Ja 324 Cammasāṭakajātaka
The Story about (the Wanderer) Cammasāṭaka (4s)

In the present one wanderer on his rounds meets with a ram, who he thinks is paying respects to him, whereas he is just winding up to butt him, which he does, and in a deadly way. The Buddha tells a similar story of the past, and of a dialogue that occurred before the deadly blow.

The Bodhisatta = the wise merchant (paṇḍitavāṇija),
(the wanderer who wore leather) Cammasāṭaka = the same in the past.

Keywords: Vanity, Animals.

“The kindly beast.” [3.55] {3.82} This story was told by the Teacher while living at Jetavana, about Cammasāṭaka, a mendicant monk who wore a leather jacket. Mahāvagga, viii. 28. 2. Both his upper and under garment, it is said, were of leather. One day sallying out of the monastery, he went his rounds in Sāvatthi for alms, till he came to the fighting-ground of the rams. A ram on seeing him drew back, desiring to butt him. The mendicant thought: “He is doing this, as an act of respect for me,” and himself did not draw back. The ram came on with a rush and striking him on the thigh felled him to the ground. This case of imaginary salutation was blazed abroad in the Saṅgha.

The matter was discussed by them in the Dhamma Hall, as to how the leather-coated mendicant fancied he was being saluted and met with his death. The Teacher came and inquired into the subject of their discussion and on being told what it was said: “Not only now, monks, but of old too this ascetic imagined he was being saluted and so came by his death,” and he then related to them a story of the past.

In the past the Bodhisatta was born in a merchant family and plied his trade. At that time a certain mendicant, clad in a leather garment, in going his rounds for alms, came to the rams’ fighting ground, and on seeing a ram falling back before him, he fancied it did this as a mark of respect, and did not himself retire. “In the whole world,” he thought, “this ram alone recognises my merits,” and raising his joined hands in respectful salutation he stood and repeated the first verse:

1. “The kindly beast obeisance makes before
The high-caste brahmin versed in holy lore.
Good honest creature you,
Famous above all other beasts, I vow!” {3.83}

At this moment a wise merchant sitting in his stores, to restrain the mendicant, uttered the second verse:

2. “Brahmin, be not so rash this beast to trust,
Else will he haste to lay you in the dust,
For this the ram falls back,
To gain an impetus for his attack.”

While this wise merchant was still speaking, the ram came on at full speed, and striking the mendicant on the thigh, knocked him down. He [3.56] was maddened with the pain and as he lay groaning, the Teacher, to explain the incident, gave utterance to the third verse:

3. “With broken leg and bowl for alms upset,
His damaged fortune he will sore regret.
Let him not weep with outstretched arms in vain,
Haste to the rescue, ere the monk is slain.”

Then the mendicant repeated the fourth verse:

4. “Thus all that honour to the unworthy pay,
Share the same fate that I have met today;
Prone in the dust by butting ram laid low
To foolish confidence my death I owe.” {3.84}

Thus lamenting he there and then came by his death.

The Teacher, his lesson ended, thus identified the Jātaka, “The man in the leather coat of today was the same then as now. And I myself was the wise merchant.”