Kurunga Jataka (#21)

painting of Kurunga Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once an antelope and he loved to eat fruit. A clever hunter used to look for footprints below fruit trees and then build platforms in them. When an animal came to feed on the fruit that fell down, he killed them with his spear. The Bodhisatta knew of this hunting method and always approached trees with caution. One time he stood near, but not under, a tree where this hunter lie in wait, and the impatient hunter threw fruit in front of the Bodhisatta to lure him in. Suspicious, the Bodhisatta scanned the tree and caught sight of the hunter, but pretended not to see him. The Bodhisatta told the tree that since his behavior was odd, the fruit coming near him rather than dropping straight down, he would be going to eat at another. When the hunter heard this, he threw his spear, but missed. The Bodhisatta now addressed the hunter directly telling him that, “Even though you missed me, you won’t miss your punishments in hell.”

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The hunter was an earlier birth of Devadatta, a disciple of the Buddha who became his nemesis and tried to kill him three times. When the Buddha heard some of his disciples discussing Devadatta’s attempted murder, he told them this story to let them know that Devadatta had also tried unsuccessfully to kill him in the past.

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