Vinilaka Jataka (#160)

temple painting of Vinilaka Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a king. Out in the forest lived a goose king who had two sons. One time they asked their father why he went to the realm of humans so often and he explained that he had once mated with a crow and had another son living there. The goose sons did not want their father traveling to dangerous areas, so they went to pick up their half-crow half-brother and bring him to the forest.

They carried a stick between them in their beaks for their brother to ride on. As they flew, they saw the Bodhisatta’s carriage on a road down below being pulled by four milk-white horses. The half-crow commented that he was just like the king, and his goose brothers were like the horses. This insult angered the geese and upon landing they told their father about it. He too was angry at his son’s air of superiority and told him to go back home. So, at their father’s order, the goose brothers took the half-crow not to his tree, but to the city’s dunghill.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The half-crow son was an earlier birth of Devadatta, a disciple of the Buddha who became his nemesis. The goose king was Ananda and the goose brothers were Sariputta and Moggallana, three of the Buddha’s top disciples. One time after Sariputta and Moggallana had gone to visit Devadatta, the Buddha asked what had happened at their meeting. They answered that Devadatta had tried to act equal to the Buddha by having them sit at his side and tried to preach, but had failed to impress and most of his disciples left to come back to the Buddha’s monastery. The Buddha told them this story so they knew it was not the first time Devadatta had suffered a rebuke after acting like him.

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