Ja 13 Kaṇḍinajātaka
The Birth Story about the Dart (1s)
Alternative Title: Kaṇḍijātaka (Cst)
In the present a monk, through love of his former wife, is in danger of falling away from the spiritual life. The Buddha tells a story about the same person’s past in which, as a stag attached to his doe, he had been caught, killed and roasted because of his attachment.
The Bodhisatta = the Devatā who taught Dhamma (Dhammadesakadevatā),
the dissatisfied monk = the hill stag (pabbateyyamiga),
his former wife = the young doe (migapotikā).
Present Source: Ja 423 Indriyajātaka,
Quoted at: Ja 13 Kaṇḍinajātaka, Ja 145 Rādhajātaka, Ja 191 Ruhakajātaka, Ja 318 Kaṇaverajātaka, Ja 380 Āsaṅkajātaka, Ja 523 Alambusājātaka.
Keywords: Attachment, Devas, Animals.
“Cursed be the dart, the barb.” This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana about the temptation caused to monks by the wives of their mundane life. This will be related in the Indriyajātaka [Ja 423] in the Eighth Book.
The story is that a young man of good family at Sāvatthi heard the Teacher’s preaching, and thinking it impossible to lead a holy life, perfectly complete and pure, as a householder, he determined to become an ascetic in the dispensation which leads to safety and so make an end of misery. So he gave up his house and property to his wife and children, and asked the Teacher to ordain him. The Teacher did so. As he was the junior in his going about for alms with his teachers and instructors, and as the monks were many, he got no chair either in laymen’s houses or in the refectory, but only a stool or a bench at the end of the novices, his food was tossed him hastily on a ladle, he got gruel made of broken lumps of rice, solid food stale or decaying, or sprouts dried and burnt; and this was not enough to keep him alive. He took what he had got to the wife he had left: she took his bowl, saluted him, emptied it and gave him instead well-cooked gruel and rice with sauce and curry.
The monk was captivated by the love of such flavours and could not leave his wife. She thought she would test his affection. One day she had a countryman cleansed with white clay and set down in her house with some others of his people whom she had sent for, and she gave them something to eat and drink. They sat eating and enjoying it. At the house-door she had some bullocks bound to wheels and a cart set ready. She herself sat in a back room cooking cakes. Her husband came and stood at the door. Seeing him, one old servant told his mistress that there was an elder at the door. “Salute him and bid him pass on.”
But though he did so repeatedly, he saw the monk remaining there and told his mistress. She came, and lifting up the curtain to see, she cried, “This is the father of my sons.” She came out and saluted him: taking his bowl and making him enter she gave him food: when he had eaten she saluted again and said: “Sir, you are a saint now: we have been staying in this house all this time; but there can be no proper householder’s life without a master, so we will take another house and go far into the country: be zealous in your good works, and forgive me if I am doing wrong.” For a time her husband was as if his heart would break. Then he said: “I cannot leave you, do not go, I will come back to my worldly life; send a layman’s garment to such and such a place, I will give up my bowl and robes and come back to you.” She agreed. The monk went to his monastery, and giving up his bowl and robes to his teachers and instructors he explained, in answer to their questions, that he could not leave his wife and was going back to worldly life.
Said the Fortunate One to the monk, “Monk, it was because of this very woman that in bygone days you met your death and were roasted over glowing embers.” The monks asked the Fortunate One to explain this. The Fortunate One made clear what had been concealed from them by rebirth.
(Henceforth we shall omit the words respecting the monk’s request for an explanation and the making clear what had been concealed by rebirth; and we shall only say, “Told this story of the past.” When only this is said, all the rest is to be supplied and repeated as above – the request, the simile of setting free the moon from the clouds, and the making clear what had been concealed by rebirth.)
In the past in the kingdom of Magadha the king was reigning in Rājagaha, and when the crops were grown the deer were exposed to great perils, so that they retired to the forest. Now a certain mountain-stag of the forest, having become attached to a doe who came from near a village, was moved by his love for her to accompany her when the deer returned home from the forest. Said she, “You, sir, are but a simple stag of the forest, and the neighbourhood of villages is beset with peril and danger. So don’t come down with us.” But he, because of his great love for her, would not stay, but came with her.
When they knew that it was the time for the deer to come down from the hills, the Magadha folk posted themselves in ambush by the road; and a hunter was lying in wait just by the road along which the pair were travelling. Scenting a man, the young doe suspected that a hunter was in ambush, and let the stag go on first, following herself at some distance. With a single arrow the hunter laid the stag low, and the doe seeing him struck was off like the wind. Then that hunter came forth from his hiding place and skinned the stag and lighting a fire cooked the sweet flesh over the embers. Having eaten and drunk, he took home the remainder of the bleeding carcass on his carrying-pole to regale his children.
Now in those days the Bodhisatta was a Devatā dwelling in that very grove of trees, and he marked what had come to pass. “ ’Twas not father or mother, but passion alone that destroyed this foolish deer.
1. Dhi-r-atthu kaṇḍinaṁ, sallaṁ, purisaṁ gāḷhavedhinaṁ,
Dhi-r-atthu taṁ janapadaṁ yatthitthī pariṇāyikā,
Te cāpi dhikkitā sattā ye itthīnaṁ vasaṁ gatā ti.
Cursed be the dart, the barb, that strongly pierces into a person, cursed be the country where women are the advisors of the king, blameable are those beings who come under the sway of women.
Thus in a single verse were the three infamies comprised by the Bodhisatta, and the woods re-echoed as he taught the Dhamma with all the mastery and grace of a Buddha.
His lesson ended, the Teacher preached the Four Truths, at the close whereof the love-sick monk was established in the Fruit of the First Path. Having told the two stories, the Teacher showed the connection linking the two together, and identified the Jātaka.
(Henceforward, we shall omit the words ‘Having told the two stories,’ and simply say ‘showed the connection...’ the words omitted are to be supplied as before.)
“In those days,” said the Teacher, “the love-sick monk was the mountain-stag; his mundane wife was the young doe, and I was myself the Devatā who preached the Dhamma showing the defilement of passion.”
last updated: August 2023