Jātakamālā or Garland of Birth Stories

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22. The Story of the Holy Swans (Maitrī)
(Compare Pāli Jātaka, No. 533, Fausböll V, 337-354)

The virtuous, even when in distress, behave in such a manner as cannot be imitated by the impious; how much less are the latter able to follow up the con-duct of the virtuous, when favoured by fortune! This will be taught as follows.

One time, it is told, the Bodhisattva was a king of swans. He was the chief of a large tribe of swans, numbering many hundred thousands, who lived in Lake Mānasa. His name was Dhṛtarāṣṭra. The com-mander of his army, who was called Sumukha, The original text has here this interpolation, 'who was the presbyter Ānanda at that time,’ of course bracketed by the editor. Cp. the note on p. 164.01 was skilled in the management of affairs, knowing the right and the wrong policy very well; his keen intellect encompassed the objects and events over a large extent of space and time; born of an illustrious family, he embellished the nobility of his extraction by his talent, his courtesy, his modesty; he was endowed with the virtues of constancy, honesty, courage, and distinguished by the purity of his conduct, mode of life, and behaviour; moreover he was capable of enduring fatigue, vigilant and clever in military marches as well as in battles, and bore a great affection to his master.

In consequence of their mutual love the grandeur of their qualities shone the more; and as they were in the habit of instructing that flock of swans, as a teacher and his foremost disciple would instruct all his other pupils, or a father with his eldest son his other sons, inculcating upon their mind a peaceable behaviour towards others, and such other matters as lead to the benefit of the creatures, they offered a spectacle for the [182] great admiration of the Devas, Snakes, Yakṣas, Vidyādharas, and holy ascetics who witnessed them.

1. As of a bird in the sky both wings are incessantly occupied in holding up his body, so these two knew no other business than that of supporting the body of Salvation for their flock of swans.

Now that tribe of swans, being thus favoured by them, attained a state of great plenty, in the same way as mankind by the extension of righteousness and material prosperity. Consequently that lake bore the utmost beauty.

2, 3. Adorned by that tribe of swans, who by their sound would call to mind the soft and lovely noise of the anklets of women, that lake was splendid.

When in a mass the swans resembled a moving grove of lotuses. When dispersed or divided into separate groups of unequal size, they made the lake surpass even the beauty of a sky embellished with scattered banks of clouds.

Enchanted with that exceeding splendour, which was the effect of the virtue of that lord of swans intent on the good of all creatures, and of Sumukha, his com-mander-in chief, crowds of Siddhas, Ṛṣis, Vidyā-dharas, and deities often and in many places delighted in conversing on the glory of those two.

4. “Their magnificent figures resemble pure gold, their voices utter articulate speech, righteousness is the rule of their modest behaviour and their policy. Whosoever they may be, they bear but the shape of swans.”

5. The fame of those two, spreading through the world by the report of those superhuman beings who, free from jealousy, celebrated their virtues, found a general belief to such an extent, that it became a topic of conversation in the councils of kings, where the account of their glory circulated like a present.

Now in that time one Brahmadatta Brahmadatta, the king of Benares, is the fabulous prince, during whose reign a great number of the Stories of the Pāli Jātaka-book take place.02 was king in [183] Benares. Having often heard in his council his trust-worthy officials and the foremost among the Brāhmans highly extol the extraordinary qualities of that lord of swans and of his commander-in-chief, he became more and more affected with curiosity to see them. So he said to his ministers, who were very clever, having studied many branches of science: “Well, sirs, set to work the cleverness of your minds, and try to devise some means by which I might obtain at least the sight of those two excellent swans.” Then those wise minis-ters let their thoughts range over the road of political wisdom, and (having discovered by thinking the means wanted) said to the king:

6. “The prospect of happiness allures the creatures to withdraw from any place, Your Majesty. For this reason the rumour of the existence of some extremely good qualities conducive to their happiness may bring them hither.

Therefore, let Your Majesty deign to order a beau-tiful lake, of the same kind as that where those lovely-shaped swans are reported to live, but still surpassing it in brilliancy, to be constructed here in one of your forests; which being done, you must make known by proclamation, to be repeated every day, that you grant safety to all birds. Perhaps the rumour of the sur-passing excellence of this lake, conducive to their happiness, may excite their curiosity and draw them hither. Do but consider, Your Majesty.

7. As a rule happiness once obtained loses its charm, and ceases to be taken into account; but such happiness as rests upon hearsay seems lovely, and fascinates the mind, because it is remote from the eyes.”

The king accepted their proposal, and had a great lake, which by the splendour of its magnificence rivalled with Lake Mānasa, constructed in a short time in a place not too near the park which skirted his capital. It was a most charming basin of pure water, and very rich in water-plants, embracing various kinds of lotuses and waterlilies: padma, utpala, kumuda, puṇḍarīka, saugandhika, tāmarasa, kahlāra. [184]

8. Flowery trees, bright with their quivering twigs, surrounded its shore, as if they had taken possession of that place in order to contemplate that lake.

9. Swarms of bees, as if attracted by its laughing lotuses, which were rocking on its gently trembling waves, roamed hovering over its surface.

10, 11. Here its beauty was enhanced by its various waterlilies, sleepless through the gentle touch of the moonbeams, which made them resemble patches of moonshine piercing through the foliage.

There the pollen of lotuses and waterlilies, conveyed by the finger-like waves, would ornament its shore as if with gold wires.

12. In many other places, where it was covered with the lovely petals and filaments of lotuses and waterlilies, it showed a widespread splendour, as if it bore a gift of homage.

13. Another beauty was due to the limpidity and calmness of its water, which was so transparent as to show the sharp contours and the fair hues of its crowds of fishes, no less conspicuous while swimming beneath its surface than they would have been if moving in the sky.

14. Near such places, where the elephants, dipping their trunks in it, blew forth cascades of spray glittering like a string of loosened pearls, it seemed as if the lake carried waves ground to dust after being driven upon rocks and scattered in the air.

15. Here and there it was perfumed, so to speak, with the fragrances emanating from the ointments used by bathing Vidyādhara women, from the streams of juice of elephants in rut and from the dust of its (own) flowers.

16. Being so brilliant, that lake was like a general mirror for the stars, the wives of the Moon-god. Gay birds abounded, and their warbling resounded in it.

Such, then, was the lake he had ordered to be con-structed, and which he gave to the whole nation of birds to have the unobstructed use and enjoyment of
it. Accordingly, in order to inspire all birds with [185] confidence, he ordered a proclamation, by which he granted them security, to be repeated day after day. It ran in these terms:

17. “The king is glad to give this lake, inclusive of the groups of lotuses and waterlilies covering its waters, to the birds, and grants safety to them.”

One time, when autumn having drawn away the dark curtain of clouds, dispensed its beautiful gifts, enlarging the horizon clear and pure, the lakes were lovely to behold, with their limpid water and with the full brilliancy of their clusters of lotuses disclosed. It was the season when the Moon, with increased power of rays, as it were, reaches the highest pitch of loveli-ness and youthfulness, when Earth, adorned with the harvest-bliss of manifold crops, offers a fair aspect, and when the younger among the swans begin to show themselves.

Now, a couple of swans, who belonged to that very tribe of the Bodhisattva, flew up from Lake Mānasa, and passing over different regions overspread with autumn's mildness, at last came to the realm of that king. And there they saw that lake and the wonderful beauty caused by its flowers; for its lotuses, when expanded, made it glow as with flames, and its waterlilies, when unclosed, gave it a laughing aspect. They heard the echoes of the confused sounds of crowds of birds and the humming of the bees who were busily roaming over its flowers. They smelt the scent of the dust of its lotuses and waterlilies scattered about by the gentle, cool, and soft breezes, which seemed to have the task of gliding over the wreaths of its waves. Though accustomed to Lake Mānasa, those two swans were touched by the sur-passing loveliness and splendour of that other lake; and this thought entered their mind: “Oh! our whole tribe must come here!”

18. Generally people, obtaining some pleasure within the reach of everybody, will in the first place remember their friends, owing to the suggestion of their love.

That couple remained there, diverting themselves as they best liked, till the next rainy season. At the [186] commencement of that period, when masses of clouds like hosts of the Daityas advance causing darkness, yet not too thick and interrupted by flashes of lightning glittering like brandished weapons; when the gay troops of peacocks perform their dances and display the beauty of their wide-opened feather-tails, while uttering their loud and continual cries, as if they exulted at the triumph of the clouds, and also the smaller birds have become loquacious; when brisk winds blow, fragrant with the flower-dust of forest trees: the sāl, the kadamba, the arjuna, and the ketaka, and produce a welcome coolness, as if they were the breath of the forest; when flocks of young cranes, showing themselves in the sky, contrast with the dark background of the clouds, so as to resemble their rows of teeth, so to speak; when the tribes of swans are anxious to leave, and give vent to their longing by soft and gentle cries - on that opportunity our couple of swans returned to their Lake Mānasa.

And paying their respects to their lord, they told him, first of the regions they had visited, then gave him an account of the surpassing advantages of that lake (whence they had just returned). “Your Majesty, south of Mount Himavat,” they said, “there lives at Benares a king of men, named Brahmadatta, who has delivered to the birds a large lake of marvellous beauty, possessing delights of indescribable loveliness. All birds may enjoy it at their free will and wish, and safety is war-ranted to them by a royal decree which is made known every day by proclamation. The birds divert them-selves there as unrestrained and fearless as if they stayed in their homes. When the rains are over Your Majesty ought to go there.”

On hearing this, the whole tribe of swans were affected with a strong desire to see that lake. The Bodhisattva, then, fixing his eyes with an inquisitive expression upon the face of Sumukha, his commander-in-chief, said: “What do you think about this?” Sumukha, after bowing his head, answered: “I deem it unfit for Your Majesty to go there. Why? Those delights of charming loveliness [187] are, after all, but a kind of allurement, and here we are in want of nothing. Generally speaking, the hearts of men are false, their tender compassion is deceitful, and under the guise of delusive sweet words and kind attentions they conceal a cruel and wicked nature. Will Your Highness deign to consider this.

19. Quadrupeds and birds are wont to express their true feelings by the import of their cries. But men are the only animals skilled in producing sound meaning the contrary of their intentions.

20. Their language, of course, is sweet, well-intentioned, and wholesome. Merchants also make expenses in the hope of obtaining gain.

21. Therefore, Your Majesty, it is unfit at any time to put confidence (in them) because of something as trifling (as their words). A line of conduct which is dangerous and wrong, cannot be but unsuccessful, even if followed in pursuit of some object.

Should, however, the excursion to that lake be indispensable, it is not suitable for us to stay there for a long time, or to make up our minds to resolve to take up our residence there; we have only to go and, after enjoying its magnificent beauties, return shortly. Such is my advice.”

Now, as the tribe of swans, whose curiosity to see the Benares lake was ever increasing, did not cease to request the Bodhisattva again and again to set out for that place, once on a bright autumn night, adorned with the pure lustre of the moon, the asterisms, and the stars, he complied with their wishes. And, accom-panied by Sumukha and a numerous crowd of swans, he set out in that direction, resembling the Moon-god with his attendant band of (white) autumn clouds.

22. As soon as they beheld the charming splendour of that lake, surprise mingled with gladness over-whelmed their minds. When they entered it, they added to it no less brilliancy by their gay shapes and the lovely groups they formed, taking possession of it.

23. Owing to the manifold varieties of its sites, by which it surpassed Lake Mānasa, they were delighted, [188] and in time their attachment to the new place of abode effaced Mānasa from their hearts.

They heard the proclamation of safety, perceived the freedom of movement of the birds residing there, and were gladdened by the display of the beauty of the lake. Their delight rose to the highest degree when they wandered over its waters, enjoying the pleasure of one who makes an excursion in a park.

Now the guardians of that lake reported the arrival of those swans to the king, saying: “Your Majesty, two excellent swans, who bear the very same shape and are distinguished by the very same qualities as those famous ones are said to possess, have arrived at Your Majesty's lake, as if to enhance its beauty. Their beautiful wings shine like gold, their beaks and feet have a lustre which even surpasses that of gold, their size exceeds the average, and they have well-shaped bodies. A retinue of many hundred thousands of swans have come with them.”

Having been thus informed, the king selected among his fowlers one who was re-nowned and recognised for his skill in the art of bird-catching, and committed to him the honourable charge of catching them. The fowler promised to do so, and having carefully watched the places which those two swans were in the habit of frequenting and haunting, laid down on different spots strong snares well concealed. Now, while the swans were wandering far and wide over the lake, with minds cheerful and rejoiced and without suspecting any mischief, trusting the grant of safety, their lord got one foot entangled in a snare.

24. Trustfulness, indeed, is pernicious. Aroused by the subtle contrivances of those who inspire confidence, it first obliterates the suspicion of danger, then displays carelessness and want of policy.

Then the Bodhisattva, lest a similar misfortune should befall also anybody else of his tribe, announced by a special cry the dangerousness of the lake. Upon which, the swans, alarmed at the capture of their lord, flew up to the sky, uttering confused and dissonant [189] cries of fear, without regarding each other, like soldiers whose chief warrior has been killed. Yet Sumukha, the commander-in-chief, did not withdraw from the side of the lord of swans.

25. A heart bound by affection does not mind imminent peril. Worse than death to such a one is the sorrow which the miserable distress of a friend inflicts on it.

To him the Bodhisattva said:

26. “Go, Sumukha, go; it is not wise to linger here. What opportunity couldst thou have of helping me who am in this state?”

Sumukha spoke:

27. “No final death can I incur, if I stay here, nor shall I, if I go, be freed from old age and death. I always attended on thee in thy prosperity. How, master, should I be capable of leaving thee in thy calamity?

28. If I were to leave thee, prince of birds, on account of such a trifle as the thread of my own life, where could I find a shield against the rain-shower of blame?

29. It is not right, my liege, that I should leave thee in thy distress. Whatever fate may be thine, I am pleased with it, O lord of birds.”

The Bodhisattva spoke:

30. “What other may be the fate of an insnared bird than the kitchen? How can that prospect please thee who art in the free possession of thy mind and thy limbs?

31, 32. Or what profit dost thou see for me or thyself or the whole of our kindred in the death of both of us?

And what profit mayst thou explain to be in giving up thy life on an occurrence, when that profit is as little to be seen as level and unlevel in the dark?”

Sumukha spoke:

33, 34. “How, most excellent of birds, dost thou not perceive the profit in following the path of Righteous-ness? Honouring the Law of Righteousness in the [190] right manner Instead of upacitaḥ in the Sanskrit text, the Pāli redaction has apacito, which no doubt is the true reading. I have translated accordingly, comparing also stanza 36 tadarcitas tvaya dharmaḥ.03 produces the highest profit.

For this reason I, knowing the precepts of Righteousness and the profit arising there from, also moved by attachment to thee, my liege, do not cling to life.”

The Bodhisattva spoke:

35, 36. “Verily, this is the law for the virtuous, that a friend, minding his duty, shall not abandon his friend in distress, even at the cost of his life.

Now, thou didst observe the Law of Righteousness, thou didst show me thy devoted affection. Grant me then, I pray thee, this last request. Fly away, I give thee leave.

37. Moreover, the affair having taken this turn, it is thy task, wise-minded one, to fill up the gap caused to our friends by the loss of me.”

38. While they were thus conversing, vying with each other in mutual affection, lo, the Niṣāda The fowler belonged to that low class of people.04 appeared, rushing upon them like the God of Death.

As soon as they became aware of his approach, the two excellent birds became silent. Now, the Niṣāda seeing that the tribe of swans had flown away, was persuaded “certainly, some one of them has been caught;” and going round the different places, where he had laid down his snares, discovered those two foremost swans. He was surprised at their beauty, and thinking both of them to be insnared, shook the snares placed in their neighbourhood. But when he perceived that one was caught and the other, loose and free, was keeping him company, his astonishment increased, and drawing near to Sumukha, he spoke to him:

39, 40. “This bird, being caught in a strong snare, loses his freedom of movement. For this reason he cannot mount to the sky, although I approach. But thou who art not fastened, who art free and [191] strong and hast thy winged carriage at thy disposal, why dost thou not hastily fly up to the sky at my arrival?”

On hearing this, Sumukha addressed him with human language in a voice which distinctly articulated syllables and words, and by its sonorousness manifested the firmness of mind of the speaker, being employed to show his (virtuous) nature.

41, 42. “How is it, thou askest me, that I, being able to go, do not go. Why, the cause thereof is this. This bird here suffers the misfortune of being insnared. Thou hast power over him, whose foot is entangled in this strong snare, but he has power over me by still stronger fetters, his virtues, by which he has fastened my heart.”

Upon this the Niṣāda, affected with high admiration and almost in ecstasy, Literally: on whose body the hairs stood up.05 once more asked Sumukha.

43. “Being afraid of me, the other swans left him and flew up to the sky. But thou dost not leave him. Say, what is this bird to thee?”

Sumukha spoke:

44. “My king he is, my friend he is, whom I love no less than life, my benefactor he is, and he is in distress. On this account I may never desert him, not even in order to save my own life.”

And observing the feelings of growing tenderness and admiration which appeared in the Niṣāda, he continued:

45. “Oh! If this our conversation might lead to a happy end, my friend! If thou wert to obtain the glory of a virtuous action by setting us free now!”

The Niṣāda spoke:

46. “I do not wish thee harm, and it is not thee I have caught. Why then, go free and join thy relations who will be glad at the sight of thee!”

Sumukha spoke:

47, 48. “If thou dost not wish my sorrow, then thou must grant my request. If thou art content with one, [192] well, leave him and take me.

Our bodies have an equal size and compass, and our age is the same, I tell thee. So taking me as a ransom for him, thou wilt not lose thy profit.

49, 50. Why, sir, do consider it well. O that thou mayst be greedy to possess me! Thou mayst tie me first, and afterwards release the king of birds.

Thus doing, thou wouldst enjoy the same amount of gain, thou wouldst have granted my request, thou wouldst also cause gladness to the tribe of swans and obtain their friendship, too.

51. Now then, gladden the host of swans by setting their lord at liberty, that they may see him again in his resplendent beauty in the clear sky, resembling the Moon released from the Lord of Daityas (Rāhu).”

The Niṣāda, though accustomed to a cruel trade and hard-hearted by practice, was much touched by these words of the bird uttered in a firm yet soft tone and imposing by their import. For they magnified the attachment to one's master without minding one's own life, and were a strong manifestation of the virtue of gratitude. Overpowered by admiration and respect, he folded his hands, and lifting them up to Sumukha, said: “Well said, well said, noble being.

52, 53. If met with among men or deities, such self-denial would pass for a miracle, as is practised by thee claiming it thy duty to give up thy life for the sake of thy master.

I will pay thee my homage, therefore, and set free thy king. Who, indeed, may be capable of doing evil to him who is dearer to thee than life?”

With these words the Niṣāda, without caring for the mandate of his king, listening to the voice of his compassion, paid honour to the king of swans, and released him from the snare. And Sumukha, the commander-in-chief, greatly rejoiced at the rescue of his king, fixed a glad and kind look on the Niṣāda and spoke:

54. “As thou hast rejoiced me now by the release of the king of swans, O thou source of gladness to [193] thy friends, mayst thou in the same way be rejoiced with thy friends and kinsmen for many thousands of years!

55. Then, that thy labour may not be fruit-less, well, take me and also this king of swans, and carrying us on thy shoulder-pole, free and unbound, show us to thy king in his zenana.

56. Beholding the king of swans with his minister, this ruler, no doubt, will show thee his gladness by a gift of riches larger than that thou didst dream of, a source to thee of great rejoicing.”

The Niṣāda acceded to his request, thinking, the king must see at all events this marvellous couple of swans, and placing them (in baskets) on his pole unhurt and unbound, showed those excellent swans to the king.

57. “Deign to see,” quoth he, “the wonderful present I offer you, my lord. Here is that famous king of swans, together with his commander-in-chief!”

On beholding those two foremost of swans, who by the glittering splendour of their lovely figures resembled two solid pieces of gold, the king filled with amazement and exulting with gladness said to the Niṣāda:

58. “How didst thou obtain possession of those two who remain in thy hands, unhurt and unbound, though able to fly away from thee who art on foot? Tell it me at length.”

Being thus addressed, the Niṣāda bowing to the king, answered:

59 - 62. “I had laid down many snares, O so cruel causes of pain, in pools and ponds, the places of recrea-tion of the birds. Then this foremost of swans, moving unsuspectingly, owing to his trustfulness, got his foot entangled in a hidden snare.

The other, though free, was keeping him company, and entreated me to take him in redemption for the life of his king, uttering in a human voice articulate and sweet-sounding language.

His ardent request derived its power from his readiness to sacrifice his own life. [194]

63. So great was the effect of his soft words and his strong deeds in behalf of his master, that I was converted to tenderness, and dismissed his lord together with my own cruel temper.

64. After which, rejoiced at the release of the king of birds, he returned many thanks and blessings to me, and instructed me to go up in this manner to you, that my labour, so he said, should not have been a burden by lack of reward.

65. And so it is out of gratitude for the deliverance of his king and in my behalf, that this most righteous being, whosoever he may be, who under the outward appearance of a bird roused in one moment tenderness of mind in the heart of a person like me, has arrived of his own accord together with his master at your zenana.”

The king was filled by these words with great joy and amazement. He assigned to the king of swans a golden throne with a footstool, a seat well becoming a king; for it had brilliant feet glittering with the lustre of various jewels, was spread with a most costly and lovely cover, and provided with a soft cushion on its back.

To Sumukha he offered a bamboo seat fit for a chief minister to sit upon. Then the Bodhisattva, considering that it was now the proper time to make a complimentary address, spoke to the king in a voice as soft as the sound of anklets.

66. “Thy body, adorned with lustre and loveliness, is in good health, I hope, O health-deserving prince. And so, I hope, is also that other body of thine which is made up of thy righteousness. Does it frequently emit, so to speak, its breath of pious discourses and gifts?

67. Thou hast dedicated thyself, hast thou not? to the task of protecting thy subjects, distributing reward or punishment in due time, so as to make both thy illustrious glory and the people's affection, together with their welfare, always increase?

68. Hast thou not the assistance of affectionate and honest ministers, averse to fraud and skilled in [195] the management of affairs, with whom to consider the interest of thy subjects? Thy mind is not indifferent to this important matter, I hope?

69. When the kings, thy vassals, after incurring abatement of their splendour by thy policy and vigour, entreat thee to show them mercy, thou wilt generously follow the impulse of pity, I hope, without, however, indulging in trustfulness, which is nothing but the sleep of carelessness?

70. Are thy actions, tending to secure the un-obstructed pursuit of dharma, artha, and kāma, not applauded by the virtuous, O hero among men, and widespread in the world, so to say, by the effect of thy renown? And thy enemies have but sighs to hurt them, I hope?”

In reply to these questions the king, manifesting by his gladness the placidity of his senses, The placidity of his senses is indicative of his having subdued his evil passions, so that he could give a satisfactory account of his royal occupations. In the Pāli redactions of our story, each question is immediately followed by its answer, which is affirmative, of course, and the wording of which exactly corresponds to the question.06 spoke to him:

71. “Now my welfare is assured in every respect, O swan, for I have obtained the long wished-for happiness of meeting with your holy persons.

72, 73. This man, having captured thee in the snare, did not hurt thee, I hope, in the exuberance of his joy with his pain-inflicting stick?

So it happens, in fact, when there arises calamity to birds, that the mind of those knaves, soiled by exulting joy, impels them to sinful actions.”

The Bodhisattva spoke:

74 - 77. “I did not suffer, great king, while in that most distressing condition, nor did this man behave towards me at all like an enemy.

When he perceived Sumukha staying there, though uncaught, out of love for me, as if he, too, had been caught, he addressed him with great kindness, prompted by curiosity and astonishment.

Afterwards, having been propitiated [196] by the gentle words of Sumukha, he released me from the snare, and setting me free, showed respect and honour to me.

It is for this reason that Sumukha, wishing this man's good, told him to bring us hither. May then our arrival cause happiness also to him!”

The king said:

78, 79. “Having eagerly longed for your arrival, I bid welcome here to both of you. The sight of you is a feast to my eyes and causes me extreme gladness.

As to that Niṣāda, I will bestow a rich gift upon him presently. Having shown kindness to both of you, he deserves a high reward.”

Then the king honoured the Niṣāda by a munificent gift of great wealth. After which, he again addressed the king of swans:

80. “Ye have come here to this residence, which is yours, indeed. Pray, set aside, then, cramping reserve with respect to me, and make known in what way and how I may serve your wants. For my riches are at your service.

81. A friend expressing his wants in frank speech, causes a greater satisfaction to a wealthy man, than he could obtain from his riches. For this reason, un-reservedness among friends is a great benefit.”

Then, being also very curious to converse with Sumukha, the king casting his admiring looks on him, addressed him thus:

82. “Surely, new acquaintances are not bold enough to speak frankly to the newly acquired friend, in whose mind they have not yet got footing. Still, they will use at least kind language, adorned by courteous terms.

83. It is for this reason that I beg also Thy Honour to favour me with thy conversation. So thou wouldst realise my desire of acquiring thy friendship and increase the gladness of my heart.”

On these words, Sumukha, the commander-in-chief of swans, bowing respectfully to the king, spoke:

84. “A conversation with thee who art great Indra's equal, is a kind of festival. Who, therefore, would not [197] feel that this token of thy friendly disposition sur-passed his wishes?

85, 86. But would it not have been an unbecoming act of insolence for an attendant to join in the conversa-tion of the two monarchs, of men and of birds, while they were exchanging lovely words of friendship?

No, a well-educated person does not act in that way. How, then, could I, knowing this, follow that way? On this account, great prince, I was silent, and if I need thy pardon, I deserve it.”

In reply to these words the king, expressing by his countenance his gladness and admiration, eulogised Sumukha.

87. “Justly the world takes delight in hearing the fame of thy virtues. Justly the king of swans made thee his friend. Such modesty and accomplished demeanour is displayed by none but those who have subdued their inner self.

88. Therefore I sincerely trust that these friendly relations, now commenced between us, will never be broken off. The meeting of pious persons, indeed, produces friendship.”

Then the Bodhisattva, understanding that the king was eagerly desirous of their friendship and inclined to show them his affection, addressed him in terms of praise:

89. “Following the impulse of thy generous nature thou hast acted towards us as one should act to one's best friend, although our acquaintance has only been made just now.

90. Whose heart, then, would not be won, illus-trious prince, by such honourable treatment as thou hast shown us?

91. Whatever profit thou expectest from relations with me, O lord, or however important thou mayst deem them, it is a matter of fact that thou hast displayed thy hospitable disposition by practising hospitality, O thou lover of virtues!

92. But this is no wonder in a self-subdued prince such as thou, who bearest thy royal duties for the [198] interest of thy subjects, intent on penance and profound contemplation, like a Muni. Thou, in truth, hadst but to follow the inclination of thy excellent nature to become a storehouse of virtues.

93. It is virtues that procure to their possessor the satisfaction of such praise, as I did celebrate of thee. They afford happiness, but in the strongholds of vice there dwells no bliss. What conscious being, then, knowing this to be the constant law as to virtue and vice, would resort to the wrong way which diverges from his good?

94. Not by military prowess nor by the strength of his treasury nor by a successful policy will a prince reach that high rank, which he may obtain even with-out exertion and expense, if he but follow the right path which consists in the cultivation of virtues.

95. Virtues are visited even by such bliss as attends the Lord of the Devas; the virtuous alone attain humility; virtues alone are the sources of glory; it is on them that the magnificence of sovereignty rests.

96. Virtues alone, possessing greater loveliness than moonshine, are able to appease enemies, be their mind never so ferocious by indulgence in jealous anger and pride, be their selfishness never so deep-rooted by a long continuance of hatred.

97. For this reason, O sovereign, whose rule earth obeys with its proud kings who bow to thy lustre, foster the love of virtues in thy people, setting them an example by the undiminished splendour of thy modesty and the rest of thy virtues.

98. The good of his subjects is the first care of a king, and the way leading to it tends to his bliss both (in this world and in the next). Or perhaps: tends to the happiness of both (his subjects and himself).07 And this end will be attained, if the king loves righteousness; for people like to follow the conduct of their ruler. Cp. Story 13, stanzas 38, 39.08 [199]

99. Mayst thou, then, rule thy land with righteous-ness, and may the Lord of the Celestials have thee in his guard! But though thy presence purifies those who rest on thee, yet must I leave thee now. The sorrow of my fellow-swans draws me to them, so to speak.”

The king and all those present approved of the words spoken by the Bodhisattva. Then he dismissed both excellent swans in the most honourable and kind terms.

The Bodhisattva mounted upward to the sky, which, adorned by the serene beauty of autumn, was as dark-blue as a spotless sword-blade, and followed by Sumukha, his commander-in-chief, as by his reflected image, joined his tribe of swans. And those, by the very sight of him, were filled with the utmost gladness.

100. And after some time that swan, a passionate lover as he was of compassion for his neighbour, came back to the king with his swans, and discoursed to him on the Law of Righteousness. And the king with respectfully bowed head in return honoured him.

In this way, then, the virtuous, even when in dis-tress behave in such manner as cannot be imitated by the impious; how much less are the latter able to follow up the conduct of the virtuous, when favoured by fortune!

[This story is also to be adduced when praising pious language: “In this manner a pious language conduces to the good of both.” Viz. the speaker and the listener.09

Likewise, when treating of pious friends: “In this manner they who possess a pious friend will be successful even in dangerous circumstances.”

Also to exemplify the fact of the presbyter Ānanda having been a companion (to the Lord) still in previous births: “So this presbyter sharing the vicissitudes of the Bodhisattva, cherished affection and veneration (for the Lord) for a long, long time.”] [200]

This much-renowned tale of the two fabulous swans is thrice told in the collection of Pāli Jātakas, edited by Fausböll: No. 502 Haṁsa-jātakaṁ, No. 533 Cullahaṁsajātakaṁ, and No. 534 Mahāhaṁsajātakaṁ. Of them No. 502 is almost an abridgement of No. 534. These two show another redaction of the tale than that which is contained in No. 533. Our author used some rescension closely related to the redaction of No. 533; some of his stanzas are almost identical with the Pāli gāthās.

From a note in Tawney's translation of the Kathāsaritsāgara (II, p. 506) I learn that Rājendralāla Mitra found the story of the golden swans in the Bodhisattva Avadāna, one of the Hodgson MSS. It is probable that the work quoted is the Bodhisattvāvadānakalpalatā, which is being edited by Sarac Candra Dās, in the Bibliotheca Indica. But as the story in question has not yet been published and the list of contents in the preface of that work is here of no help, I could not find out in which pallava it is told.

Moreover compare Kathāsaritsāgara 3, 26-35 and 114, 17 foll. The self-denial of the commander-in-chief has its counterpart in the behaviour of the sārasa bird in the main story of the third book of the Hitopadesa.