Sacred Texts  Buddhism  Index  Previous  Next 

The Jataka, Vol. III, tr. by H.T. Francis and R.A. Neil, [1897], at

No. 394.


"Oil and butter," etc.—The Master told this while dwelling in Jetavana, concerning a greedy Brother. Finding that he was greedy the Master said to him, "This is not the first time you are greedy: once before through greed in Benares you were not satisfied with carcases of elephants, oxen, horses and men; and in hopes of getting better food you went to the forest;" and so he told an old tale.

Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as a quail and lived in the forest on rude grass and seeds. At the time there was in Benares a greedy crow who, not content with carcases of elephants and other animals, went to the forest in hopes of better food: eating wild fruits there he saw the Bodhisatta and thinking "This quail is very fat: I fancy he eats sweet food, I will ask

p. 195

him of his food and eating it become fat myself," he perched on a bough above the Bodhisatta. The Bodhisatta [313], without being asked, gave him greeting and spoke the first stanza:—

Oil and butter are your victuals, nuncle; rich your food, I trow:
Tell me then what is the reason of your leanness, master crow.

Hearing his words the crow spoke three stanzas:—

I dwell in midst of many foes, my heart goes pit-a-pat
In terror as I seek my food: how can a crow be fat?

Crows spend their lives in fear, their wits for mischief ever keen;
The bits they pick are not enough; good quail, that's why I'm lean.

Rude grass and seeds are all your food: there's little richness there:
Then tell me why you're fat, good quail, on such a scanty fare.

The Bodhisatta hearing him spoke these stanzas, explaining the reason of his fatness:—

I have content and easy mind, short distances to go,
I live on anything I get, and so I'm fat, good crow.

Content of mind, and happiness with little care of heart,
A standard easily attained: that life's the better part.

[314] After the lesson, the Master declared the Truths, and identified the Birth:—At the end of the Truths the Brother was established in the fruition of the First Path: "At that time the crow was the greedy Brother, the quail was myself."

Next: No. 395.: Kāka-Jātaka.