Ja 45 Rohiṇījātaka
The Birth Story about (the Slave) Rohiṇī (1s)

Alternative Title: Rohiṇijātaka (Cst)

In the present a maid kills her mother while trying to swat mosquitos which had landed on her. The Buddha tells a story of the exact same circumstances happening in the past to the same people in their previous incarnations.

The Bodhisatta = the great wealthy man (mahāseṭṭhi),
the mother = the same in the past (mātā),
the daughter = the same in the past (dhītā).

Keywords: Foolishness, Recklessness, Animals, Insects.

“Worse than an intelligent foe.” This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana, about a maid servant of the Lord High Treasurer, Anāthapiṇḍika. For he is said to have had a maid-servant named Rohiṇī, whose aged mother came to where the girl was pounding rice, and lay down. The flies came round the old woman and stung her as with a needle, so she cried to her daughter, “The flies are stinging me, my dear; do drive them away.” “Oh! I’ll drive them away, mother,” said the girl, lifting her pestle to the flies which had settled on her mother. Then, crying, “I’ll kill them!” she smote her mother such a blow as to kill the old woman outright. Seeing what she had done the girl began to weep and cry, “Oh! Mother, mother!”

The news was brought to the Lord High Treasurer, who, after having the body burnt, went his way to the monastery, and told the Teacher what had happened. “This is not the first time, layman,” said the Teacher, “that in Rohiṇī’s anxiety to kill the flies on her mother, she has struck her mother dead with a pestle; she did precisely the same in times past.” Then at Anāthapiṇḍika’s request, he told this story of the past.

In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born the son of the Lord High Treasurer, and came to be Lord High Treasurer himself at his father’s death. And he, too, had a maid-servant whose name was Rohiṇī. And her mother, in like manner, went to where the daughter was pounding rice, and lay down, and called [1.118] out, ‘Do drive these flies off me, my dear,’ and in just the same way she struck her mother with a pestle, and killed her, and began to weep.

Hearing of what had happened, {1.249} the Bodhisatta reflected: ‘Here, in this world, even an enemy, with sense, would be preferable,’ and recited these lines:

1. Seyyo amitto medhāvī yañ-ce bālānukampako,
Passa Rohiṇikaṁ jammiṁ, mātaraṁ hantvāna, socatī ti.

Worse than an intelligent foe is a fool who has compassion, look at that common girl Rohiṇī: killing her mother, she grieved.

In these lines in praise of the wise, did the Bodhisatta preach the Dhamma.

“This is not the first time, layman,” said the Teacher, “that in Rohiṇī’s anxiety to kill flies she has killed her own mother instead.” This lesson ended, he showed the connection and identified the Jātaka by saying: “The mother and daughter of today were also mother and daughter of those bygone times, and I myself the Lord High Treasurer.”