Ja 16 Tipallatthamigajātaka
The Story about the Deer having Three Postures (1s)
Alternative Title: Tipallatthajātaka (Comm)
This story is related to the previous one, but its opposite: in the present the Buddha’s son Rāhula is so keen to keep the rules he even sleeps in the outhouse at night. The Buddha explains that he was also conscientious in the past, and that was what saved his life.
The Bodhisatta = uncle deer (mātulamiga),
Uppalavaṇṇā = the mother (mātā),
Rāhula = the young nephew deer (bhāgineyyamigapotaka).
Present Source: Ja 16 Tipallatthamigajātaka,
Quoted at: Ja 319 Tittirajātaka,
Present Compare: Vin Pāc 5.
Keywords: Amenable, Concientious, Animals.
“In all three postures.” This story was told by the Teacher while dwelling at the Badarika monastery in Kosambī, about the elder Rāhula whose heart was set on observing the rules of the Saṅgha.
Once when the Teacher was dwelling in the Aggāḷava Temple nearby the town of Āḷavi, many female lay-disciples and nuns used to flock there to hear the Dhamma preached. The preaching was in the daytime, but as time
Thereon the monks said to the venerable Rāhula, “Sir, the Fortunate One has laid down this precept, and now you will please find quarters of your own.” Now, before this, the monks, out of respect for the father and because of the anxious desire of the son to observe the rules of the Saṅgha, had welcomed the youth as if the place were his; they had fitted up a little bed for him, and had given him a cloth to make a pillow with. But on the day of our story they would not even give him house-room, so fearful were they of transgressing.
The excellent Rāhula went neither to the One with Ten Powers as being his father, nor to Sāriputta, Captain of the Dhamma, as being his preceptor, nor to the Great Moggallāna as being his teacher, nor to the elder Ānanda as being his uncle; but betook himself to the One with Ten Powers’ outhouse and took up his abode there as though in a heavenly mansion. Now in the One with Ten Powers’ outhouse the door is always closely shut: the levelled floor is of perfumed earth; flowers and garlands are festooned round the walls; and all night long a lamp burns there. But it was not this splendour which prompted Rāhula to take up his residence here. Nay, it was simply because the monks had told him to find quarters for himself, and because he reverenced instruction and yearned to observe the rules of the Saṅgha. Indeed, from time to time the monks, to test him, when they saw him coming from quite a distance, used to throw down a hand-broom or a little dust-sweepings, and then ask who had thrown it down, after Rāhula had come in. “Well, Rāhula came that way,” would be the remark, but never did the future elder say he knew nothing about it. On the contrary, he used to remove the litter and humbly ask pardon of the monk, nor go away till he was assured that he was pardoned; so anxious was he to observe the rules. And it was solely this anxiety which made him take up his dwelling in the outhouse.
Now, though day had not yet dawned, the Teacher halted at the door of the outhouse and coughed, “Ahem.” “Ahem,” responded the venerable Rāhula. “Who is there?” said the Buddha. “It is I, Rāhula,” was the reply; and out came the young man and bowed low. “Why have you been sleeping here, Rāhula?” “Because I had nowhere to go to. Up till now, sir, the monks have been very kind to me; but such is their present fear of erring
Then thought the Teacher to himself, “If they treat even Rāhula like this, what will they not do to other youths whom they admit to the Saṅgha?” And his heart was moved within him for the Dhamma. So, at an early hour he had the monks assembled, and questioned the Captain of the Dhamma thus, “I suppose you at all events, Sāriputta, know where Rāhula is now quartered?”
“No, sir, I do not.”
“Sāriputta, Rāhula was living this day in the outhouse. Sāriputta, if you treat Rāhula like this, what will be your treatment of other youths who go forth in this dispensation? Such treatment will not retain those who join us. In future, keep your novices in your own quarters for a day or two, and only on the third day let them lodge out, taking care to acquaint yourself with their lodging.” With this rider, the Teacher laid down the precept.
Gathering together in the Dhamma Hall, the monks spoke of the goodness of Rāhula. “See, sirs, how anxious was Rāhula to observe the rules. When told to find his own lodging, he did not say, ‘I am the son of the One with Ten Powers; what have you to do with quarters? You turn out!’ No; not a single monk did he oust, but quartered himself in the outhouse.”
In the past a certain king of Magadha was reigning in Rājagaha; and in those days the Bodhisatta, having been born a stag, was living in the forest at the head of a herd of deer. Now his sister brought her son to him, saying: “Monk, teach your nephew here the ruses of deer.” “Certainly,” said the Bodhisatta, “go away now, my boy, and come back at such and such a time to be taught.” Punctually, at the time his uncle mentioned, the young stag was there and received instruction in the ruses of deer.
One day as he was ranging the woods he was caught in a snare and uttered the plaintive cry of a captive. Away fled the herd and told the mother of her son’s capture. She came to her brother and asked him whether his nephew had been taught the ruses of deer. “Fear not;
1. “In all three postures – on his back or sides
Your son is versed; he’s trained to use eight hoofs, This the commentator explains as having two hoofs on each foot, referring to the cloven hoof of the deer.
And save at midnight never slakes his thirst;
As he lies couched on earth, he lifeless seems,
And only with his under-nostril breathes.
Six tricks i.e. the three mentioned in line 1, and the three mentioned in lines 2, 3, and 5, respectively. my nephew knows to cheat his foes.”
Thus did the Bodhisatta console his sister by showing her how thoroughly her son had mastered the ruses of deer. Meantime the young stag on being caught in the snare did not struggle, but lay down at full length See infra p. 62, l. 10. on his side, with his legs stretched out taut and rigid. He pawed up the ground round his hoofs so as to shower the grass and earth about; relieved nature; let his head fall; lolled out his tongue; beslavered his body all over; swelled himself out by drawing in the wind; turned up his eyes; breathed only with the lower nostril, holding his breath with the upper one; and made himself generally so rigid and so stiff as to look like a corpse. Even the blue-bottles swarmed round him; and here and there crows settled.
The hunter came up and smacked the stag on the belly with his hand, remarking, “He must have been caught early this morning; he’s going bad already.” So saying, the man loosed the stag from his bonds, saying to himself, “I’ll cut him up here where he lies, and take the flesh home with me.” But as the man guilelessly set to work to gather sticks and leaves (to make a fire with), the young stag rose to his feet, shook himself, stretched out his neck, and, like a little cloud scudding before a mighty wind, sped swiftly back to his mother.
After repeating what he had said as to Rāhula’s having shown no less anxiety in time past to keep rules than in the present, the Teacher made the connection and identified the Jātaka by saying: “Rāhula was the young stag of those days, Uppalavaṇṇā his mother, and I the stag his uncle.”
last updated: November 2021