Ja 183 Vālodakajātaka The introductory story is varied in Dhp-a VI.8.
The Story about (the Sorry) Drink (2s)
In the present many householders who attained the paths and fruits live with the Buddha, and attend his meals. These behave properly, but their attendants are loud and rude. The Buddha tells a story of 500 thoroughbreds who were given strong drink but maintained their dignity, and 500 donkeys who, being given the leftovers of that drink, became unruly.
The Bodhisatta = the wise minister (paṇḍitāmacca),
Ānanda = the king (of Benares) (rājā),
the laymen = the 500 Sindh horses (pañcasatā sindhavā),
the poor boys = the 500 donkeys (pañcasatā gadrabhā).
Past Compare: Vin Pār (3.1), Dhp-a VI.8 Pañcasatabhikkhu.
Keywords: Nobility, Sobreity, Animals.
“This sorry draught.” This story the Teacher told while at Jetavana, about five hundred persons who ate leftovers.
At Sāvatthi, we learn, were five hundred persons who had left the stumbling-block of a worldly life to their sons and daughters,
The Teacher happened to hear the attendants shouting. “What is that noise, Ānanda?” he asked. “The attendants, who eat the leftovers,” was the reply. The Teacher said: “Ānanda, this is not the only time these attendants have fed on leftovers, and made a great noise after it; they used to do the same in the olden days; and then too these lay brethren were just as quiet as they are now.” So saying, at his request, the Teacher told a story of the past.
In the past, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as the son of one of his courtiers, and became the king’s adviser in all things both temporal and spiritual. Word came to the king of a revolt on the frontier. He ordered five hundred chargers to be got ready, and an army complete in its four parts. Elephants, horse, chariots, infantry. With this he set out, and quelled the rising, after which he returned to Benares.
When he came home, he gave order, “As the horses are tired, let them have some juicy food, some grape juice to drink.” The steeds took this delicious drink, then retired to their stables and stood quietly each in his stall.
But there was a mass of leavings, with nearly all the goodness squeezed out of it. The keepers asked the king what to do with that. “Knead it up with water,” was his command, “strain through a towel, and give it to the donkeys who carry the horses’ provender.” This wretched stuff the donkeys drank up. It maddened them, and they galloped about the palace yard braying loudly.
From an open window the king saw the Bodhisatta, and called out to him.
1. “This sorry draught, the goodness all strained out, Dhp-a VI.8.
Drives all these asses in a drunken rout:
The thoroughbreds, that drank the potent juice,
Stand silent, nor do they caper about.”
And the Bodhisatta explained the matter in the second verse:
2. “The low-born churl, though he but taste and try,
Is frolicsome and drunken by and by:
He that is gentle keeps a steady brain
Even if he drain most potent liquor dry.”
When the king had listened to the Bodhisatta’s answer, he had the donkeys driven out of his courtyard. Then, abiding by the Bodhisatta’s
When this discourse was ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka as follows, “At that time these attendants were the five hundred asses, these lay brethren were the five hundred thoroughbreds, Ānanda was the king, and the wise courtier was I myself.”
last updated: November 2021