Ja 188 Sīhakoṭṭhukajātaka
The Story about the Lion and the Jackal (2s)
Alternative Title: Sīhakotthujātaka (Cst)
In the present Kokālika wanted to be one of those who recited the scriptures, and was invited to do so, but when he appeared in front of the Saṅgha he could not remember one verse. The Buddha tells a story of a crossbreed, who looked like a lion, but sounded like his mother, a jackal. When he tried to roar all the other lions were embarrassed by his sound.
The Bodhisatta = the king of the animals (migarājā),
Rāhula = the (king’s) son (sajātiputta),
Kokālika = the jackal (sigāla).
Present Source: Ja 172 Daddara,
Quoted at: Ja 188 Sīhakoṭṭhuka, Ja 189 Sīhacamma.
Keywords: Imitation, Vanity, Animals.
“Lion’s claws and lion’s paws.”
At this time we hear that there were a number of very learned monks in the district of Manosilā, who spoke out like young lions, loud enough to bring down the heavenly Ganges, while reciting passages of scripture before the Saṅgha. As they recited their texts, Kokālika (not knowing what an empty fool he showed himself) thought he would like to do the same. So he went about among the monks saying: “They don’t ask me to recite a piece of scripture. If they were to ask me, I would do it.” All the Saṅgha got to know of it and they thought they would try him. “Friend Kokālika,” they said, “give the Saṅgha a recital of some scriptures today.” To this he agreed, not knowing his folly; that day he would recite before the Saṅgha.
He first partook of gruel made to his liking, ate some food, and had some of his favourite soup. At sundown the gong sounded for sermon time; all the Saṅgha gathered together. The ‘yellow robe’ which he put on was blue as a bluebell; his outer robe was pure white. Thus clad, he entered the meeting, greeted the elders, stepped up to a Dhamma Seat under a grand jewelled pavilion, holding an elegantly carved fan, and sat down, ready to begin his recitation. But just at that moment beads of sweat began to start out all over him, and he felt ashamed. The first verse of the first verse he repeated; but what came next he could not think. So rising from the seat in confusion, he passed out through the meeting, and sought his own cell. Someone else, a real scholar, recited the scripture. After that all the monks knew how empty he was.
One day the monks fell a talking of it in the Dhamma Hall, “Friend, it was not easy to see formerly how empty Kokālika is; but now he has given tongue of his own accord, and shown it.” The Teacher entered, and asked what they were discussing together. They told him.
This time again the Teacher on hearing of it said: “Not this once only has Kokālika been shown up for what he was worth by means of his own voice; the very same thing happened before.” And he told a story.
In the past, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was a lion in the Himālayas mountains, and he had a cub by a female jackal who mated with him. The cub was just like his father in toes, claws, mane, colour, figure – all these; but in voice he was like his mother.
One day, after a shower of rain, all the lions were gambolling together and roaring; the cub thought he would like to roar too, and yelped like a jackal. On hearing which all the lions fell silent at once! Another cub of the same sire, own brother of this one, heard the sound, and said: “Father, that lion is like us in colour and everything except in voice. Who’s he?” in asking which question he repeated the first verse:
1. “Lion’s claws and lion’s paws,
Lion’s feet to stand upon;
But the bellow of this fellow
Sounds not like a lion’s son!”
In answer the Bodhisatta said: “It’s your brother, the jackal’s cub; like me in form, but in voice like his mother.” Then he gave a word of advice to the other cub, “My dear son, as long as you live here keep a quiet tongue in your head. If you give tongue again, they’ll all find out that you are a jackal.” To drive the advice home he repeated the second verse:
2. “All will see what kind you be
If you yelp as once before;
So don’t try it, but keep quiet:
Yours is not a lion’s roar.”
After this advice the creature never again so much as tried to roar.
When the Teacher had finished this discourse, he identified the Jātaka, “In those days Kokālika was the jackal, Rāhula was the brother cub, and the king of beasts was I myself.”
last updated: November 2021