Saliya Jataka (#367)

temple painting of Saliya Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a son of a village householder. A poor, elderly doctor saw a snake coiled up asleep in the fork of a banyan tree under which the Bodhisatta and his friends were playing. Wanting the boys to get bit by the snake so he could make money curing them, he told the Bodhisatta there was a hedgehog in the tree and he should go catch it. Not taking even a moment to look, the Bodhisatta climbed up the tree and grabbed it by the neck. Once he realized it was a snake he immediately flung it away. It fell on the doctor’s neck and bit him. The doctor dropped dead immediately.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The doctor was an earlier birth of Devadatta, a disciple of the Buddha who became his nemesis and tried to kill him three times. While talking with some disciples, the Buddha told them this story so they knew none of Devadatta’s attacks, present nor past, had ever caused him fear.

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