Ambacora Jataka (#344)

temple painting of Ambacora Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once Indra, king of the gods. A wicked ascetic who engaged in various false practices lived in a mango orchard and he collected the ripe fruit to eat and to share with his relatives. One day the Bodhisatta divined this ascetic’s bad behavior and decided to scare him. So when the ascetic was away collecting alms, the Bodhisatta used his magic powers to make all the mangoes disappear, as if they had been taken by thieves. Four daughters of a merchant entered the orchard just before the ascetic returned home, and when he saw them he accused the women of eating all his mangoes. When they denied it, the ascetic told them to take an oath that they were innocent, and each did, so he let them go. Then the Bodhisatta took a terrible form and showed himself to the ascetic, who fled in fear.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The wicked ascetic of the past was an earlier birth of a man who became an ascetic in his old age and built himself a leaf hut in a mango orchard. He also collected the ripe fruit to eat and to share with his relatives. One time while he was out on an alms round some thieves came and stole all his mangoes. After this, four daughters of a wealthy merchant (the four women of the past were earlier births of these four) who had been bathing in the nearby river came into the orchard, and when the ascetic returned home he saw them and accused the women of eating all his mangoes. When they denied it, the ascetic told them to take an oath that they were innocent, and each did, so he let them go.

When the Buddha heard some disciples discussing how the old ascetic had shamed the women by falsely accusing them of theft and making them take an oath, he told them this story so they knew the ascetic had done the same thing in the past.

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