Stories of the Buddha's Former Births
Book 2: Dukanipāta
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."
"'Tis not the fire," etc.— This story the Master told during a stay in Jetavana, about one who hankered after a former wife. The Master asked this Brother, "Is it true, Brother, what I hear, that you are lovesick?" "Yes, Sir." "For whom?" "For my late wife." Then the Master said to him: "This wife, Brother, has been the mischief to you. Long ago by her means you came near being spitted and roasted for food, but wise men saved your life." Then he told a tale of the past.
Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was his chaplain. Some fishermen drew out a Fish which had got caught in their net, and cast it upon hot sand, saying, "We will cook it in the embers, and eat." So they sharpened a spit. And the Fish fell a-weeping over his mate, and said these two verses:
"'Tis not the fire that burns me, nor the spit that hurts me sore;
But the thought my mate may call me a faithless paramour.
"'Tis the flame of love that burns me, and fills my heart with pain;
Not death is the due of loving; O fishers, free me again!"
 At that moment the Bodhisatta approached the river bank; and hearing the Fish's lament, he went up to the fishermen and made them set the Fish at liberty.
This discourse ended, the Master declared the Truths and identified the Birth: — at the conclusion of the Truths the lovesick Brother reached the Fruit of the First Path: — "The wife was in those days the fish's mate, the lovesick Brother was the fish, and I myself was the chaplain."