Ja 344 Ambacorajātaka
The Story about the Mango Thief (4s)
Alternative Title: Ambajātaka (Cst)
In the present a false ascetic lives in a mango grove and steals mangoes for himself and his relatives, but when some thieves stole the mangoes he accused the four daughters of a rich man of theft until they took an oath. The Buddha tells of similar events in the past and the oaths the young women made.
The Bodhisatta = (the King of the Devas) Sakka,
the four wealthy man’s daughters = the same in the past (catasso seṭṭhidhītaro),
the monk who watched the mangoes = the cheating matted-haired ascetic (kūṭajaṭila).
Keywords: Theft, Honour, Curses.
“She that did your mangoes eat.”
“Sir,” they said, “we have but just come; we have not eaten your mangoes.”
“Then take an oath,” he said.
“We will, sir,” they said, and took an oath. The old man having thus put them to shame, by making them take an oath, let them go.
The monks, hearing of his action, raised a discussion in the Dhamma Hall, how that an old man exacted an oath from the daughters of a merchant, who entered the mango orchard where he himself lived, and after putting them to shame by administering an oath to them, let them go. When the Teacher came and on inquiring what was the topic they sat in council to discuss, heard what it was, he said: “Not only now, monks, but formerly also this old man, when he kept watch over mangoes, made certain daughters of a rich merchant take an oath, and after thus putting them to shame let them go.” And so saying he told a story of the past.
In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta became Sakka. At that time a cheating ascetic built a hermitage of leaves in a mango orchard on a river bank near Benares, and keeping watch over the mangoes, ate the ripe fruit that fell from the mango trees and also gave some to his kinsfolk, and dwelt there gaining his livelihood by various false practices.
At this time Sakka, king of heaven, thought: “Who, I wonder, in this world of men support their parents, pay honour to the aged members of their family, give alms, keep the moral law and observe fast day? Which of them after adopting the ascetic life, continually devote themselves to the duties befitting ascetics, and which of them again are guilty of misconduct?” And exploring the world he spied this wicked ascetic keeping watch over his mangoes
They said: “Sir, we have but just come. We have not eaten them.”
“Then take an oath,” he said.
“But in that case may we go?” they asked. “Certainly, you may.”
“Very well, sir,” they said, and the eldest of them swore an oath uttering the first verse:
1. “She that did your mangoes eat,
As her lord shall own some churl,
That with dye grey hairs would cheat
And his locks with tongs would curl.”
The ascetic said: “Stand you on one side,” and he made the second daughter of the merchant take an oath, and she repeated the second verse:
2. “Let the maid that robbed your tree
Vainly for a husband sigh,
Past her teens though she may be
And on thirty verging nigh.”
And after she had taken an oath and stood on one side, the third maiden uttered the third verse:
3. “She that your ripe mangoes ate
Weary path shall tread alone,
And at trysting place too late
Grieve to find her lover gone.”
When she had taken an oath and stood aside, the fourth maiden uttered the fourth verse:
4. “She that did your tree despoil
Gaily dressed, with wreath on head,
And bedewed with sandal oil
Still shall seek a virgin bed.”
The ascetic said: “This is a solemn oath you have taken; others must have eaten the mangoes. Do you therefore now be gone.” And so saying, he sent them away. Sakka then presented himself in a terrible form, and drove away the false ascetic from the place.
The Teacher, having ended his lesson, identified the Jātaka, “At that time this false ascetic was the old man who watched mangoes. The four merchant’s daughters played the same part then as now. But Sakka was myself.”
last updated: November 2021