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

Source: Adapted from Archaic translation by W.H.D. RouseEdit

JATAKA No. 161


"Friendship with evil," etc.--This is a story told by the Master while at Jetavana monastery, about a stubborn person; and the circumstances will be found in the Vulture Birth (*1), of the Ninth Book. The Master said to this Brother(Monk)--"In olden days, as now, you were trampled to death by a mad elephant because you were so stubborn and careless of wise men's advice." And he told the old story.

Once upon a time, while Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisattva was born of a brahmin family. On growing up he left his worldly home and took to the religious(hermit)life, and in time became the leader of a company of five hundred hermits, who all lived together in the region of Himalaya.

Amongst these hermits was a stubborn and unteachable person named Indasamanagotta. He had a pet elephant. The Bodhisattva sent for him when he found this out, and asked if he really did keep a young elephant? Yes, the man said, he had an elephant which had lost its mother. "Well," the Bodhisattva said, "when elephants grow up they kill even those who raise them; so you had better not keep it any longer." "But I can't live without him, my teacher!" was the reply. "Oh, well," said the Bodhisattva, "you'll live to repent it."

However he still reared the creature, and within due course it grew to an immense size.

It happened once that the hermits had all gone far to field to gather roots and fruits in the forest, and they were absent for several days. At the first breath of the south wind this elephant fell in a frenzy.

"Destruction to this hut!" thought he, "I'll smash the water-jar! I'll overturn the stone bench! I'll tear up the straw mattress! I'll kill the hermit, and then off I'll go!" So he ran into the jungle, and waited watching for their return.

The master came first, laden with food for his pet. As soon as he saw him, he moved fast up, thinking all was well (*2). Out rushed the elephant from the thick vegetation, and seizing him in his trunk, dashed him to the ground, then with a blow on the head crushed the life out of him; and madly trumpeting, he ran into the forest.

The other hermits brought this news to the Bodhisattva. Said he, "We should have no dealings with the bad;" and then he repeated these two verses:-

  "Friendship with evil let the good avoid,
     The good, who know what duty makes them do:
   They will work mischief, be it soon or late,
     Even as the elephant had his master killed."
  "But if a familiar spirit you shall see,
     In virtue, wisdom, learning like to you,
   Choose such an one to be your own true friend;
     Good friends and blessing go in company."

In this way the Bodhisattva showed his band of hermits that it is well to be docile and not obstinate. Then he performed Indasamanagotta's funeral rites, and cultivating the Excellences, came at last into Brahma's upper heaven.

After concluding this discourse, the Master identified the Birth: "This unruly fellow was then Indasamanagotta, and I was myself the teacher of the hermit band."


(1)Gijjha-jataka, No. 427.

(2)Or, "with his usual greeting, or signal."

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