Ja 275 Rucirajātaka [Rucirajātaka had no title in the print edition. This title is taken from the text.]
The Story about the Pretty (Crane) (3s)
In the present one monk is very greedy. The Buddha tells how this monk was also greedy in a previous life when, as a crow, he deceived his friend the pigeon in order to get access to a kitchen, which he stole from. But there the cook caught and plucked him and left him to die.
The Bodhisatta = the pigeon (pārāvata),
the greedy monk = the greedy crow (lola).
Past Compare: Ja 42 Kapota, Ja 274 Lola, Ja 275 Rucira, Ja 375 Kapota.
Keywords: Greed, Deception, Animals, Birds.
“Who is this pretty crane.”
This story the Teacher told in Jetavana about a greedy monk. He too was brought to the Dhamma Hall, when the Teacher said: “It is not only now that he is greedy; he was greedy before, and his greed lost him his life; and by his means wise men of old were driven out of house and home.” Then he told a story.
In the past, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, a rich merchant’s cook of that town hung up a nest-basket in the kitchen to win merit by it. The Bodhisatta at that time was a pigeon; and he came and lived in it.
Now a greedy crow as he flew over the kitchen was attracted by the fish which lay about in great variety. He fell hungering after it. “How in the world can I get some?” thought he. Then his eye fell upon the Bodhisatta. “I have it!” thought he, “I’ll make this creature do my work.” And this is how he carried out his resolve.
When the pigeon went out to seek his day’s food, behind him, following, following, came the crow.
“What do you want with me, Mr. Crow?” said the pigeon. “You and I don’t feed alike.”
“Ah, but I like you,” says the crow. “Let me be your humble servant, and feed with you.”
The pigeon agreed. But when they went feeding together, the crow only pretended to eat with him; ever and anon he would turn back, peck to bits some lump of cow-dung, and get a worm or two. When he had had his bellyful, up he flew, “Hello, Mr. Pigeon! What a time you take over your meal! You never know where to draw the line. Come, let’s be going back before it is too late.” And so they did. When they got back together, the cook, seeing that their pigeon had brought a friend, hung up another basket.
In this way things went on for four or five days. Then a great purchase of fish came to the rich man’s kitchen. How the crow longed for some! There he lay, from early morn, groaning and making a great noise.
In the morning, the pigeon said to the crow: “Come along, old fellow, breakfast!”
“You can go,” said he, “I have such a fit of indigestion!”
“A crow with indigestion? Nonsense!” said the pigeon. “Even a lamp-wick hardly stays any time in your stomach; and anything else you digest in a trice, as soon as you eat it. Now you do what I tell you. Don’t behave in this way just for seeing a little fish!”
“Why, sir, what are you saying? I tell, you I have a bad pain inside!”
“All right, all right,” said the pigeon, “only do take care.” And away he flew.
The cook got all the dishes ready, and then stood at the kitchen door, mopping the sweat off him. “Now’s my time!” thinks Mr. Crow, and alights on a dish with some dainty food in it. Click! The cook heard the noise, and looked round. Ah! In a twinkling he caught the crow, and plucked off all his feathers, except one tuft on the top of his head; then he powdered ginger and cinnamon, and mixed it up with buttermilk, and rubbed it in well all over the bird’s body. “That’s for spoiling my master’s dinner, and making me throw it away!” said he, and threw him into his basket. Oh, how it hurt!
By and by, in came the pigeon from his hunt. The first thing he saw was our crow, making a great to-do. What fun he did make of him, to be sure!
And these are the verses:
1. “Who is this pretty crane, and why
Does he in my crow’s basket lie?
An angry bird, my friend the crow!
This is his nest, I’d have you know!
2. Do you not know me, friend, indeed?
Together we were used to feed!
I would not do as I was told,
So now I’m plucked, as you behold.
3. You’ll come to grief again, I know
It is your nature to do so.
When people make a dish of meat
’Tis not for little birds to eat.”
As before, the Bodhisatta said: “I can’t live here any more,” and flew away somewhere else.
When this discourse was ended, the Teacher declared the Truths and identified the Jātaka, at the conclusion of the Truths, the greedy monk attained the Fruit of the Third Path. “The greedy monk was the crow, and I was the pigeon.”
last updated: November 2021