Ja 379 Nerujātaka
The Story about (Mount) Neru (6s)

In the present one virtuous monk goes to stay in a village, but the villagers abandon him for the sectarians. The Buddha tells a story of how two golden birds would not stay on Mount Neru which made all birds appear golden, as it made no discrimination in casting its lustre.

The Bodhisatta = the elder goose (jeṭṭhakahaṁsa),
Ānanda = the younger goose (kaniṭṭhahaṁsa).

Keywords: Discrimination, Animals, Birds.

“Ravens and crows.” The Teacher told this tale in Jetavana concerning a certain monk. The story is that he got instruction in meditation from the Teacher and then went to a frontier village. There the people, pleased with his behaviour, fed him, built him a hut in the wood, and exacting a promise, made him live there, and gave him great honour. But they forsook him for the teachers of the permanence of matter, afterwards forsaking those for the sect who deny immortality, and those again for the sect of naked ascetics: for teachers of all these sects came among them in turn. So he was unhappy [3.160] among those people who knew not good and evil, and after the rains and the Invitation The festival at the end of the rains. he went back to the Teacher, and at his request told him where he had stayed during the Rains Retreat and that he had been unhappy among people who knew not good and evil. The Teacher said: “Sages of old, even when born as beasts, stayed not a day among those who knew not good and evil, why have you done so?” and so he told the tale.

In the past when Brahmadatta was king in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as a golden goose. Along with his younger brother {3.247} he lived on the hill Cittakūṭa and fed on wild paddy in the Himālayas. One day in their flight back to Cittakūṭa they saw the golden mountain Neru and settled on its summit. Around the mountain dwell birds and beasts of various kinds for feeding ground: from the time of their coming to the mountain onwards they became golden of hue from its lustre. The Bodhisatta’s brother saw this, but being ignorant of the cause said: “Now what is the cause here?” and so talking to his brother he spoke two verses:

1. “Ravens and crows, and we the best of birds,
When on this mountain, all appear the same.

2. Mean jackals rival tigers and their lords,
The lions: what can be the mountain’s name?”

The Bodhisatta hearing this spoke the third verse:

3. “Noblest of Mountains, Neru is it hight,
All animals are here made fair to sight.”

The younger one hearing this spoke the remaining three verses:

4. “Where’er the good find honour small or none,
Or less than others, live not, but begone.

5. Dull and clever, brave and coward, all are honoured equally:
Undiscriminating mountain, good men will not stay on you! {3.248}

6. Best, indifferent and meanest Neru does not separate,
Undiscriminating Neru, we, alas, must leave you straight.”

With this they both flew up and went to Cittakūṭa.

After the lesson, the Teacher proclaimed the Truths and identified the Jātaka, at the close of the Truths, that monk was established in the fruition of the First Path. “At that time the younger goose was Ānanda, the elder was myself.”