Ja 272 Vyagghajātaka
The Story about the Tiger (3s)

Alternative Title: Byagghajātaka (Cst)

In the present Kokālika wants to bring the two chief disciples to his home town, but they refuse to go. The Buddha tells a story of a Tree Devatā who drove away a tiger and a lion because of the carnage they brought into the forest. But once gone, men entered and cut down all the trees for cultivation.

The Bodhisatta = the wise Devatā (Paṇḍitadevatā),
Moggallāna = the tiger (vyaggha),
Sāriputta = the lion (sīha),
Kokālika = the foolish Devatā (apaṇḍitā Devatā).

Present Source: Ja 481 Takkāriya,
Quoted at: Ja 117 Tittira, Ja 215 Kacchapa, Ja 272 Vyaggha, Ja 331 Kokālika.

Keywords: Greed, Devas, Animals.

“What time the nearness.” {2.356} This story the Teacher told while living at Jetavana, about Kokālika. Kokālika was a follower of Devadatta. The circumstances of this story will be given in the Thirteenth Book, and the Takkāriyajātaka [Ja 481].

During one rainy season the two chief disciples, desiring to leave the multitude and to dwell apart, took leave of the Teacher, and went into the kingdom where Kokālika was. They repaired to the residence of Kokālika, and said this to him, “Monk Kokālika, since for us it is delightful to dwell with you, and for you to dwell with us, we would abide here three months.” “How,” said the other, “will it be delightful for you to dwell with me?” They answered, “If you tell not a soul that the two chief disciples are dwelling here, we shall be happy, and that will be our delight in dwelling with you.” “And how is it delightful for me to dwell with you?” “We will teach the Dhamma to you for three months in your home, and we will discourse to you, and that will be your delight in dwelling with us.” “Dwell here, monks,” said he, “so long as you will,” and he allotted a pleasant residence to them. There they dwelt in the fruition of the Attainments, and no man knew of their dwelling in that place.

When they had thus past the rains they said to him, “Monk, now we have dwelt with you, and we will go to visit the Teacher,” and asked his leave to go. He agreed, and went with them on the rounds for alms in a village over against the place where they were. After their meal the elders departed from the village. Kokālika leaving them, turned back and said to the people, “Lay brethren, you are like brute animals. Here the two chief disciples have been dwelling for three months in the monastery opposite, and you knew nothing of it: now they are gone.” “Why did you not tell us, sir?” the people asked.

Then they took ghee and oil and medicines, raiment and clothes, and approached the elders, saluting them and saying: “Pardon us, sirs we knew not you were the chief disciples, we have learned it but today by the words of the venerable monk Kokālika. Pray have compassion on us, and receive these medicines and clothes.” Kokālika went after the elders with them, for he thought: “The elders are frugal, and content with little; they will not accept these things, and then they will be given to me.” But the elders, because the gift was offered at the instigation of a monk, neither accepted the things themselves nor had them given to Kokālika. The lay folk then said: “Sirs, if you will not accept these, come here once again to bless us.” The elders promised, and proceeded to the Teacher’s presence.

Now Kokālika was angry, because the elders neither accepted those things themselves, nor had them given to him. The elders, however, having remained a short while with the Teacher, each chose five hundred monks as their following, and with these thousand monks went on pilgrimage seeking alms, as far as Kokālika’s country. The lay folk came out to meet them, and led them to the same monastery, and showed them great honour day by day.

Great was the store given them of clothes and of medicines. Those monks who went out with the elders dividing the garments gave of them to all the monks which had come, but to Kokālika gave none, neither did the elders give him any. Getting no clothes Kokālika began to abuse and revile the elders, “Sāriputta and Moggallāna are full of wicked desire; they would not accept before what was offered them, but these things they do accept. There is no satisfying them, they have no regard for another.” But the elders, perceiving that the man was harbouring evil on their account, set out with their followers to depart; nor would they return, not though the people begged them to stay yet a few days longer.

Then a young monk said: “Where shall the elders stay, laymen? Your own particular elder does not wish them to stay here.” Then the people went to Kokālika, and said: “Sir, we are told you do not wish the elders to stay here. Go to! Either appease them and bring them back, or away with you and live elsewhere!”

Here again Kokālika said: “I will bring Sāriputta and Moggallāna back with me.” So having left Kokālika’s country, he travelled to Jetavana, greeted the Teacher, and went on to the [2.245] elders. He said: “Friends, the citizens of Kokālika’s country summon you. Let us go there!” “Go yourself, friend, we won’t,” was the answer. After this refusal he went away by himself.

The monks got talking about this in the Dhamma Hall. “Friend! Kokālika can’t live either with Sāriputta and Moggallāna, or without them! He can’t put up with their room or their company!” The Teacher came in, and enquired what they were all talking about together. They told him. He said: “In olden days, just as now, Kokālika couldn’t live with Sāriputta and Moggallāna, or without them.” And he told a story.

In the past, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was a Tree Devatā living in a wood. Not far from his abode lived another Tree Devatā, in a great monarch of the forest. In the same forest dwelt a lion and a tiger. For fear of them no one did till the earth, or cut down a tree, no one could even pause to look at it, and the lion and tiger used to kill and eat all manner of creatures; and what remained after eating, they left on the spot and departed, so that the forest was full of foul decaying stench.

The other spirit, being foolish and knowing neither reason nor unreason, one day bespoke thus the Bodhisatta, “Good friend, the forest is full of foul stench all because of this lion and this tiger. I will drive then away.”

Said he, “Good friend, it is just these two creatures {2.357} that protect our homes. Once they are driven off, our homes will be made desolate. If men see not the lion and the tiger tracks, they will cut all the forest down, make it all one open space, and till the land. Please do not do this thing!” and then he uttered the first two verses:

1. “What time the nearness of a bosom friend
Threatens your peace to end,
If you are wise, guard your supremacy
Like the apple of your eye.

2. But when your bosom friend does more increase
The measure of your peace,
Let your friend’s life in everything right through
Be dear as yours to you.”

When the Bodhisatta had thus explained the matter, the foolish Devatā notwithstanding did not lay it to heart, but one day assumed an awful shape, and drove away the lion and tiger. The people, no longer seeing their footmarks, divined that the lion and tiger must have gone to another wood, and cut down one side of this wood.

Then the Devatā came up to the Bodhisatta {2.358} and said to him, “Ah, friend, I did not do as you said, but drove the creatures away; and now men have found out that they are gone, and they are cutting down the wood! What is to be done?” The reply was, that they were [2.246] gone to live in such and such a wood; the Devatā must go and fetch them back. This the Devatā did; and, standing in front of them, repeated the third verse, with a respectful salute:

3. “Come back, O tigers! To the wood again,
And let it not be levelled with the plain;
For, without you, the axe will lay it low;
You, without it, for ever homeless go.”

This request they refused, saying: “Go away! We will not come.” The Devatā returned to the forest alone. And the men after a very few days cut down all the wood, made fields, and brought them under cultivation.

When the Teacher had ended this discourse, he declared the Truths and identified the Jātaka, “Kokālika was then the foolish Devatā, Sāriputta the lion, Moggallāna the tiger, and the wise Devatā was I myself.”