This story was told by the Master, when dwelling in the Bamboo
Grove, concerning the going about of Devadatta to kill the Buddha.

Once upon a time when Brahnmadatta reigned in Benares, the Bodhisatta came to life as a young monkey in the Himalaya region. And when fully grown he lived on the banks of the Ganges. Now a certain female crocodile in the Ganges conceived a longing for the flesh of the Bodhisatta’s heart, and told it to her husband. He thought, “I will kill the Bodhisatta by plunging him in the water and will take his heart’s flesh and give it to my wife.” So he said to the Bodhisatta, “Come, my friend we will go and eat wild fruits on a certain island.”

“How shall I get there?” He said.

“I will put you on my back and bring you there,” answered the crocodile.

Innocent of the crocodile’s purpose he jumped on his back and sat there. The crocodile after swimming a little way began to dive. Then the monkey said, “Why, Sir, do you plunge me into the water:”

“I am going to kill you,” said the crocodile, “and give you heart’s flesh to my wife.”

“Foolish fellow,” said he, “do you suppose my heart is inside me?”

“Then where have you put it?”

“Do you not see it hanging there on yonder fig-tree?”

“I see it,” said the crocodile. “But will you give it to me?”

“Yes, I will” said the monkey.

Then the crocodile – so foolish was he – took him and swam to the foot of the fig-tree on the river bank. The Bodhisatta springing from the crocodile’s back perched on the fig-tree and repeated these stanzas:

Have I from water, fish, to dry land passed
Only to fall into thy power at last?
Of bread fruit and rose apples I am sick,
And rather figs than yonder mangoes pick.
He that to great occasion fails to rise
‘Neath foeman’s feet in sorrow prostrate lies:
One prompt a crisis in his fate to know
Needs never dread oppression from his foe.

Thus did the Bodhisatta in these four stanzas tell how to succeed in worldly affairs, and forthwith disappeared in the thicket of trees.

The Master, having brought his lesson to an end, identified the Birth: “At that time Devadatta was the crocodile, and I myself was the monkey.”

The source for the above material:
Jataka Stories Vol. III. 1973 Page 88. 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.

Home Topics Back