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Tipitaka >> Sutta Pitaka >> Khuddaka Nikaya >> Jataka >>Godha-Jātaka

Source: Adapted from Archaic translation by Robert ChalmersEdit


JATAKA No. 138

GODHA-JATAKA

"With matted hair."--This story was told by the boaster while at Jetavana monastery, about a hypocrite. The incidents were like those above explained (*1).


Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisattva was born a lizard; and in a but hard by a village on the borders there lived a rigid ascetic who had attained the Five Knowledges, and was treated with great respect by the villagers. In an ant-hill at the end of the walk where the hermit paced up and down, lived the Bodhisattva, and twice or thrice each day he would go to the hermit and hear words of the righteous path and holiness. Then with due reverence to the good man, the Bodhisattva would depart to his own dwelling. After a certain time the ascetic said farewell to the villagers and went away. In his stead there came another ascetic, a rascally fellow, to dwell in the hermitage. Assuming the holiness of the new-comer, the Bodhisattva acted towards him as to the first ascetic. One day an unexpected storm in the dry season brought out the ants on their hills, and the lizards, coming abroad to eat them, were caught in great numbers by the village folk; and some were served up with vinegar and sugar for the ascetic to eat. Pleased with so tasty a dish, he asked what it was, and learned that it was a dish of lizards. On this he thought that he had a remarkably fine lizard as his neighbour, and resolved to dine off him. Accordingly he made ready the pot for cooking and sauce to serve the lizard in, and sat at the door of his hut with a club hidden under his yellow robe, awaiting the Bodhisattva's coming, with a studied air of perfect peace. At evening the Bodhisattva came, and as he came near, noticed that the hermit did not seem quite the same, but had a look about him that predicted no good. Snuffing up the wind which was blowing towards him from the hermit's cell, the Bodhisattva smelt the smell of lizard's flesh, and at once realised how the taste of lizard had made the ascetic want to kill him with a club and eat him up. So he retired homeward without calling on the ascetic. Seeing that the Bodhisattva did not come, the ascetic judged that the lizard must have foreseen his plot, but marvelled how he could have discovered it. Determined that the lizard should not escape, he brought out the club and threw it, just hitting the tip of the lizard's tail. Quick as thought the Bodhisattva rushed into his refuge, and putting his head out by a different hole to that by which he had gone in, cried, "Rascally hypocrite, your garb of piety led me to trust you, but now I know your villainous nature. What has a thief like you to do with hermit's clothing?" Thus scolding the false ascetic, the Bodhisattva recited this stanza:-

With matted hair and garb of skin
  Why follow the ascetic's piety?
A saint without, your heart within
  Is choked with foul impurity (*2).

In this wise did the Bodhisattva expose the wicked ascetic, after which he retired into his ant-hill. And the wicked ascetic departed from that place.


His lesson ended, the Master identified the Birth by saying, "The hypocrite was the wicked ascetic of those days, Sariputra the good ascetic who lived in the hermitage before him, and I myself the lizard."

Footnotes:

(1)Apparently No. (128).

(2)Dhammapada v. 394.

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