The Bodhisatta was once Indra, king of the gods. A wicked ascetic who engaged in many false practices lived in a mango orchard. He collected the ripe fruit to eat and to share with his relatives. One day the Bodhisatta divined this ascetic’s bad behavior and wanted to scare him. When the ascetic was away collecting alms, the Bodhisatta used his magic powers to make all the mangoes disappear, as if thieves had stolen them. 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. When the ascetic returned home, he saw the women and accused them 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 of his 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 that the ascetic had done the same thing in the past.