The Bodhisatta was once a parrot. He and his brother lived in the home of a brahmin who treated them like his own children. The brahmin’s wife was a wicked woman. One time when he had to go away on business, the brahmin asked his parrots to stop her if they saw her doing something bad. They said they would, if it was possible for them to do so; otherwise they would stay quiet.
During her husband’s absence the wife had a steady stream of lovers come to the house. The Bodhisatta’s brother wanted to say something to her, but the Bodhisatta told him it was impossible to stop her and ordered him to say nothing. When the brahmin returned, they told him what his wife had been up to and then said that, because they informed on her, they could no longer live in the house and they flew away to the forest.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
One of the Buddha’s junior disciples always received poor food (lumpy gruel with stale or rotting ingredients and dried or burnt sprouts) and he did not get enough to stay healthy. He started to return each morning to the wife he left behind, and she gave him delicious rice with sauce and curry. This made him miss his former life, and with her encouragement he decided to leave the sangha.
The brahmin and his wife were earlier births of this disciple and his former wife. The Buddha reminded this disciple that it is impossible to keep watch over a woman in order to stop her from doing bad things and then told him this story to let him know he had tried and failed to control his wife in the past. This convinced him to remain a disciple.
The Bodhisatta’s brother was an earlier birth of Ananda, one of the Buddha’s top disciples.