Ja 236 Bakajātaka
The Story about the (Deceitful) Heron (2s)

In the present one deceitful monk is brought to the Buddha, who tells a story of how a heron had stood in the water trying to fool the fish into believing he was no threat to them, only to be discovered by the king of the fish.

The Bodhisatta = the king of the fish (maccharājā),
the monk = the deceitful heron (baka).

Keywords: Deceit, Treachery, Animals, Birds.

“See that twice-born bird.” This story the Teacher told while staying in Jetavana, about a deceitful person. When he was brought before the Teacher, the Teacher said: “Monks, he was a deceitful person of old just as he is now,” and told the following story. [2.162] {2.234}

In the past, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta became a fish in a certain pond in the Himālayas region, and a great shoal went with him. Now a crane desired to eat the fish. So in a place near the pond he drooped his head, and spread out his wings, and looked vacantly, vacantly at the fish, waiting till they were off their guard. “A crane’s sleep” is an Indian proverb for trickery. At the same moment the Bodhisatta with his shoal came to that place in search of food. And the shoal of fish on seeing the crane uttered the first verse:

1. “See that twice-born dijo is used of a bird as born in the egg and from the egg. It is also applied to brahmins, and so conveys an additional notion of piety. bird, how white
Like a water-lily seeming;
Wings outspread to left and right
Oh, how pious! Dreaming, dreaming!”

Then the Bodhisatta looked, and uttered the second verse:

2. “What he is you do not know,
Or you would not sing his praises.
He is our most treacherous foe;
That is why no wing he raises.”

Thereupon the fish splashed in the water and drove the crane away.

When this discourse was ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka, “This deceitful person was the crane, and I was the chief of the shoal of fish.”