Godha Jataka (#325)

temple painting of Godha Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a lizard. One day an ascetic moved into the forest near the Bodhisatta’s home. Assuming he was a proper holy man, the Bodhisatta visited the ascetic regularly to pay respect. One time a supporter of the ascetic gave him some lizard meat to eat, and he liked it so much he wanted to eat the Bodhisatta. The ascetic prepared the ingredients he would need for cooking (ghee, curds, condiments, and the like) and sat at the door of his leaf hut with a mallet hidden under his robe, waiting for the Bodhisatta to come.

When the Bodhisatta arrived, he noticed that something about the ascetic was not right and guessed what his plan was. He walked downwind, and the ascetic’s scent confirmed his suspicions. So the Bodhisatta went away without stopping, and the ascetic threw his mallet, but it hit just the tip of his tail. The Bodhisatta told him, “You missed me, but you will not miss your punishment in hell,” and ran off to hide in an anthill. He popped his head out a hole other than the one he had used to go in and hurled insults at the wicked ascetic, telling him that if he stayed, he would expose him to all the people living there. So the ascetic left.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The false ascetic was an earlier birth of one of the Buddha’s disciples who had been exposed as a cheater. The Buddha told this story so the other disciples knew that the cheating disciple had also been a rogue in the past.

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