Sunakha Jataka (#242)

temple painting of Sunakha Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a wealthy man. A man in the city had raised his dog on rice, so he grew fat and content. A villager bought the dog and took him home, tying him up in his hut. The Bodhisatta had been in the forest doing some errands, and when he saw the dog, he told him to stop being a fool and chew through his leash and escape. The dog answered that he wasn’t dumb, he was just waiting for the right time. That night, when everyone was asleep, the dog gnawed himself free and returned to his original master’s home with great happiness.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

A stray dog lived around the gate to one of the Buddha’s monasteries. He had been born there and was fed by various water carriers until he grew very large. One day a villager bought the dog from the water carriers. The man tied a chain around his neck, and together they walked toward his home. The dog made no resistance, walking right next to the man at all times on the long journey. Figuring the dog was fond of him, the man eventually took the chain off, and immediately the dog ran all the way back to the monastery. Some of the Buddha’s disciples saw the dog back at the gate, and having guessed what had happened, they praised him for being so smart.

When the Buddha heard the disciples talking about the dog’s escape, he told them this story so they knew that an earlier birth of this dog had also made a clever escape back to his home.

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