Ja 300 Vakajātaka Mahāvagga, i. 31. 3 foll. (translation in Sacred Books of the East, i. p. 175); Folk-Lore Journal, 3. 359; Morris, Contemporary Review xxiv. 739.
The Story about the Wolf (3s)
In the present while the Buddha is on retreat he gives leave for those who practice the austerities to visit him. Monks would dress up in old robes to get the privilege, and then throw the robes away. The Buddha told a story about a wolf who decided to keep the Uposatha precepts, including non-killing, until he saw a goat and relented of his austerity.
The Bodhisatta = (the King of the Devas) Sakka.
Present Compare: Vin Nis Pāc 15 (3.230).
Keywords: Falsehood, Impersonation, Animals.
“The wolf who takes.”
In the past, when Brahmadatta reigned king in Benares, the Bodhisatta came to life as Sakka, King of the Devas. At that time a wolf lived on a rock by the Ganges bank. The winter floods came up and surrounded the rock. There he lay upon the rock, with no food and no way of getting it. The water rose and rose, and the wolf pondered, “No food here, and no way to get it. Here I lie, with nothing to do. I may as well keep the Uposatha precepts.” Thus resolved to keep the Uposatha precepts, as he lay he solemnly resolved to keep the precepts. Sakka in his meditations perceived the wolf’s weak resolve. He thought: “I’ll plague that wolf,” and taking the shape of a wild goat, he stood near, and let the wolf see him.
“I’ll keep Uposatha precepts another day!” thought the wolf, as he spied him; up he got, and leaped at the creature. But the goat jumped about so that the wolf could not catch him. When our wolf saw that he could not catch him, he came to a standstill, and went back, thinking to himself as he lay down again, “Well, my Uposatha precepts are not broken after all.”
Then Sakka, by his divine power, hovered above in the air; said he, “What have such as you, all unstable, to do with keeping the Uposatha precepts? You didn’t know that I was Sakka, and wanted a meal of goat’s-flesh!” and thus plaguing and rebuking him, he returned to the world of the gods.
1. “The wolf, who takes live creatures for his food,
And makes a meal upon their flesh and blood,
Once undertook a holy vow to pay –
Made his mind to keep the Uposatha day.
2. When Sakka learned what he resolved to do,
He made himself a goat to outward view.
Then the blood-bibber leaped to seize his prey,
His vow forgot, his virtue cast away.
3. Even so some persons in this world of ours,
That make resolves which are beyond their powers,
Swerve from their purpose, as the wolf did here
As soon as they behold the goat appear.”
When the Teacher had ended this discourse, he identified the Jātaka as follows, “At that time I myself was Sakka.”
End of the Third Book
last updated: November 2021