Ja 129 Aggikajātaka
The Birth Story about (the Brahmin) Aggika (1s)

Alternative Title: Aggikabhāradvājajātaka (Cst)

In the present one monk shows himself a deceitful person. The Buddha tells the story of a jackal who tricked the rat population and ate them up one by one till he was discovered.

The Bodhisatta = the king of the rats (mūsikarājā),
the deceitful monk = the jackal (sigāla).

Keywords: Deceit, Greed, Animals.

“That topknot is not caused by merit.” [1.283] This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana, about another deceitful person.

In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was king of the rats and dwelt in the forest. Now a fire broke out in the forest, and a jackal who could not run away put his head against a tree {1.462} and let the flames sweep by him. The fire singed the hair off his body everywhere, and left him perfectly bald, except for a tuft like a scalp-knot [The scalp-knot was a sign of a brahmin.] where the crown of his head was pressed against the tree. Drinking one day in a rocky pool, he caught sight of this top-knot reflected in the water. “At last I’ve got wherewithal to go to market,” thought he. Coming in the course of his wanderings in the forest to the rats’ cave, he said to himself, “I’ll hoodwink those rats and devour them,” and with this intent he took up his stand nearby, just as in the foregoing story.

On his way out in quest of food, the Bodhisatta observed the jackal and, crediting the beast with virtue and goodness, came to him and asked what his name was.

“Bhāradvāja, Votary of the Fire-God.” “Why have you come here?” “In order to guard you and yours.” “What will you do to guard us?” “I know how to count on my fingers, and will count your numbers both morning and evening, so as to be sure that as many came home at night, as went out in the morning. That’s how I’ll guard you.” “Then stay, uncle, and watch over us.”

And accordingly, as the rats were starting in the morning he set about counting them, “One, two, three,” and so again when they came back at night. And every time he counted them, he seized and ate the hindmost. Everything came to pass as in the foregoing story, except that here the king of the rats turned and said to the jackal, “It is not sanctity, [1.284] Bhāradvāja, Votary of the Fire-God, but gluttony that has decked your crown with that top-knot.” So saying, he uttered this verse:

1. Nāyaṁ sikhā puññahetu, ghāsahetu ayaṁ sikhā,
Nāṅguṭṭhagaṇanaṁ yāti, alaṁ te hotu aggikā ti!

That topknot is not caused by merit, that topknot was caused by food, the finger-count does not proceed well, enough of you, Aggika!

His lesson ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka by saying: “This monk was the jackal of those days, and I the king of the rats.”