Kakati Jataka (#327)

temple painting of Kakati Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a king. He frequently hosted games of dice, and a garuda king in the form of a handsome young man often came to play. The garuda and the Bodhisatta’s gorgeous chief queen fell in love and secretly ran off to live together at the garuda’s remote island home. Missing his queen, the Bodhisatta sent one of his minstrels out to find her. Suspecting she was with the garuda, the minstrel found him relaxing on a lakeshore and snuck into his feathers to hitch a ride to his island. There he had sex with the queen and later flew back home undetected in the same way. The next time the garuda played dice at the palace, the minstrel took his lute to the dice chamber and sang of his affair with the queen. The garuda regretted not guarding her better and, now knowing what a wicked woman she was, gave her back to the Bodhisatta and never returned to the palace.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The minstrel was an earlier birth of one of the Buddha’s disciples who considered quitting the sangha after falling for the charms of a woman. The Buddha explained that it’s easy to be led astray by women, and then he told this story as an example of how there is no place one can escape temptation.

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