Cakka-Vaka Jataka (#451)

temple painting of Cakka-Vaka Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a golden goose. A greedy crow grew tired of eating dead elephants in the city and so flew off to see what kinds of food he could get in the forest. But he did not enjoy eating wild fruit, so he went to see what there was at the Ganges River. There he saw the Bodhisatta and his mate. They were exceptionally beautiful, and the crow figured if he ate the same foods as them, he could have their beautiful color. The crow greeted and complimented the Bodhisatta and his mate and asked where to find the fish that they ate, but they explained they only ate weeds. It was their virtuous behavior, never harming other creatures, that gave them their beauty; it had nothing to do with food. The crow decided this was not the life for him and flew back to the city’s dunghill.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The crow was an earlier birth of a disciple of the Buddha who was greedy; during morning alms rounds, he only went to houses that served good meat. One day the Buddha summoned the greedy disciple and told him this story to help him overcome his craving.

The Bodhisatta’s mate was an earlier birth of the Buddha’s wife.

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