Mittamitta Jataka (#197)

temple painting of Bandhanamokkha Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic who lived in the Himalayas. Against the Bodhisatta’s advice, one of the other ascetics living in his group adopted a young, orphaned elephant. When it grew large, the elephant killed its master and ran off into the forest. After this, the other ascetics asked the Bodhisatta how to know whether someone is friend or foe. He answered that foes do not smile or act friendly and they have a negative attitude.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The ascetic and the elephant were earlier births of one of the Buddha’s disciples and the disciple’s teacher respectively. The disciple took a piece of cloth from his teacher without asking and made a shoe bag from it. The teacher later asked why he had taken it without asking, and the disciple answered that he was sure he would not be angry. The teacher flew into a rage and hit the disciple.

When the Buddha heard other disciples discussing the incident, he told them this story so they knew that the inconsiderate disciple had also not thought about the feelings of others in the past.

The rest of the band of ascetics were earlier births of the Buddha’s followers.

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