Santhava Jataka (#162)

temple painting of Santhava Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a devout worshipper of the fire god. When he came of age, his parents asked if he was going to take his birth fire into the wilderness to worship it devoutly or live as a married man in town. He chose the religious life and lived by himself in the forest in a hut made of branches and leaves.

One day the Bodhisatta received alms of rice and ghee and offered them to his sacred fire. He dropped them into the fire and the oil made a fierce flame shoot up and engulf his hut. He ran to safety and watched his home burn. Upset about having given himself to a wicked god, he doused the fire with water, renounced his faith, and set off deep into the mountains to become an ascetic. There he saw a deer licking the face of a lion, a tiger, and a panther and understood the importance of friendship. He fully embraced the true religious life and won the knowledges and attainments, and was reborn in heaven after death.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

Several naked ascetics fed their sacred fire behind the Buddha’s monastery. Some of the Buddha’s disciples asked him whether any good resulted from this, and the Buddha told them this story to explain that there was absolutely no benefit whatsoever.

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

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