Radha Jataka (#145)

temple painting of Radha Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a parrot. He and his brother lived in the home of a brahmin who treated them like his own children. Unfortunately, his wife was a thoroughly wicked woman, and when he had to go away on business, the brahmin asked his parrot pair to stop her if she did something bad. They said they would if possible; 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 they couldn’t 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 had informed on her, they could no longer safely live in the house. 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. Then he told this story so the disciple knew that 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.

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