bodhisatta heard this, up he got and went to the door but when he saw the creature was only a monkey, he said, "My son, men have no such face as that; 'tis a monkey, and he must not be asked in here." Then he repeated the second stanza:

"He would but defile our dwelling if he came inside the door;
Such a face — 'tis easy telling — no good brahmin ever bore."

The Bodhisatta seized a brand, crying--"What do you want there?" — threw it at him, and drove him away. Mr Monkey dropt his bark garments, sprang up a tree, and buried himself in the forest.

Then the Bodhisatta cultivated the Four Excellences until he came unto Brahma's heaven.

 


 

When the Master had ended this discourse, he identified the Birth: "This tricky Brother was the Monkey of those days; Rāhula[2] was the hermit's son, and I myself was the hermit." '

 


[1] No. 487.

[2] Gotama Buddha's son.

 


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