Ja 19 Āyācitabhattajātaka
The Birth Story about the Feasts following a Vow (1s)

In the present the monks hear about a tradition of making a sacrifice following a journey, after making a vow to the gods, and ask the Buddha if any good can come of it. The Buddha replies that it cannot, and tells a story of someone who wanted to make a sacrifice to a Tree Devatā, only to be reproved by that very same god.

The Bodhisatta = Tree Devatā (Rukkhadevatā).

Keywords: Restraint, Delusion, Devas.

“If you would be released after dying.” {1.169} This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana about the offering of a sacrifice under vow to gods. Tradition says that in those days folk when going a journey on business, used to slay living creatures and offer them as a sacrifice to gods, and set out on their way, after making this vow, “If we come safely back with a profit, we will give you another sacrifice.” And when they did come safely back with a profit, the idea that this was all due to gods made them slay a number of living creatures and offer them up as a sacrifice to obtain a release from their vow.

When the monks became aware of this, they asked the Fortunate One, saying: “Can there be any good in this, sir?”

The Fortunate One told this story of the past.

In the past in the Kāsi country the householder of a certain little village had promised a sacrifice to the Devatā of a banyan tree which stood at the entrance to the village. Afterwards when he returned, he slew a number [1.54] of creatures and betook himself to the tree to get released from his vow. But the Tree Devatā, standing in the fork of its tree, repeated this verse:

1. Sace mucce pecca mucce, muccamāno hi bajjhati,
Na hevaṁ dhīrā muccanti, mutti bālassa bandhanan-ti.

If you would be released after dying, know that releasing surely binds you, for the wise do not release in this way, such release is only a fool’s bondage.

Thenceforth, men refrained from such taking of life, and by walking in righteousness thronged thereafter the city of the Devas.

His lesson ended, the Teacher showed the connection and identified the Jātaka, by saying: “I was the Tree Devatā of those days.”