Ja 115 Anusāsikajātaka
The Story about One who gave Warnings (1s)

In the present one greedy nun receives dainties from a certain quarter of town, and warns the other nuns off from that area, telling them how dangerous it is. One day a ram breaks her leg on the alms round. The Buddha tells how she used to be a bird in the past who employed a similar tactic, and was cut in two.

The Bodhisatta = the elder bird (sakuṇajeṭṭhaka),
the nun who warned others off = the bird who warned others off (anusāsikā sakuṇikā).

Keywords: Greed, Dissimulation, Animals, Birds.

“The greed-denouncing bird.” This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana, about a nun who gave a warning to others. For we are told that she came of a good Sāvatthi family, but that from the day of her entrance into the Saṅgha she failed of her duty and was filled with a gluttonous spirit; she used to seek alms in quarters of the city unvisited by other nuns. And dainty food was given her there. Now her gluttony made her afraid that other nuns might go there too and take away from her part of the food. Casting about for a device to stop them from going and to keep everything to herself, she warned [1.258] the other nuns that it was a dangerous quarter, troubled by a fierce elephant, a fierce horse, and a fierce dog. And she besought them not to go there for alms. Accordingly not a single nun gave so much as a look in that direction.

Now one day on her way through this district for alms, as she was hurrying into a house there, a fierce ram butted her with such violence as to break her leg. Up ran the people and set her leg and brought her on a litter to the convent of nuns. And all the nuns tauntingly said her broken leg came of her going where she had warned them not to go.

Not long after the Saṅgha came to hear of this; and one day in the Dhamma Hall {1.429} the monks spoke of how this nun had got her leg broken by a fierce ram in a quarter of the city against which she had warned the other nuns; and they condemned her conduct. Entering the Hall at this moment, the Teacher asked, and was told, what they were discussing. “As now, monks,” said he, “so too in a past time she gave warnings which she did not follow herself; and then as now she came to harm.” So saying, he told this story of the past.

In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born a bird, and growing up became king of the birds and came to the Himālayas with thousands of birds in his train. During their stay in that place, a certain fierce bird used to go in quest of food along a highway where she found rice, beans, and other grain dropped by passing wagons. Casting about how best to keep the others from coming there too, she addressed them as follows, “The highway is full of peril. Along it go elephants and horses, wagons drawn by fierce oxen, and such like dangerous things. And as it is impossible to take wing on the instant, don’t go there at all.” And because of her warning, the other birds dubbed her Anusāsikā [Warner].

Now one day when she was feeding along the highway she heard the sound of a carriage coming swiftly along the road, and turned her head to look at it. “Oh it’s quite a long way off,” thought she and went on as before. Up swift as the wind came the carriage, and before she could rise, the wheel had crushed her and whirled on its way. At the muster, the king marked her absence and ordered search to be made for her. And at last she was found cut in two on the highway and the news was brought to the king. “Through not following her own caution to the other birds she has been cut in two,” said he, and uttered this verse:

1. “The greed-denouncing bird, to greed a prey,
The chariot wheels leave mangled on the way”. {1.430}

His lesson ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka by saying: “The warning nun was the bird Anusāsikā of those times, and I the king of the birds.”