Jambu-Khadaka Jataka (#294)

The Bodhisatta was once a tree fairy living in a rose-apple tree. One day a jackal looked up and saw a crow eating fruit from this tree and hoped that with a little flattery the crow would drop some fruit down for him. “Your voice is as beautiful as a peacock’s,” he said. The crow answered, “You are noble like a young tiger” and shook a branch to make some fruit drop. The Bodhisatta heard the two carrion-eating creatures lying to each other and, disliking both of them, took a fearful shape and scared them away.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The jackal and the crow were earlier births of Devadatta, a disciple of the Buddha who became his nemesis, and Kokalika, one of Devadatta’s devoted supporters. After Devadatta began to get a bad reputation, he and Kokalika began praising each other’s lineage and religious knowledge as they went house to house on alms rounds.

When the Buddha heard some of his disciples discussing this, the Buddha told them this story so they knew the pair had also lied about each other’s virtues in the past.

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