Ja 249 Sālakajātaka
The Story about the Brother-in-Law (2s)

In the present one elderly monk ordains a novice, but is unkind to him, and the novice disrobes. Having enticed him back into robes, he is again unkind. The Buddha tells a story of a monkey who was beaten on return to his owner, and how he ran off into the forest to escape being beaten again.

The Bodhisatta = the grain merchant (dhaññavāṇija),
the great elder = the snake catcher (ahituṇḍika),
the novice = the monkey (makkaṭa).

Keywords: Bad treatment, Promises.

“Like my own son.” [2.186] This story the Teacher told while living in Jetavana, about a distinguished elder.

It is said that he had ordained a youth, whom he treated unkindly. The novice at last could stand it no longer, and returned to the world. Then the elder tried to coax him. {2.267} “Look here, lad,” said he, “your robe shall be your own, and your bowl too; I have another bowl and robe which I’ll give you. Join us again!” At first he refused, but at last after much asking he did so. From the day he joined the Saṅgha the elder maltreated him as before. Again the lad found it too much, and left the order. As the elder begged him again several times to join, the lad replied, “You can neither do with me nor without me; let me alone – I will not join!”

The monks got talking about this in the Dhamma Hall. “Friend,” they said, “a sensitive lad that! He knew the elder too well to join us.” The Teacher came in and asked what they were talking about. They told him. He rejoined, “Not only is the lad sensitive now, monks, but he was just the same of old; when once he saw the faults of that man, he would not accept him again.” And he told a story of the past.

In the past, in the reign of Brahmadatta king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was born into a landowner’s family, and gained a living by selling corn. Another man, a snake-charmer, had trained a monkey, made him swallow an antidote, and making a snake play with the monkey he gained his livelihood in this way.

A merrymaking had been proclaimed; this man wished to make merry at the feast, and he entrusted the monkey to this merchant, bidding him not neglect it. Seven days after he came to the merchant, and asked for his monkey. The monkey heard his master’s voice, and came out quickly from the grain shop. At once the man beat him over the back with a piece of bamboo; then he took him off to the woods, tied him up and fell asleep. So soon as the monkey saw that he was asleep, he loosed his bonds, scampered off and climbed a mango tree. He ate a mango, and dropped the stone upon the snake-charmer’s head. The man awoke, and looked up: there was the monkey. “I’ll wheedle him!” he thought, “and when he comes down from the tree, I’ll catch him!” So to wheedle him, he repeated the first verse:

1. “Like my own son you shall be,
Teacher in our family: {2.268}
Come down, Nuncle sālaka, lit. ‘brother-in-law,’ often used as a term of abuse. from the tree –
Come and hurry home with me.” [2.187]

The monkey listened, and repeated the second verse:

2. “You are laughing in your sleeve!
Have you quite forgot that beating?
Here I am content to live
(So good-bye) ripe mangoes eating.”

Up he arose, and was soon lost in the wood; while the snake-charmer returned to his house grieving.

When this discourse was ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka, “Our novice was the monkey. The elder was the snake-charmer, and I myself was the corn merchant.”