Ja 133 Ghatāsanajātaka
The Birth Story about the Fire (1s)
In the present one monk goes for meditation, but when his hut burns down he is unable to make progress. He stays on in the village anyway. When he comes to the Buddha after the Rains Retreat, the latter tells him a story of how in a past life he had acted quickly to save his subjects when a Nāga had attacked them with fire.
The Bodhisatta = the king of the birds (sakuṇarājā),
the Buddha’s disciples = the obedient birds (vacanakarā sakuṇā).
Keywords: Promptitude, Discernment, Devas, Animals, Birds.
“Where there is safety.”
In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born a bird. When he came to years of discretion, good fortune attended him and he became king of the birds, taking up his abode with his subjects in a giant tree which stretched its leafy branches over the waters of a lake. And all these birds,
Seeing the flames shooting up from the water, the Bodhisatta cried to the birds, “Water is used to quench fire; but here is the water itself on fire. This is no place for us; let us seek a home elsewhere.” So saying, he uttered this verse:
1. Khemaṁ yahiṁ tattha arī udīrito,
Dakassa majjhe jalate ghatāsano,
Na ajja vāso mahiyā mahīruhe,
Disā bhajavho saraṇājja no bhayan-ti.
Where there is safety there are foes, is said, fire burns in the middle of the water. Not living today in this tree on earth, go away, there is danger from our refuge today.
And hereupon the Bodhisatta flew off with such of the birds as followed his advice; but the disobedient birds, who stopped behind, all perished.
His lesson ended, the Teacher preached the Four Truths, at the close whereof that monk became an Arahat, and identified the Jātaka by saying: “The loyal and obedient birds of those days are now become my disciples, and I myself was then the king of the birds.”
last updated: August 2023