Sigala Jataka (#113)

temple painting of Sigala Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a tree fairy. During a festival, people laid out fish and meat and large pots of liquor all around the city as sacrifices to ogres. That night a jackal snuck into the city through the sewer and feasted on this food and drink before passing out in some bushes. He awoke the next morning and realized he could not get out of the city safely in the daylight, so he hid alongside a road.

Eventually the jackal saw a brahmin walking alone, and since rich men like him were almost all greedy, the jackal thought he could use him to get out of the city. He called the brahmin over to his hiding place and said he would pay two hundred gold coins to be carried out under the brahmin’s robe. The brahmin agreed. They went to the cemetery where the jackal told the brahmin to spread his robe on the ground, then dig up a tree to get his money. While the brahmin did as he was told, the jackal walked over to the brahmin’s robe, defecated on it in five places, and walked off into the forest. The Bodhisatta, who watched this happen, mocked the embarrassed brahmin for being a fool.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The Jackal was an earlier birth of Devadatta, a disciple of the Buddha who became his nemesis. One time when the Buddha heard some of his disciples discussing how Devadatta’s lies were causing trouble, he told them this story so they knew that Devadatta had also been a liar in the past.

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