Ja 197 Mittāmittajātaka
The Story about Friends and Foes (2s)

In the present one monk places his trust in his teacher, only to be violently rebuffed by him. When the Buddha hears of it he tells a story of an ascetic who kept a wild elephant, and how it killed him, leading the Bodhisatta to show how to distinguish friend from foe.

The Bodhisatta = the teacher of a group (gaṇasatthā),
the Buddha’s disciples = the seer’s group (isigaṇa),
the preceptor = the elephant (hatthī),
the co-resident monk = the ascetic who kept an elephant (hatthiposakatāpasa).

Keywords: Confidence, Wisdom, Animals.

“He smiles not.” This story the Teacher told while dwelling at Sāvatthi, about a certain monk.

This monk took a piece of cloth, that had been given to his teacher, feeling confident that if he took it his teacher would not be angry. Then he made a shoe-bag of it, and took his leave. When this teacher asked why he took it, he replied he had felt confident, if he did, that his teacher would not be angry. The teacher flew into a passion, {2.131} got up and struck him a blow. “What confidence is there between you and me?” he asked.

This fact became known among the Saṅgha. One day the monks were all together talking about it in the Dhamma Hall. “Friend, young monk [2.92] So-and-so felt so confident of his teacher’s friendship, that he took a piece of cloth, and made it into a shoe-bag. Then the teacher asked him what confidence there was between them, flew into a passion, jumped up, and gave him a blow.” The Teacher came in, and asked them what they were talking of as they sat there together. They told him. Then he said: “This is not the first time, monks, that this man has disappointed the confidence of his fellow. He did the same before.” And then he told a story of the past.

In the past, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as a brahmin’s son in the realm of Kāsi. When he came of age, he renounced the world; he caused to grow in him the Super Knowledges and Attainments, and took up his abode in the region of the Himālayas with a band of disciples. One of this band of ascetics disobeyed the voice of the Bodhisatta, and kept a young elephant which had lost its mate. This creature by and by grew big, then killed its master and made off into the forest. The ascetics did his obsequies; and then, coming about the Bodhisatta, they put this question to him.

“Sir, how may we know whether one is a friend or an enemy?”

This the Bodhisatta declared to them in the following verses:

1. “He smiles not when he sees him, no welcome will he show,
He will not turn his eyes that way, and answers him with ‘No’.

2. These are the marks and tokens by which your foe you see:
These if a wise man sees and hears he knows his enemy.” {2.132}

In these words the Bodhisatta declared the marks of friend and foe. Thereafter he cultivated the Divine Abidings, and entered the Brahmā Realm.

When the Teacher had ended this discourse, he identified the Jātaka, “The monk in question was he who kept the pet elephant, his teacher was the elephant, the Buddha’s followers were then the band of ascetics, and I myself was their chief.”