Anusasika Jataka (#115)

temple painting of Anusasika Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a bird. He was the leader of thousands of other birds, including one who was both brave and greedy. She went to feed on beans, rice, and other grains that fell off wagons along a busy road, and wanted to keep this food for herself. She warned the others how dangerous the road was because of passing wagons, oxen, horses, elephants, and the like. All the other birds listened to her advice and stayed away. Then one day, while feeding on this road, the greedy bird was run over by a carriage. When she was absent from the morning muster the next day, the Bodhisatta sent some birds to search for her. They found her mangled body. The Bodhisatta told his flock that her death was due to being greedy.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The greedy bird was an earlier birth of a gluttonous disciple who took morning alms in a part of the city where people gave fancy food. Wanting to keep all this fine food for herself, she warned the other disciples it was a dangerous area with a fierce elephant, horse, and dog that menaced people. Her scheme worked, and no other disciples went there. Then, one day while out for alms in that place, a ram butted the greedy disciple and she broke her leg.

When the Buddha heard other disciples discussing her accident, he told them this story so they knew that she had also come to harm in the past after some similarly greedy deceit.

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