Ubhatobhattha Jataka (#139)

The Bodhisatta was once a tree fairy. A fisherman got his hook snagged in a tree, but imagined that it was a giant fish. He didn’t want to share, so he sent his son back to the village to tell his wife to create a commotion so that nobody else would come there and see him reel the fish in. Fearing the line would break, he took off his clothes and walked into the water to grab his fish, and as he groped about the muddy water, branches of the tree that snagged his line poked his eyes, blinding him. And while he was in the water, a thief stole his clothes.

His wife, meanwhile, stuck a palm leaf behind her ear, painted one eye black with soot, and started nursing a dog. One of her neighbors told the wife she was crazy. The wife replied that she would not tolerate such slander and demanded the village head fine her neighbor eight coins. Instead, he ordered the wife to pay eight coins to the neighbor and she was tied up and beaten to make her pay. After all this happened, the Bodhisatta exclaimed to those listening that the fisherman had failed two-fold, in the water and on the land.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The fisherman was an earlier birth of Devadatta, a disciple of the Buddha who became his nemesis. One time the Buddha’s disciples were discussing how Devadatta had a two-fold failure in life by missing out on the comforts of lay life and also not receiving any benefit from his time as a disciple. The Buddha told this story so they knew Devadatta had a two-fold failure in the past too.

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