Sandhibheda Jataka (#349)

The Bodhisatta was once a king and he ruled righteously. One time a cowherd mistakenly left a cow behind in the forest and it became good friends with a lion. Both 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 seen any unusual marvels in the forest. He told the Bodhisatta about the cow and lion friendship and the Bodhisatta told the forester that if he ever saw a third animal join them, he should come to the palace and inform him immediately.

The next time the forester went to the forest 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 knew if he got the two friends arguing they would kill each other and he would get his special meal. 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 knew the lion and cow would be dead before they arrived. He hitched up his chariot and the forester led him to the spot and 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

There was a group of six of the Buddha’s disciples who 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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