Structure of the Tipitaka
To Do
The Tipitaka
Vinaya Pitaka
Sutta Pitaka
Digha Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
Anguttara Nikaya
Khuddaka Nikaya
Abhidhamma Pitaka

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

Source: Adapted from Archaic translation by Robert ChalmersEdit



"The stubborn man."--This story was told by the Master while at Jetavana monastery, about a certain greedy Brother(Monk). His greediness will be told in the Ninth Book in the Kaka-Jataka.

But on this occasion the Brethren(Monks) told the Master, saying, "Sir, this Brother is greedy."

Said the Master, "Is it true as they say, Brother, that you are greedy?" "Yes, sir," was the reply.

"So too in past days, Brother, you were greedy, and by reason of your greediness lost your life; also you caused the wise and good to lose their home." And so saying he told this story of the past.

Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisattva was born a pigeon. Now the Benares folk of those days, as an act of goodness, used to hang up straw-baskets in many places for the shelter and comfort of the birds; and the cook of the Lord High Treasurer of Benares hung up one of these baskets in his kitchen. In this basket the Bodhisattva took up his dwelling, swiftly moving out at daybreak in quest of food, and returning home in the evening; and so he lived his life.

But one day a crow, flying over the kitchen, snuffed up the good flavour from the salt and fresh fish and meat there, and was filled with longing to taste it. Thinking about how to have his will, he perched hard by, and at evening saw the Bodhisattva come home and go into the kitchen. "Ah!" thought he, "I can manage it through the pigeon."

So back he came next day at dawn, and, when the Bodhisattva swiftly moved out in quest of food, kept following him about from place to place like his shadow. So the Bodhisattva said, "Why do you keep with me, friend?"

"My lord," answered the crow, "your appearance has won my admiration; and from now on it is my wish to follow you." "But your kind of food and mine, friend, is not the same," said the Bodhisattva; "you will be hard put to it if you attach yourself to me." "My lord," said the crow, "when you are seeking your food, I will feed too, by your side." "So be it, then," said the Bodhisattva; "only you must be earnest." And with this caution to the crow, the Bodhisattva ranged about pecking up grass-seeds; while the other went about turning over cowdung and picking out the insects underneath till he had got his fill. Then back he came to the Bodhisattva and remarked, "My lord, you give too much time to eating; excess in that should be shunned."

And when the Bodhisattva had fed and reached home again at evening, in flew the crow with him into the kitchen .

"Why, our bird has brought another home with him;" exclaimed the cook, and hung up a second basket for the crow. And from that time onward the two birds lived together in the kitchen.

Now one day the Lord High Treasurer had in a store of fish which the cook hung up about the kitchen. Filled with greedy longing at the sight, the crow made up his mind to stay at home next day and treat himself to this excellent treat.

So all the night long he lay groaning away; and next day, when the Bodhisattva was starting in search of food, and cried, "Come along, friend crow," the crow replied, "Go without me, my lord; for I have a pain in my stomach." "Friend," answered the Bodhisattva, "I never heard of crows having pains in their stomachs before. True, crows feel faint in each of the three night-watches; but if they eat a lamp-wick, their hunger is appeased for the moment. You must be yearning after the fish in the kitchen here. Come now, man's food will not agree with you. Do not give way like this, but come and seek your food with me." "Indeed, I am not able, my lord," said the crow. "Well, your own conduct will show," said the Bodhisattva. "Only fall not a prey to greed, but stand devoted." And with this advice, away he flew to find his daily food.

The cook took several kinds of fish, and dressed some one way, some another. Then lifting the lids off his saucepans a little to let the steam out, he put a perforated bowl on the top of one and went outside the door, where he stood wiping the sweat from his brow. Just at that moment out popped the crow's head from the basket. A glance told him that the cook was away, and, "Now or never," thought he, "is my time. The only question is shall I choose minced meat or a big lump?" Arguing that it takes a long time to make a full meal of minced meat, he resolved to take a large piece of fish and sit and eat it in his basket. So out he flew and descended on the perforated bowl. "Click" went the perforated bowl.

"What can that be?" said the cook, running in on hearing the noise. Seeing the crow, he cried, "Oh, there's that rascally crow wanting to eat my master's dinner. I have to work for my master, not for that rascal! What's he to me, I should like to know?" So, first shutting the door, he caught the crow and plucked every feather off his body. Then, he pounded up ginger with salt and cumin, and mixed in sour butter-milk--finally wrapping the crow in the pickle and throwing him back into his basket. And there the crow lay groaning, overcome by the agony of his pain.

At evening the Bodhisattva came back, and saw the miserable plight of the crow. "Ah! greedy crow," he exclaimed, "you would not regard my words, and now your own greed has worked for your suffering." So saying, he repeated this stanza:-

The stubborn man who, when encouraged, pays
No regard to friends who kindly advice give,
Shall surely perish, like the greedy crow,
Who laughed to contempt the pigeon's warning words.

Then, exclaiming "I too can no longer dwell here," the Bodhisattva flew away. But the crow died there and then, and the cook throw him, basket and all, on the dust-heap.

Said the Master, "You were greedy, Brother, in past times, just as you are now; and all because of your greediness the wise and good of those days had to abandon their homes." Having ended this lesson, the Master preached the Four Truths, at the close of which that Brother(Monk) won the Fruit of the Second Path(Trance). Then the Master explained the relation and identified the Birth as follows:-"The greedy Brother was the crow of those times, and I the pigeon."

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