Ja 253 Maṇikaṇṭhajātaka I think this Jātaka is represented on the Stūpa of Bharhut. In pl. XLII. 1 we see a man sitting before a hut, apparently conversing with a great five-headed cobra. The story is also told in the Vinayapiṭaka, Suttavibhaṅga, vi. 1. 3.
The Story about (the Nāga King) Maṇikaṇṭha (3s)
In the present the monks go round importuning people to give them workers and goods for the huts they are building. The Buddha reproves them and tells a story of how even the Nāgas dislike being begged from, with the story of one ascetic who begged for his friend the Nāga’s jewel, only to be abandoned by him.
The Bodhisatta = the elder (brother) (jeṭṭha),
Ānanda = the younger (brother) (kaniṭṭha).
Present Source: Ja 253 Maṇikaṇṭha,
Quoted at: Ja 323 Brahmadatta, Ja 403 Aṭṭhisena,
Present Compare: Vin Sd 6 (3.145).
Keywords: Importunity, Begging, Devas.
“Rich food and drink.”
Some monks who lived in Āḷavī The introductory story occurs in the Vinaya, Suttavibhaṅga, Saṅghādisesa, vi. 1. The wrong was importunity. were begging Reading saṁyācikāya (as in Suttavibhaṅga). from all quarters the materials for houses which they were getting made for themselves. They were for ever asking, “Give us a man, give us somebody to do servant’s work,” and so forth. Everybody was annoyed at this begging and solicitation. So much annoyed were they, that at sight of these monks they were startled and scared away.
It happened that the venerable monk Mahākassapa entered Āḷavī, and traversed the place in quest of alms. The people, as soon as they saw the elder, ran away as before. Reading patipajjīsu. After mealtime, having returned from his rounds, he summoned the monks, and thus addressed them, “Once Āḷavī was a good place for alms; why is it so poor now?” They told him the reason.
Now the Fortunate One was at the time dwelling at the Aggāḷava shrine. The elder came to the Fortunate One, and told him all about it. The Teacher convened the monks touching this matter.
In the past, when Brahmadatta reigned in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as a rich brahmin’s son. When he was old enough to run about, his mother gave birth to another wise being. Both the brothers, when they grew up, were so deeply pained at their parents’ death, that they became ascetics, and dwelt in leaf-huts which they made at a bend of the Ganges river. The elder had his lodge by the upper Ganges, and the younger by the lower river.
One day, a Nāga king whose name was Maṇikaṇṭha [Jewel-throat] left his dwelling-place, and taking the shape of a man, walked along the river bank until he came to the younger brother’s hermitage. He greeted
It happened one day that he paid a visit to his brother. “Why, brother,” said he, “what makes you so thin? How did you lose your colour? Why are you so yellow, and why do your veins stand out like this upon your skin?” The other told him all about it.
“Come tell me,” said the first, “do you like him to come or not?”
“Well, what ornament does the Nāga king wear when he visits you?”
“A precious jewel!”
“Very well. When he comes again, before he has time to sit down, ask him to give you the jewel. Then he will depart without embracing you in his serpent folds. Next day stand at your door, and ask him for it there; and on the third ask him just as he emerges from the river. He will never visit you again.”
The younger promised so to do, and returned to his hut. On the morrow, when the serpent had come, as he stood there the ascetic cried, “Give me your beautiful jewel!” The serpent hurried away without sitting down. On the day following, the ascetic stolid at his door, and called out as the serpent came, “You would not give me your jewel yesterday! Now today you must!” And the serpent slipped off without entering the hut. On the third day, the man called out just as the serpent was emerging from the water, “This is the third day that I have asked you for it: come, give this jewel to me!” And the serpent, speaking from his place in the water, refused, in the words of these two verses:
1. “Rich food and drink in plenty I can have
By means of this fine jewel which you crave:
You ask too much; the gem I will not give;
Nor visit you again while I shall live.
2. Like lads who wait with tempered sword in hand,
You scare me as my jewel you demand,
You ask too much – the gem I will not give,
Nor ever visit you while I shall live!”
With these words, the king of the Nāgas plunged beneath the water, and went to his own place, never to return.
Then the ascetic, not seeing his beautiful Nāga king again, became thinner and thinner still; he grew more squalid, lost his colour worse than before, and grew more yellow, and the veins rose thicker on his skin!
The elder brother thought he would go and see how his brother was getting on. He paid him a visit, and found him yellower than he had been before.
“Why, how is this? Worse than ever!” said he.
His brother replied, “It is because I never see the lovely king of the Nāgas!”
“This ascetic,” said the elder, on hearing his answer, “cannot live without his Nāga king,” and he repeated the third verse:
3. “Importune not a man whose love you prize,
For begging makes you hateful in his eyes.
The brahmin begged the Nāga’s gem so sore
He disappeared and never came back more.”
Then he counselled his brother not to grieve, and with this consolation, left him and returned to his own hermitage. And after that
The Teacher added, “Thus, monks, even in the world of Nāgas, where are the seven precious stones in plenty, begging is disliked by the Nāgas: how much more by men!” And, after teaching them this lesson, he identified the Jātaka, “At that time, Ānanda was the younger brother, but the elder was I myself.”
last updated: November 2021