Ja 12 The Story about the Deer named Nigrodha

In the present the Buddha defends a nun who was found to be pregnant as it happened before her ordination. She later has a child, who becomes a famous monk in the dispensation. The Buddha then tells a story of two herds of deer in previous times, and how the king of one, Sākha, condemned a pregnant doe to die for the king’s lunch; while the other king, Nigrodha, stepped in to take her place. The king of Benares, impressed with his compassion, decided to free all animals in his kingdom (full story).

1. Nigrodham-eva seveyya, na Sākham-upasaṁvase,
Nigrodhasmiṁ mataṁ seyyo, yañ-ce Sākhasmi jīvitan-ti.

Associate with Nigrodha, associate not with Sākha, better is death with Nigrodha, than is having life with Sākha.

In this connection, associate with Nigrodha, my dear, you, or another, who desires benefit for oneself, should approach and associate with, keep company with, Nigrodha.

Associate not with Sākha, but you should not associate with the deer Sākha, having approached you should not associate, you should not make a living dependent on this one.

Better is death with Nigrodha, better, preferable, best is death at the feet of king Nigrodha.

Than is having life with Sākha, but whoever has life in the presence of Sākha, that is neither better, nor preferable, nor best, this is the meaning.