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Source: Adapted from Archaic translation by Robert ChalmersEdit

JATAKA No. 117


"As died the partridge bird."--This story was told by the Master while at Jetavana monastery, about Kokalika, whose story will be found in the Thirteenth Book in the Takkariya Jataka (*1).

Said the Master, "As now, Brethren(Monks), so also in former times, Kokalika's tongue has worked his destruction."

So saying, he told this story of the past.

Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisattva was born a brahmin in the North country. When he grew up, he received a complete education at Taxila, and, renouncing Lusts, gave up the world to become a hermit. He won the Five Knowledges and the Eight Attainments, and all the hermits of the Himalayas to the number of five hundred assembled together and followed him as their master.

Insight was his as he lived amid his disciples in the Himalayas.

In those days there was an ascetic suffering from jaundice who was chopping wood with an axe. And a chattering Brother(Monk) came and sat by him, and directed his work, asking him give here a chop and there a chop, till the jaundiced ascetic lost his temper. In a rage he cried, "Who are you to teach me how to chop wood?" and lifting up his keen-edged axe stretched the other dead with a single blow. And the Bodhisattva had the body buried.

Now on an ant-hill hard by the hermitage there lived a partridge bird which early and late was always piping on the top of the ant-hill. Recognising the note of a partridge bird, a sportsman killed the bird and took it off with him. Missing the bird's note, the Bodhisattva asked the hermits why they did not hear their neighbour the partridge bird now. Then they told him what had happened, and he linked the two events together in this stanza:-

As died the partridge bird for her clamorous cry,
So idle talk and chatter doomed this fool to die.

Having developed within himself the four Perfect States, the Bodhisattva thus became destined to rebirth in the Brahma Realm(Upper Heaven).

Said the Master, "Brethren(Monks), as now, so also in former days Kokalika's tongue has worked his destruction." And at the close of this lesson he identified the Birth by saying, "Kokalika was the meddling ascetic of those days, my followers the band of hermits, and I their master."


(1)No. 481. Kokalika was one of Devadatta's schemers.

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