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 >>Litta-Jātaka

Source: Adapted from Archaic translation by Robert ChalmersEdit



"He bolts the die."--This story was told by the Master while at Jetavana monastery, about using things thoughtlessly.

Tradition says that most of the Brethren(Monks) of that day were in the habit of using robes and so on, which were given them, in a thoughtless manner. And their thoughtless use of the Four necessities as a rule barred their escape from the doom of re-birth in hell and the animal world. Knowing this, the Master set on the lessons of virtue and showed the danger of such thoughtless use of things, advicing them to be careful in the use of the Four necessities, and laying down this rule, "The thoughtful Brother (Monk) has a definite object in view when he wears a robe, namely, to keep off the cold." After laying down similar rules for the other necessities, he concluded by saying, "Such is the thoughtful use which should be made of the Four necessities. Thoughtlessly to use them is like taking deadly poison; and there were those in past days who through their thoughtlessness did inadvertently take poison, to their exceeding hurt in due season." So saying he told this story of the past.

Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisattva was born into a well-to-do family, and when he grew up, he became a dice-player. With him used to play a sharper, who kept on playing while he was winning, but, when luck turned, broke up the game by putting one of the dice in his mouth and pretending it was lost, after which he would take himself off. "Very good," said the Bodhisattva when he realised what was being done; "we'll look into this." So he took some dice, anointed them at home with poison, dried them carefully, and then carried them with him to the sharper, whom he challenged to a game. The other was willing, the dice-board was got ready, and play began. No sooner did the sharper begin to lose than he popped one of the dice into his mouth. Observing him in the act, the Bodhisattva remarked, "Swallow away; you will not fail to find out what it really is in a little time." And he uttered this stanza of rebuke:-

He bolts the die quite boldly, knowing not
What burning poison on that lurks unseen.
Yes, bolt it, sharper! Soon you'll burn within.

But while the Bodhisattva was talking away, the poison began to work on the sharper; he grew faint, rolled his eyes, and bending double with pain fell to the ground. "Now," said the Bodhisattva, "I must save the rascal's life." So he mixed some medicinal herbs and administered a vomiting agent until vomiting followed. Then he administered a portion of ghee (clarified butter) with honey and sugar and other ingredients, and by this means made the fellow all right again. Then he encouraged him not to do such a thing again. After a life spent in charity and other good works, the Bodhisattva passed away to fare thereafter according to his deeds.

His lesson ended, the Master said, "Brethren(Monks), the thoughtless use of things is like the thoughtless taking of deadly poison." So saying, he identified the Birth in these words, "I was myself the wise and good gambler of those days."

(Pali Note. "No mention is made of the sharper, the reason being that, here as elsewhere, no mention is made of persons who are not spoken of at this date.")

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