Ja 15 Kharādiyajātaka
The Story about the Deer (named) Kharādiyā (1s)
In the present a monk proves to be unteachable and is brought to the Buddha who explains that he was like this in a previous life, and tells how he was once a deer who could not be taught, and so fell to a hunter.
The Bodhisatta = the admonishing deer (ovādamiga),
Uppalavaṇṇā = (Kharādiyā,) his sister (bhaginī),
the disobedient monk = the nephew deer (bhāgineyya miga).
Keywords: Recalcitrance, Animals.
“For when a deer.” This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana about an unruly monk. Tradition says that this monk was unruly and would not heed admonition. Accordingly, the Teacher asked him, saying: “Is it true, as they say, that you are unruly and will not heed admonition?”
“It is true, Fortunate One,” was the reply.
“So too in bygone days,” said the Teacher, “you were unruly and would not heed the admonition of the wise and good – with the result that you were caught in a trap and met your death.” And so saying, he told this story of the past.
In the past when Brahmadatta reigned in Benares the Bodhisatta was born a deer and dwelt in the forest at the head of a herd of deer. His sister brought her son to him, saying: “Brother, this is your nephew; teach him the deer’s ruses.” And thus she placed her son under the Bodhisatta’s care. Said the latter to his nephew, “Come at such and such a time and I will give you a lesson.” But the nephew made no appearance at the time appointed. And, as on that day, so on seven days did he skip his lesson and fail to learn the ruses of deer; and at last, as he was roaming about, he was caught in a trap. His mother came and said to the Bodhisatta, “Brother, was not your nephew taught deer’s ruses?”
“Take no thought for the unteachable rascal,” said the Bodhisatta;
1. “For when a deer has twice four hoofs to run
And branching antlers armed with countless tines,
And when by seven tricks he’s saved himself,
I teach him then, Kharādiyā, no more.” In the gāthā I have translated not the meaningless kālāhi of Fausböll’s text, nor the easy variant kālehi, which is substituted in the gloss, but kalāhi, the more difficult reading which occurs in some Sinhalese MSS, and which is read by Fausböll in the analogous story No. 16. This reading is also given by Dickson in JRAS Ceylon, 1884, p. 188, from the Jātaka Pela Sanne. If kālehi be read, the translation becomes, “I do not try to teach one who has played truant seven times.” In the JRAS Ceylon, 1884, p. 125, Künte says, “I have little doubt that kalāhi is the original form of the popular sing-song, and kālehi a mistake for it, and that on this mistake the grammarian compiler has built up his silly little story about the deer who would not go to school.”
But the hunter killed the wilful deer that was caught in the snare, and departed with its flesh.
When the Teacher had ended this lesson in support of what he had said as to the unruliness of the monk in bygone days as well as in the present, he showed the connection, and identified the Jātaka, by saying: “In those days this unruly monk was the nephew-deer, Uppalavaṇṇā See the interesting Life of this therī in Mrs Bode’s ‘Women Leaders of the Buddhist Reformation’ (Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1893, pp. 540-552), where it is explained that Uppalavaṇṇā “came by that name because she had a skin like the colour in the heart of the dark-blue lotus.” was the sister, and I myself the deer who gave the admonition.”
last updated: November 2021