Samugga Jataka (#436)

temple painting of Samugga Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic who lived in the Himalayas. A demon lived nearby and occasionally listened to the Bodhisatta preach, though he never fully accepted his ideas and still went down to the road to eat men. Once, while attacking a chariot, the demon fell in love at first sight with the gorgeous noblewoman riding inside. He took her back to his cave and made her his wife. He gave her robes and jewelry and brought her good food to eat. To keep her safe, he put her in a box that he swallowed and stored in his stomach.

One day while bathing, the demon threw up the box with his wife, and after she took a bath, he let her stay out in the open a while. While the demon was in the water, the woman saw a magician walking through the air and she silently signaled for him to come down and join her, which he did. When she saw the demon returning, she got in the box and lay down on top of the magician, using her robe to hide him. Suspecting nothing, the demon swallowed the box again and headed home.

As he walked home to his cave, the demon realized it had been a long time since he met the Bodhisatta and he went to pay his respects. Through his supernatural powers, the Bodhisatta knew what was in the demon’s stomach, so he said, “Welcome to all three of you.” The demon didn’t understand the comment and, wondering if the Bodhisatta was going crazy, asked why he said it. The Bodhisatta told him who was in his stomach. Worried the magician would wield his sword and kill him from the inside, the demon quickly threw up the box. And just a moment after it left his mouth, the magician cast a spell and sprang into the air. Thankful the Bodhisatta had saved his life, the demon threw himself at his feet and praised him. The demon set both the woman and the magician free and returned home alone.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

One of the Buddha’s disciples considered quitting the sangha so he could be with a woman. The Buddha told the disciple this story to remind him that women are wicked and ungrateful and cannot be faithful to just one man. This convinced him to remain.

The Buddha did not identify any earlier births other than his own.

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