Ja 14 Vātamigajātaka
The Birth Story about the Wind-Deer (1s)

In the present an ascetic, and highly regarded, monk is enticed back to his familial home by the power of taste. When this is told to the Buddha he relates a story in which the most timid of creatures is enticed into the palace by taste.

The Bodhisatta = the king of Benares (Bārāṇasirājā),
the slave girl = (the gardener) Sañjaya,
Cullapiṇḍapātika = the wind deer (vātamiga).

Present Compare: Dhp-a XXVI.32 Sundarasamuddatthera.

Keywords: Attachment, Sense-Desire, Animals.

“It seems that there is nothing worse than tastes.” [1.44] This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana, about the elder Tissa, called Cullapiṇḍapātika [the younger alms gatherer]. Tradition says that, while the Teacher was dwelling at the Bamboo Grove near Rājagaha, the scion of a wealthy house, prince Tissa by name, coming one day to the Bamboo Grove and there hearing a discourse from the Teacher, wished to join the Saṅgha, but, being refused because his parents would not give their consent, obtained their consent by following Raṭṭhapāla’s See Raṭṭhapālasutta in the MN (No. 83), translated in the Ceylon R.A.S. Journal, 1847. See also Vinaya, Vol. iii. pages 13 and 148. example and refusing food for seven days, and finally took the vows with the Teacher.

About a fortnight after admitting this young man, the Teacher went from the Bamboo Grove to Jetavana, where the young nobleman undertook the thirteen ascetic practices These are meritorious ascetic practices for quelling the passions, of which the third is an undertaking to eat no food except alms received direct from the giver in the monk’s alms-bowl. Hence “ticket-food” (see Jātaka No. 5) was also inadmissible. and passed his time in going his round for alms from house to house, omitting none. Under the name of the elder Cullapiṇḍapātika Tissa, he became as bright and shining a light in the Buddha’s dispensation as the moon in the vault of heaven.

A festival having been proclaimed at this time at Rājagaha, the elder’s mother and father laid in a silver casket the trinkets he used to wear as a layman, and took it to heart, bewailing thus, “At other festivals our son used to wear this or that finery as he kept the festival; and he, our only son, has been taken away by the ascetic Gotama to the town of Sāvatthi. Where is our son sitting now or standing?” Now a slave girl who came to the house, noticed the lady of the house weeping, and asked her why she was weeping; and the lady told her all.

“What, madam, was your son fond of?” “Of such and such a thing,” replied the lady. “Well, if you will give me authority in this house, I’ll fetch your son back.” “Very good,” said the lady in assent, and gave the girl her expenses and dispatched her with a large following, saying: “Go, and manage to fetch my son back.”

So away the girl rode in a palanquin to Sāvatthi, where she took up her residence in the street which the elder used to frequent for alms. {1.157} Surrounding herself with servants of her own, and never allowing the elder to see his father’s people about, she watched the moment when the elder entered the street and at once bestowed on him an alms of food and drink. And when she had bound him in the bonds of the craving to taste, she got him eventually to seat himself in the house, till she knew that her gifts of food as alms had put him in her power. Then she feigned sickness and lay down in an inner chamber.

In the due course of his round for alms at the proper time, the elder came to the door of her house; and her people took the elder’s bowl and made him sit down in the house.

When he had seated himself, he said: “Where is the lay-sister?” “She’s ill, sir; she would be glad to see you.”

Bound as he was by the bonds of the craving to taste, he broke his vow and obligation, and went to where the woman was lying. [1.45]

Then she told him the reason of her coming, and so wrought on him that, all because of his being hound by the bonds of the craving to taste, she made him forsake the Saṅgha; when he was in her power, she put him in the palanquin and came back with a large following to Rājagaha again. All this was noised abroad.

Sitting in the Dhamma Hall, the monks discussed the matter, saying: “Sirs, it is reported that a slave girl has bound in the bonds of the craving of taste, and has carried off, the elder Tissa Cullapiṇḍapātika.” Entering the Hall the Teacher sat down on his jewelled seat, and said: “What, monks, is the subject of discussion in this conclave?” They told him the incident.

“Monks,” said he, “this is not the first time that, in bondage to the craving of taste, he has fallen into her power; in bygone days too he fell into her power in like manner.” And so saying, he told this story of the past.

In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares he had a gardener named Sañjaya. Now there came into the king’s pleasure gardens a Wind-Deer, which fled away at the sight of Sañjaya, but the latter let it go without terrifying the timid creature. After several visits the antelope used to roam about in the pleasure gardens. Now the gardener was in the habit of gathering flowers and fruits and taking them day by day to the king. Said the king to him one day, “Have you noticed anything strange, friend gardener, in the pleasure gardens?” “Only, sir, that a Wind-Deer has come about the grounds.” “Could you catch it, do you think?” “Oh, yes; if I had a little honey, I’d bring it right into your majesty’s palace.”

The king ordered the honey to be given to the man and he went off with it to the pleasure gardens, where he first anointed with the honey the grass at the spots frequented by the deer, {1.158} and then hid himself. When the deer came and tasted the honied grass it was so snared by the lust of taste that it would go nowhere else but only to the pleasure gardens. Marking the success of his snare, the gardener began gradually to show himself. The appearance of the man made the deer take to flight for the first day or two, but growing familiar with the sight of him, it gathered confidence and gradually came to eat grass from the man’s hand. He, noting that the creature’s confidence had been won, first strewed the path as thick as a carpet with broken boughs; then tying a gourd full of honey on his shoulder and sticking a bunch of grass in his waist-cloth, he kept dropping wisps of the honied grass in front of the deer till at last he got it right inside the palace. No sooner was the deer inside than they shut the door. At sight of men the deer, in fear and trembling for its life, dashed to and fro about the hall; and the king coming down from his chamber above, and seeing the trembling creature, said: “So timid is the Wind-Deer that for a whole week it will not revisit a spot where it has so much as seen a man; and if it has once been frightened anywhere, it never goes back there again all its life long. Yet, [1.46] ensnared by the lust of taste, this wild thing from the jungle has actually come to a place like this. Truly, my friends, there is nothing viler in the world than this craving for taste.” And he put his teaching into this verse:

1. Na kiratthi rasehi pāpiyo,
Āvāsehi va, santhavehi vā.
Vātamigaṁ gehanissitaṁ,
Vasam-ānesi rasehi Sañjayo ti.

It seems that there is nothing worse than tastes, amongst those in homes, or acquaintances. The wind-deer, who depended on his home, was brought under Sañjaya’s control by taste.

And with these words he let the antelope go back to its forest again. {1.159}

When the Teacher had ended his lesson, and had repeated what he had said as to that monk’s having fallen into that woman’s power in bygone days as well as in the present time, he showed the connection and identified the Jātaka, by saying: “In those days this slave girl was Sañjaya, Cullapiṇḍapātika was the wind-antelope, and I myself was the king of Benares.”