Baveru Jataka (#339)

temple painting of Baveru Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a peacock. Some merchants sailed to a kingdom that had no birds. The people there saw a crow perched on the ship’s mast and were enchanted by its beauty, so they bought it for one hundred coins and kept it in a golden cage. The crow attained great gain and glory. The next time the merchants sailed to this land they brought the Bodhisatta, who had been trained to sing at the snapping of fingers and to dance at the clapping of hands. The people bought him for one thousand coins and put him in a cage decorated with the seven precious jewels. The Bodhisatta earned even greater gain and glory and people lost all interest in the crow, so it flew away and lived on a dunghill.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The crow was an earlier birth of the Jain leader Nigantha Nathaputta. When the Buddha heard some of his disciples discussing how religious leaders like him lost gain and glory after the Buddha began teaching the truth, he told them this story so they knew that in the past those with little virtue but abundant honor also came to their right result after someone arrived who was endowed with genuine virtue.

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