Ja 117 Tittirajātaka
The Birth Story about the (Noisy) Partridge (1s)
In the present Kokālika blames the two chief disciples, and because of what he says, falls into hell. The Buddha tells a story of a monk who irritated another monk with his bickering and was killed on the spot with an axe.
The Bodhisatta = the teacher of a group (gaṇasatthā),
the Buddha’s disciples = the seer’s followers (isigaṇa),
Kokālika = the talkative ascetic (mukharatāpasa).
Present Source: Ja 481 Takkāriya,
Quoted at: Ja 117 Tittira, Ja 215 Kacchapa, Ja 272 Vyaggha, Ja 331 Kokālika.
Keywords: Slander, Talkativeness, Devas, Animals.
“Talking excessively, and much too strongly.”
During one rainy season the two chief disciples, desiring to leave the multitude and to dwell apart, took leave of the Teacher, and went into the kingdom where Kokālika was. They repaired to the residence of Kokālika, and said this to him, “Monk Kokālika, since for us it is delightful to dwell with you, and for you to dwell with us, we would abide here three months.” “How,” said the other, “will it be delightful for you to dwell with me?” They answered, “If you tell not a soul that the two chief disciples are dwelling here, we shall be happy, and that will be our delight in dwelling with you.” “And how is it delightful for me to dwell with you?” “We will teach the Dhamma to you for three months in your home, and we will discourse to you, and that will be your delight in dwelling with us.” “Dwell here, monks,” said he, “so long as you will,” and he allotted a pleasant residence to them. There they dwelt in the fruition of the Attainments, and no man knew of their dwelling in that place.
When they had thus past the rains they said to him, “Monk, now we have dwelt with you, and we will go to visit the Teacher,” and asked his leave to go. He agreed, and went with them on the rounds for alms in a village over against the place where they were. After their meal the elders departed from the village. Kokālika leaving them, turned back and said to the people, “Lay brethren, you are like brute animals. Here the two chief disciples have been dwelling for three months in the monastery opposite, and you knew nothing of it: now they are gone.” “Why did you not tell us, sir?” the people asked.
Then they took ghee and oil and medicines, raiment and clothes, and approached the elders, saluting them and saying: “Pardon us, sirs we knew not you were the chief disciples, we have learned it but today by the words of the venerable monk Kokālika. Pray have compassion on us, and receive these medicines and clothes.” Kokālika went after the elders with them, for he thought: “The elders are frugal, and content with little; they will not accept these things, and then they will be given to me.” But the elders, because the gift was offered at the instigation of a monk, neither accepted the things themselves nor had them given to Kokālika. The lay folk then said: “Sirs, if you will not accept these, come here once again to bless us.” The elders promised, and proceeded to the Teacher’s presence.
Now Kokālika was angry, because the elders neither accepted those things themselves, nor had them given to him. The elders, however, having remained a short while with the Teacher, each chose five hundred monks as their following, and with these thousand monks went on pilgrimage seeking alms, as far as Kokālika’s country. The lay folk came out to meet them, and led them to the same monastery, and showed them great honour day by day.
Great was the store given them of clothes and of medicines. Those monks who went out with the elders dividing the garments gave of them to all the monks which had come, but to Kokālika gave none, neither did the elders give him any. Getting no clothes Kokālika began to abuse and revile the elders, “Sāriputta and Moggallāna are full of wicked desire; they would not accept before what was offered them, but these things they do accept. There is no satisfying them, they have no regard for another.” But the elders, perceiving that the man was harbouring evil on their account, set out with their followers to depart; nor would they return, not though the people begged them to stay yet a few days longer.
Then a young monk said: “Where shall the elders stay, laymen? Your own particular elder does not wish them to stay here.” Then the people went to Kokālika, and said: “Sir, we are told you do not wish the elders to stay here. Go to! Either appease them and bring them back, or away with you and live elsewhere!” In fear of the people this man went and made his request to the elders. “Go back, monk,” answered the elders, “we will not return.” So he, being unable to prevail upon them, returned to the monastery. Then the lay brethren asked him whether the elders had returned. “I could not persuade them to return,” said he. “Why not, monk?” they asked. And then they began to think it must be no good monks would dwell there because the man lived wrong, and they must get rid of him. “Sir,” they said, “do not stay here; we have nothing here for you.”
Thus dishonoured by them, he took bowl and robe and went to Jetavana. After saluting the Teacher, he said: “Sir, Sāriputta and Moggallāna are full of wicked desire, they are in the power of wicked desires!” The Teacher replied, “Say not so, Kokālika; let your heart, Kokālika, have confidence in Sāriputta and Moggallāna; learn that they are good monks.” Kokālika said: “You believe in your two chief disciples, sir; I have seen it with my own eyes; they have wicked desires, they have secrets within them, they are wicked men.” So he said thrice (though the Teacher would have stayed him), then rose from his seat, and departed. Even as he went on his way there arose over all his body boils of the size of a mustard seed, which grew and grew to the size of a ripe seed of the wood apple tree, burst, and blood ran all over him. Groaning he fell by the gate of Jetavana, maddened with pain.
A great cry arose, and reached even to the Brahma Realm, “Kokālika has reviled the two chief disciples!” Then his spiritual teacher, the Brahma Tudu by name, learning the fact, came with the intent of appeasing the elders, and said while poised in the air, “Kokālika, a cruel thing this you have done; make your peace with the chief disciples.” “Who are you, brother?” the man asked. “Tudu Brahma, is my name,” said he. “Have you not been declared by the Fortunate One,” said the man, “one of those who return not? That word means that such come not back to this earth. You will become a Yakkha upon a dunghill!” Thus he upbraided the Mahābrahma. And as he could not persuade the man to do as he advised, he replied to him, “May you be tormented according to your own word.” Then he returned to his abode of bliss. And Kokālika after dying was born again in the Lotus Hell. That he had been born there the great and mighty Brahma told to the Tathāgata, and the Teacher told it to the monks.
In the Dhamma Hall the monks talked of the man’s wickedness, “Monks, they say Kokālika reviled Sāriputta and Moggallāna, and by the words of his own mouth came to the Lotus Hell.” The Teacher came in, and said he, “What speak you of, monks, as you sit here?” They told him.
Said the Teacher, “As now, monks, so likewise in former times, Kokālika’s tongue has worked his destruction.”
So saying, he told this story of the past.
In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born a brahmin in the north country. When he grew up, he received a complete education at Taxila, and, renouncing sensual desire, gave up the world to become an ascetic. He won the five Super Knowledges and eight Attainments, and all the recluses of the Himālayas to the number of five hundred assembled together and followed him as their master. Absorption was his as he dwelt amid his disciples in the Himālayas.
In those days there was an ascetic suffering from jaundice who was chopping wood with an axe. And a chattering monk came and sat by him, and directed his work, bidding him give here a chop and there a chop,
Now on an ant-hill nearby the hermitage there dwelt a partridge which early and late was always piping on the top of the ant-hill. Recognising the note of a partridge, a sportsman killed the bird and took it off with him. Missing the bird’s note, the Bodhisatta asked the ascetics why they did not hear their neighbour the partridge now. Then they told him what had happened, and he linked the two events together in this verse:
1. Accuggatātibalatā ativelaṁ pabhāsitā,
Vācā hanati dummedhaṁ, tittiraṁ vātivassitan-ti.
Talking excessively, and much too strongly, and for much too long, by words the unintelligent was killed, like the noisy partridge.
Having developed within himself the four Divine Abidings, the Bodhisatta thus became destined to rebirth in the Brahma Realm.
Said the Teacher, “Monks, as now, so likewise in former days Kokālika’s tongue has worked his destruction.” And at the close of this lesson he identified the Jātaka by saying: “Kokālika was the meddling ascetic of those days, my followers the band of ascetics, and I their master.”
last updated: August 2023