Stories of the Buddha's Former Births
Book 9: Navanipāta
Translated from the Pāli by
H.T. Francis, M.A., Sometime Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, and
R.A. Neil, M.A., Fellow of Pembroke College
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."
"Lo! countless trees," etc. — This story the Master dwelling at Jetavana told concerning the Verañjā section. When the Master after passing the rainy season at Verañjā in due course arrived at Sāvatthi, the Brethren in the Hall of Truth raised a discussion saying, "Sirs, a Tathāgata, a delicately nurtured kshatriya and Buddha, though possessed of supernatural powers, at the invitation of a brahmin of Verañjā stayed three months with him, and when owing to the temptation of Māra he failed to receive an alms at the hands of the brahmin, even for a single day, he gave up all covetous ways, and keeping in the same place for three months lived on water and a modicum of the ground flour of roots. Oh the contented nature of Tathāgatas!" When the Master came and on inquiry learned the nature of their discussion he said, "It is no marvel, Brethren, that a Tathāgata now has lost all covetousness, seeing that formerly when born in an animal form he forsook covetousness." And hereupon he told a story of the past. The whole story is now to be related in detail in exactly the same way as in the preceding tale.
Lo! countless trees are here, all green and fruitful see!
Why, parrot, dost thou cling to this poor withered tree?
Long years we have enjoyed the luscious fruit it bare,
And tho' it now has none, it still should claim our care.
Nor leaves nor fruit it yields, alas! the tree is dead:
Why blame thy fellow-birds, that they should all have fled?
They loved it for its fruit, and now that it has none,
Poor selfish fools! their love and gratitude is gone.
Thy gratitude I own, thy true and constant love,
Sure virtue such as this the wise will aye approve.
I offer thee, O bird, whate'er thou wilt for choice;
Tell me, I pray, what boon would most thy heart rejoice?
Would that this tree alight bear fresh leaves and fruit again;
I would be glad as they that treasure trove obtain.
Then was the tree by Sakka with ambrosia sprinkled o'er,
And boughs sprang up with cooling shade, as lovely as before.
May Sakka and all loved by Sakka blesséd be,
As I to-day am blest this joyous sight to see.
Thus was the tree made fruitful by the parrot's grateful choice,
And Sakka and his queen in groves of Nandana rejoice.
 The Master, his lesson ended, identified the Birth: "In those days Sakka was Anuruddha, the parrot king was myself."
 See Vinaya, Pār. i. 1-4.