Valodaka Jataka (#183)

temple painting of Valodaka Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. One time after the king returned from putting down a rebellion in the border region, he ordered that his five hundred war horses be fed some grape wine because they were very tired. They all drank it and then went to their stalls and stood quietly. The horses made a lot of droppings and the stable boys asked the king what they should do with it all. He told them to mix it with water, strain it, and feed it to the donkeys who had pulled the wagons with the horses’ food. This wretched stuff made the donkeys drunk and they ran around the palace grounds braying loudly. The king asked the Bodhisatta why thoroughbreds that drank strong liquor were calm and quiet while the weak drink made the donkeys go wild. The Bodhisatta answered that the low-born lack self-control.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

A group of five hundred people became dedicated lay followers of the Buddha and they all lived together. Each of them had a servant and these would eat their masters’ leftover food. While the lay followers were always quiet and peaceful, the servants would run around wrestling and shouting.

The horses and donkeys were earlier births of the five hundred disciples and servants respectively, and the Buddha told this story so people knew both groups been the same way in earlier births.

The king was an earlier birth of Ananda.

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