Ja 161 Indasamānagottajātaka
The Story about (the Seer) Indasamānagotta (2s)
In the present one newly ordained monk doesn’t like to carry out his duties and wants to go his own way. The Buddha tells a story of an obstinate ascetic who kept a pet elephant, against the advice of his teacher, and was duly killed by it.
The Bodhisatta = the teacher of a group (gaṇasatthā),
the monk who could not be taught = (the unteachable) Indasamānagotta.
Present Source: Ja 427 Gijjha,
Quoted at: Ja 116 Dubbaca, Ja 161 Indasamānagotta, Ja 369 Mittavinda, Ja 439 Catudvāra.
Keywords: Obstinacy, Disobedience, Animals.
“Friendship with evil.”
This story the Teacher told at Jetavana concerning a disobedient monk. He was, they say, of gentle birth, and though ordained in the dispensation that leads to safety, was admonished by his well-wishers, masters, teachers, and fellow-students to this effect, “Thus must you advance and thus retreat; thus look at or away from objects; thus must the arm be stretched out or drawn back; thus are the inner and outer garment to be worn; thus is the bowl to be held, and when you have received sufficient food to sustain life, after self-examination, thus are you to partake of it, keeping guard over the door of the senses; in eating you are to be moderate and exercise watchfulness; you are to recognize such and such duties towards monks who come to or go from the monastery; these are the fourteen sets of monastic duties, and the eighty great duties to be duly performed; these are the thirteen ascetic practices; all these are to be scrupulously performed.” Yet was he disobedient and impatient, and did not receive instruction respectfully, but refused to listen to them, saying: “I do not find fault with you. Why do you speak thus to me? I shall know what is for my good, and what is not.”
Then the monks, hearing of his disobedience, sat in the Dhamma Hall, telling of his faults. The Teacher came and asked them what it was they were discussing, and sent for the monk and said: “Is it true, monk, that you are disobedient?” And he confessed that it was so.
The Teacher said to this monk, “In olden days, as now, you were wilful and careless of wise men’s advice, and you were trampled to death by a mad elephant because of it.” And he told a story of the past.
In the past, while Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was born of a brahmin family. On growing up he left his worldly home and took to the ascetic life, and in time became the leader of a company of five hundred ascetics, who all lived together in the region of the Himālayas.
Amongst these ascetics was a wilful and unteachable person named Indasamānagotta. He had a pet elephant. The Bodhisatta sent for him when he found this out, and asked if he really did keep a young elephant? Yes, the man said, he had an elephant which had lost its dam. “Well,” the Bodhisatta said, “when elephants grow up they kill even those who foster them; so you had better not keep it any longer.” “But I can’t live without him, my teacher!” was the reply. “Oh, well,” said the Bodhisatta, “you’ll live to repent it.” Howbeit he still reared the creature, and by and by it grew to an immense size.
It happened once that the ascetics had all gone far afield to gather roots and fruits in the forest, and they were absent for several days. At the first breath of the south wind this elephant fell in a frenzy.
“Destruction to this hut!” he thought: “I’ll smash the water-jar! I’ll overturn the stone bench! I’ll tear up the pallet! I’ll kill the ascetic, and then off I’ll go!” So he sped into the jungle, and waited watching for their return.
The master came first,
The other ascetics brought this news to the Bodhisatta. Said he, “We should have no dealings with the bad,” and then he repeated these two verses:
1. “Friendship with evil let the good eschew,
The good, who know what duty bids them do:
They will work mischief, be it soon or late,
Even as the elephant his master slew.
2. But if a kindred spirit you shall see,
In virtue, wisdom, learning like to you,
Choose such a one to be your own true friend;
Good friends and blessing go in company.”
In this way the Bodhisatta showed his band of ascetics that it is well to be docile and not obstinate. Then he performed Indasamānagotta’s obsequies, and cultivating the Divine Abidings, came at last into Brahmā’s Realm.
After concluding this discourse, the Teacher identified the Jātaka, “This unruly fellow was then Indasamānagotta, and I was myself the teacher of the ascetic band.”
last updated: November 2021