Ja 142 Sigālajātaka
The Birth Story about the (King of the) Jackals (1s)
Alternative Title: Siṅgālajātaka (Cst)
In the present Devadatta goes round trying to kill the Buddha, who tells a story of the past in which a hunter had tried to fool a jackal into thinking he was dead so he could catch him, but had failed therein, and was destined for hell.
The Bodhisatta = the king of the jackals (sigālarājā),
Devadatta = the scoundrel (dhutta).
Keyword: Deceit, Treachery, Animals.
“This is difficult to understand.”
In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born a jackal, and dwelt in a charnel-grove with a great following of jackals of whom he was king. And at that time there was a festival held at Rājagaha, and a very wet festival it was, with everybody drinking hard. Now a parcel of rogues got hold of victual and drink in abundance, and putting on their best clothes sang and made merry over their fare. By midnight the meat was all gone, though the liquor still held out. Then on one asking for more meat and being told there was none left, said the fellow, “Victuals never lack while I am about. I’ll off to the charnel-grove, kill a jackal prowling about to eat the corpses, and bring back some meat.” So saying he snatched up a club and made his way out of the city by the sewer to the place, where he lay down, club in hand, feigning to be dead. Just then, followed by the other jackals, the Bodhisatta came up and marked the pretended corpse. Suspecting the fraud, he determined to sift the matter. So he went round to the lee side and knew by the scent that the man was not really dead. Resolving to make the man look foolish before leaving him, the Bodhisatta stole near and took hold of the club with his teeth and tugged at it. The rascal did not leave go, not perceiving the Bodhisatta’s approach, he
1. Etañ-hi te durājānaṁ, yaṁ sesi matasāyikaṁ,
Yassa te kaḍḍhamānassa, hatthā daṇḍo na muccatī ti.
This is difficult to understand, you lie, lying as though dead, however, when tugging at you, your hands do not release the club.
Finding that he was discovered, the rogue sprang to his feet and flung his club at the Bodhisatta, but missed his aim, “Be off, you brute,” said
Empty-handed, the rogue left the cemetery and, after bathing in a ditch, went back into the city by the way he had come.
His lesson ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka by saying: “Devadatta was the rogue of those times, and I the king of the jackals.”
last updated: August 2023