Ja 32 Naccajātaka See Plate xxvii (11) of the Stūpa of Bharhut (where a fragment of a carving of this story is figured), Benfey’s Pañcatantra i. p. 280, and Hahn’s Sagewiss. Studien, p. 69. cf. also Herodotus, vi. 129.
The Story about the Dance (1s)
In the present a rich man ordains in the Saṅgha, and makes sure he has all provisions for his life. When taken to the Buddha he flings off his clothes in protest, and later disrobes. The Buddha tells a story of how the king of the birds allowed his daughter to choose a suitor. She chose a peacock, but when he danced for her, he exposed himself, and the king reprimanded him, and gave her to another.
The Bodhisatta = the king of the geese (haṁsarājā),
the monk with many belongings = the peacock (mora).
Keywords: Restraint, Modesty, Animals, Birds.
“A pleasing note.” This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana, about a monk with many belongings. The incident is just the same as in the Devadhammajātaka [Ja 6] above.
Tradition tells us that, on the death of his wife, a householder of Sāvatthi joined the Saṅgha. When he was joining, he caused to be built for himself a chamber to live in, a room for the fire, and a store-room; and not till he had stocked his store-room with ghee, rice, and the like, did he finally join. Even after he had become a monk, he used to send for his servants and make them cook him what he liked to eat. He was richly provided with the requisites – having an entire change of clothing for night and another for day; and he dwelt aloof on the outskirts of the monastery.
One day when he had taken out his cloths and bedding and had spread them out to dry in his chamber, a number of monks from the country, who were on a pilgrimage from monastery to monastery, came in their journeying to his cell and found all these belongings.
“Whose are these?” they asked. “Mine, sirs,” he replied. “What, sir?” they cried, “this upper-cloth and that as well; this under-robe as well as that; and that bedding too, is it all yours?” “Yes, nobody’s but mine.” “Sir,” they said, “the Fortunate One has only sanctioned three cloths; and yet, though the Buddha, to whose dispensation you have devoted yourself, is so simple in his wants, you forsooth have amassed all this stock of requisites. Come! We must take you before the One with Ten Powers.” And, so saying, they went off with him to the Teacher.
Becoming aware of their presence, the Teacher said: “Wherefore is it, monks, that you have brought the monk against his will?” “Sir, this monk is well-off and has quite a stock of requisites.”
“Is this report true, monk,” said the Teacher, “that you have many belongings?” “Yes, sir.” “Why have you come to own so many belongings?” Without listening beyond this point, the monk tore off the whole of his raiment, and stood stark naked before the Teacher, crying, “I’ll go about like this!” “Oh, fie!” exclaimed every one. The man ran away, and reverted to the lower state of a layman.
Gathering together in the Dhamma Hall, the monks talked of his impropriety in behaving in that manner right before the Teacher. In came the Teacher and asked what was theme of discussion in the conclave. “Sir,” was the answer, “we were discussing the impropriety of that monk, and saying that in your presence and right before all the four classes of your followers i.e. Monks, nuns, lay-brothers, and lay-sisters. he had so far lost all sense of shame as to stand there stark naked as a village-urchin, and that, finding himself loathed by everyone, he relapsed to the lower state and lost the faith.” Said the Teacher, “Monks, this is not the only loss his shamelessness has caused him; for in bygone days he lost a jewel of a wife just as now he has lost the jewel of the dispensation.” And so saying, he told this story of the past.
In the past, in the first cycle of the world’s history, the quadrupeds chose the lion as their king, the fishes the monster-fish Ānanda, and the birds the Golden Mallard [Ja 270]. Now the king Golden
Carried away by his extreme joy, the peacock exclaimed, “Until this day you have never seen how active I am,” and in defiance of all decency he spread his wings and began to dance; and in dancing he exposed himself.
Filled with shame, king Golden Mallard said: “This fellow has neither modesty within his heart nor decency in his outward behaviour; I certainly will not give my daughter to one so shameless.” And there in the midst of all that assembly of the birds, he repeated this verse:
1. “A pleasing note is yours, a lovely back,
A neck in hue like lapis lazuli;
A fathom’s length your outstretched feathers reach.
But still, your dancing loses you my child.”
Right in the face of the whole gathering king Royal Mallard gave his daughter to a young mallard, a nephew of his. Covered with shame at the loss of the mallard princess,
“Thus, monks,” said the Teacher, “this is not the only time his breach of modesty has caused him loss; just as it has now caused him to lose the jewel of the dispensation, so in bygone days it lost him a jewel of a wife.” When he had ended this lesson, he showed the connection and identified the Jātaka by saying: “The monk with the many belongings was the peacock of those days, and I myself the Royal Mallard.”
last updated: November 2021