Once upon a time in the reign of Brahmadatta, king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was born in the form of Sakka. At that time a man, who lived in the kingdom of Kasi, came into the Himalaya region, and adopting the life of an ascetic lived on wild fruits. One day he found in the forest a young deer that had lost its dam. He took it home to his hermitage, and fed and cherished it. The young deer grew up a handsomely and comely beast, and the ascetic took care of it and treated it as his won child. One day the young deer died of indigestion from a surfeit of grass. The ascetic went about lamenting and said, “My child is dead.” Then Sakka, king of heaven, exploring the world, saw that ascetic, and thinking to alarm him; he came and took his stand in the air and uttered the first stanza:

To sorrow for the dead doth ill become
The lone ascetic, free from ties of home

The ascetic no sooner heard this than he uttered the second stanza:

Should man with beast consort, O sakka, rief
For a lost playmate finds in tears relief.

Then sakka repeated two stanzas:

Such as to weep are fain may still lament the dead,
Weep not, O sage, ‘tis vain to weep the wise have said.
If by our tears we might prevail against the grave,
Thus would we all unite our dearest ones to save.

While Sakka was thus speaking, the ascetic recognizing that it was useless to weep, and singing the praises of Sakka, repeated three stanzas:

As ghee-fed flame that blazes out amain
Is quenched with water, so he quenched my pain.

With sorrow’s shaft my heart was wounded sore:
He healed by wound and did my life restore.

The barb extracted, full of joy and peace,
At Sakka’s words I from my sorrow cease.

After thus admonishing the ascetic, Sakka departed to his won place of abode.

The Master here ended his lesson and identified the Birth: - “At that time the old man was the ascetic, the novice was the deer, and I myself was Sakka.”


The source for the above material:
Jataka Stories Vol. III. 1973 Pages 140-141 Copyright © Pali Text Society c/o Antony CPI Anthony Rowe Ltd., Unit 3-4 Pegasus Way, Bowerhill Industrial Estate, Melksham, Wilts, SN12 6TR U.K. These passages are quoted with permission from the Pali Text Society.


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