Sandhibheda Jataka (#349)

temple painting of Sandhibheda Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a king, and he ruled righteously. One time a cowherd mistakenly left a pregnant cow behind in the forest, and it became good friends with a lion. Later, both animals gave birth at the same time, and their children also became friends and roamed around together.

When a forester delivered some things he had gathered in the forest to the palace, the Bodhisatta asked him if he had ever seen any unusual marvels in the forest. He told the Bodhisatta about the cow and lion’s friendship, and the Bodhisatta told the forester that if he ever saw a third animal join them, he should immediately come to the palace and inform him. The next time the forester returned to that place, he saw a jackal hanging out with the pair, so he rushed back to the city to tell the king about it.

The jackal had eaten every kind of meat except beef and lion, and he knew that if he got the two friends arguing they would kill each other, and he would get his special meals. So he lied and told the lion and cow they each spoke poorly of the other. His scheme worked, and the two animals fought to their deaths. When the Bodhisatta got the news from the forester, he hitched up his chariot and the forester led him to the spot. There they saw the delighted jackal eating the flesh of the two friends. The Bodhisatta spoke on the dangers of slander; gathered the lion’s mane, skin, claws, and teeth; and returned home.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

A group of six of the Buddha’s disciples slandered other disciples in order to create arguments. When the Buddha heard about it, he rebuked them and told this story as an example of how slander can end friendships.

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

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