Ja 165 Nakulajātaka
The Story about the Mongoose (2s)

In the present two persons of high rank are always arguing with each other, and not even the king can prevent them. The Buddha teaches them loving-kindness and they are reconciled. He then tells a story of how he stopped the fighting of a snake and a mongoose in a past life.

The Bodhisatta = the ascetic (tāpasa),
the two ministers = the snake and the mongoose (sappo ca nakulo ca).

Present Source: Ja 154 Uraga,
Quoted at: Ja 165 Nakula, Ja 273 Kacchapa.

Keywords: Reconciliation, Loving-kindness, Animals.

“Creature, your egg-born enemy.” This story the Teacher told during a sojourn at Jetavana, about two officers who had a quarrel. The circumstances have been given above in the Uragajātaka [Ja 154].

Tradition tells how two soldiers, in the service of the king of Kosala, of high rank, and great persons at court, no sooner caught sight of one another than they used to exchange ill words. Neither king, nor friends, nor kinsfolk could make them agree.

It happened one day that early in the morning the Teacher, looking around to see which of his friends were ripe for release, perceived that these two were ready to enter upon the First Path. Next day he went all alone seeking alms in Sāvatthi, and stopped before the door of one of them, who came out and took the Teacher’s bowl; then led him within, and offered him a seat. The Teacher sat, and then enlarged on the profit of cultivating loving-kindness. When he saw the man’s mind was ready, he declared the Truths. This done, the other was established in the Fruit of the First Path. Seeing this, the Teacher persuaded him to take the bowl; then rising he proceeded to the house of the other. Out came the other, and after salutation given, begged the Teacher to enter, and gave him a seat. He also took the Teacher’s bowl, and entered along with him. To him the Teacher lauded the Eleven Blessings of Loving-kindness; and perceiving that his heart was ready, declared the Truths. And this done, he too became established in the Fruit of the First Path.

Thus they were both converted; they confessed their faults one to the other, and asked forgiveness; peaceful and harmonious, they were at one together. That very same day they ate together in the presence of the Fortunate One.

His meal over, the Teacher returned to the monastery. They both returned with him, bearing a rich present of flowers, scents and perfumes, of ghee, honey, and sugar. The Teacher, having preached of duty before the Saṅgha, and uttered a Sugata’s discourse, retired to his scented chamber.

Next morning, the monks talked the matter over in the Dhamma Hall. “Friend,” one would say to another, “our Teacher subdues the unsubdued. Why, here are these two grand persons, who have been quarrelling all this time, and could not be reconciled by the king himself, or friends and kinsfolk: and the Tathāgata has humbled them in a single day!” The Teacher came in, “What are you talking about,” asked he, “as you sit here together?”

Here, as before, the Teacher said: “This is not the first time, monks, these two nobles have been reconciled by me; in former times I reconciled them too.” Then he told a story of the past.

In the past, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was born in a certain village as one of a brahmin family. When he came of age, {2.53} he was educated at Taxila; then, renouncing the world he became a recluse, cultivated the Super Knowledges and Attainments, and dwelt in the region of the Himālayas, living upon wild roots and fruits which he picked up in his goings to and fro.

At the end of his cloistered walk lived a mongoose in an ant-heap; and not far off, a snake lived in a hollow tree. These two, snake and mongoose, were perpetually quarrelling. The Bodhisatta preached to them the misery of quarrels and the blessing of peace, and reconciled the two together, saying: “You ought to cease your quarrelling and live together at one.”

When the serpent was abroad, the mongoose at the end of the walk lay with his head out of the hole in his ant-hill, and his mouth open, and [2.37] thus fell asleep, heavily drawing his breath in and out. The Bodhisatta saw him sleeping there, and asking him, “Why, what are you afraid of?” repeated the first verse:

1. “Creature, Lit. ‘O viviparous one.’ your egg-born enemy a faithful friend is made:
Why sleep you there with teeth all bare? Of what are you afraid?”

“Father,” said the mongoose, “never despise a former enemy, but always suspect him,” and he repeated the second verse:

2. “Never despise an enemy nor ever trust a friend:
A fear that springs from unfeared things uproots and makes an end.” {2.54}

“Fear not,” replied the Bodhisatta. “I have persuaded the snake to do you no harm; distrust him no more.” With this advice, he proceeded to cultivate the four Divine Abidings, and set his face toward Brahmā’s Realm. And the others too passed away to fare hereafter according to their deeds.

Then this lesson ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka, “The two noblemen were at that time snake and mongoose, and I was myself the ascetic.”