Stories of the Buddha’s Former Births
Book 1 Ekanipāta
13. Kandina Jātaka
“Cursed be the dart of love.”—This story was told by the Master while at Jetavana about the temptation caused to Brethren by the wives of their mundane life. This will be related in the Indriya-jataka in the Eighth Book. Said the Blessed One to the Brother, “Brother, it was because of this very woman that in bygone days you met your death and were roasted over glowing embers.” The Brethren asked the Blessed One to explain this. The Blessed One made clear what had been concealed from them by re-birth.
(Henceforth we shall omit the words respecting the Brethren’s request for an explanation and the making clear what had been concealed by re-birth; and we shall only say “told this story of the past.” When only this is said, all the rest is to be supplied and repeated as above,—the request, the simile of setting free the moon from the clouds, and the making clear what had been concealed by re-birth.)
Once on a time in the kingdom of Magadha the king was reigning in Rajagaha, and when the crops were grown the deer were exposed to great perils, so that they retired to the forest. Now a certain mountain-stag of the forest, having become attached to a doe who came from near a village, was moved by his love for her to accompany her when the deer returned home from the forest. Said she, “You, sir, are but a simple stag of the forest, and the neighbourhood of villages is beset with peril and danger.
When they knew that it was the time for the deer to cone down from the hills, the Magadha folk posted themselves in ambush by the road; and a hunter was lying in wait just by the road along which the pair were travelling. Scenting a man, the young doe suspected that a hunter was in ambush, and let the stag go on first, following herself at some distance. With a single arrow the hunter laid the stag low, and the doe seeing him struck was off like the wind. Then that hunter came forth from his hiding place and skinned the stag and lighting a fire cooked the sweet flesh over the embers. Having eaten and drunk, he took off home the remainder of the bleeding carcass on his carrying-pole to regale his children.
Now in those clays the Bodhisatta was a fairy dwelling in that very grove of trees, and he marked what had come to pass. “’Twas not father or mother, but passion alone that destroyed this foolish deer . The dawn of passion is bliss, but its end is sorrow and suffering,—the painful loss of hands, and the misery of the five forms of bonds and blows. To cause another’s death is accounted infamy in this world; infamous too is the land which owns a woman’s sway and rule; and infamous are the men who yield themselves to women’s dominion.” And therewithal, while the other fairies of the wood applauded and offered perfumes and flowers and the like in homage, the Bodhisatta wove the three infamies into a single stanza, and made the wood re-echo with his sweet tones as he taught the truth in these lines:
Cursed be the dart of love that works men pain!
Cursed be the land where women rule supreme!
And cursed the fool that bows to woman’s sway!
His lesson ended, the Master preached the Four Truths, at the close whereof the love-sick Brother was established in the Fruit of the First Path. Having told the two stories, the Master shewed the connexion linking the two together, and identified the Birth.
(Henceforward, we shall omit the words ‘Having told the two stories,’ and simply say ‘shewed the connexion…;’ the words omitted are to be supplied as before.)
“In those days,” said the Master, “the love-sick Brother was the mountain-stag; his mundane wife was the young doe, and I was myself the fairy who preached the Truth shewing the sin of passion.”