Stories of the Buddha’s Former Births

Book 3 Tikanipāta

273. Kacchapa Jātaka

“Who is the one who brings the food”—This story the Master told during a stay in Jetavana, how a quarrel was made up between two magnates of the king’s court in Kosala . The circumstances have been told in the Second Book.

When, however, he formerly governed Benares as Brahmadatta, the Bodhisattva took rebirth in the kingdom of Kasi in a Brahman family. After he had grown up and learned the arts to Takkasilā, he gave up the lusts and went forth as a rishi. In the Himalayas he built a hermitage on the banks of the Ganges. He acquired the knowledge and the accomplishments, and lived there, rejoicing in the happiness of ecstasy.

In this Jātaka, however, the Bodhisattva was extremely indifferent and of great insensitivity. When he was sitting at the door of his foliage hut, a cheeky, insolent monkey came and put his penis in his ear hole. The Bodhisattva did not stop him, but remained quite indifferent.

One day a turtle came out of the water and lay down with the mouth open in the sun. When the greedy monkey saw her, he put his penis into her mouth. Then the turtle woke up and bit him into his penis as if she were throwing it into a box. The monkey got violent pain. As he could not stand his pain, he thought, “Who could free me from this suffering? To whom could I go?” Then the following thought came to him: “Another man is not able to free me from this pain except the ascetic; I have to go to him.”

And he picked up the turtle with both hands and went to the Bodhisattva.The Bodhisattva made a joke with the naughty monkey and said the following first stanza:

“Who is it who brings food?
In full bowl, the Brahmane?
Where did you seek alms,
To what pious did you come?”

When the cheeky monkey heard this, he said the second verse,

“I'm just a silly monkey,
I can not be touched.
Free me and be blessed;
I will go on the mountain.”

Now the Bodhisattva talked with the turtle and said the following third stanza:

“The turtles are Kassapas,
The monkeys of Kondaññas.
Let go, Kassapa, the Kondañña;
You too have engaged in fornication.”

When the turtle heard the words of the Bodhisattva, she was satisfied with it and let go of the monkey's limb. But as soon as the monkey was free again, he showed his worship to the Bodhisattva, and ran away; And in the future he did not even turn to the place to look. The turtle also greeted the Bodhisattva and went back to her place.

But the Bodhisattva, immersed in ecstasy, entered the Brahma world.

When this discourse was ended, the Master declared the Truths and identified the Birth: “The two magnates were the Monkey and Tortoise, and I was the hermit.”