Ja 372 Migapotakajātaka
The Story about the Young Deer (who Died) (5s)

In the present one old monk has a novice to help him. But when the novice dies he is inconsolable. The Buddha tells a story of an ascetic who brought up a young deer, and the advice he received from Sakka when it died.

The Bodhisatta = (the King of the Devas) Sakka,
the novice = the deer (miga),
the old monk = the ascetic (tāpasa).

Past Compare: Ja 372 Migapotaka, Ja 410 Somadatta.

Keywords: Grief, Wisdom, Animals.

“To sorrow for the dead.” This story the Teacher, while dwelling at Jetavana, told about a certain elder. It is said that he admitted a youth to orders, and that this novice, after ministering to him zealously, by and by fell sick and died. The old man overcome with grief at the youth’s death went about loudly lamenting. The monks, failing to console him, raised a discussion in the Dhamma Hall, saying: “A certain old man on the death of his novice goes about lamenting. By dwelling on the thought of death, he will surely become a castaway.” When the Teacher came, he inquired of the monks what was the subject they had met to discuss, and on hearing what it was he said: “Not only now, but formerly also, the old man went about lamenting, when this youth died.” And with this he related a story of the past.

In the past in the reign of Brahmadatta, king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was born in the form of Sakka. At that time a man, who lived in the kingdom of Kāsi, came into the Himālayas region, and [3.141] adopting the life of an ascetic lived on wild fruits. One day he found in the forest a young deer that had lost its mate. He took it home to his hermitage, and fed and cherished it. The young deer grew up a handsome and comely beast, and the ascetic took care of it and treated it as his own child. One day the young deer died of indigestion from a surfeit of grass. The ascetic went about lamenting and said: “My child is dead.” Then Sakka, king of heaven, exploring the world, saw that ascetic, {3.214} and thinking to alarm him, he came and took his stand in the air and uttered the first verse:

1. “To sorrow for the dead does ill become
The lone ascetic, free from ties of home.”

The ascetic no sooner heard this than he uttered the second verse:

2. “Should man with beast consort, O Sakka, grief
For a lost playmate finds in tears relief.”

Then Sakka repeated two verses:

3. “Such as to weep are fain may still lament the dead,
Weep not, O sage, ’tis vain to weep, the wise have said.

4. If by our tears we might prevail against the grave,
Thus would we all unite our dearest ones to save.”

While Sakka was thus speaking, the ascetic recognising that it was useless to weep, and singing the praises of Sakka, repeated three verses: These verses are to be found in No. 352 supra, and in No. 410 infra. [As can be seen the verses exceed the expected count of five.] {3.215}

5. “As ghee-fed flame that blazes out amain
Is quenched with water, so he quenched my pain.

6. With sorrow’s shaft my heart was wounded sore:
He healed my wound and did my life restore.

7. The barb extracted, full of joy and peace,
At Sakka’s words I from my sorrow cease.”

After thus admonishing the ascetic, Sakka departed to his own place of abode.

The Teacher here ended his lesson and identified the Jātaka, “At that time the old man was the ascetic, the novice was the deer, and I myself was Sakka.”