Ja 383 Kukkuṭajātaka
The Story about the (Undeceived) Chicken (6s)

In the present one monk is in danger of falling away through the sight of a woman. The Buddha tells a story of a cat who ate up many chickens, and tried to lure the last chicken from a tree by promise of marriage, only to be rebuffed.

The Bodhisatta = the king of the chickens (kukkuṭarājā).

Keywords: Lust, Treachery, Animals, Birds.

“Bird with wings.” {3.265} The Teacher told this tale in Jetavana, concerning a monk who longed for the world. The Teacher asked him, “Why do you long for the world?” “Lord, through passion, for I saw a woman adorned.” “Monk, women are like cats, deceiving and cajoling to bring to ruin one who has come into their power,” so he told a story of the past.

In the past when Brahmadatta was king in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as a chicken and lived in the forest with a retinue of many hundred chickens. Not far away lived a female cat; and she deceived [3.169] by devices the other chickens except the Bodhisatta and ate them; but the Bodhisatta did not fall into her power. She thought: “This chicken is very crafty, but he knows not that I am crafty and have skill in means: it is good that I cajole him, saying, ‘I will be your wife,’ and so eat him when he comes into my power.” She went to the root of the tree where he perched, and praying him in a speech preceded by praise of his beauty, she spoke the first verse:

1. “Bird with wings that flash so gaily, crest that droops so gracefully,
I will be your wife for nothing, leave the bough and come to me.”

The Bodhisatta hearing her thought: “She has eaten all my relatives; now she wishes to cajole and eat me: I will get rid of her.” So he spoke the second verse:

2. “Lady fair and winning, you have four feet, I have only two:
Beasts and birds should never marry: for some other husband sue.” {3.266}

Then she thought: “He is exceedingly crafty; by some device or other I will deceive him and eat him,” so she spoke the third verse:

3. “I will bring you youth and beauty, pleasant speech and courtesy:
Honoured wife or simple slave girl, at your pleasure deal with me.”

Then the Bodhisatta thought: “It is best to revile her and drive her away,” so he spoke the fourth verse:

4. “You have drunk my kindred’s blood, and robbed and slain them cruelly:
Honoured wife! There is no honour in your heart when wooing me.”

She was driven away and did not endure to look at him again.

5. “So when they see a hero, women sly,
(Compare the cat and chicken,) to tempt him try.

6. He that to great occasion fails to rise
’Neath foeman’s feet in sorrow prostrate lies. {3.267}

7. One prompt a crisis in his fate to see,
As chicken from cat, escapes his enemy.”

These are verses spoken after Fully Awakening.

His lesson ended, the Teacher declared the Truths and identified the Jātaka, after the Truths, the discontented monk was established in the fruition of the First Path. “At that time the chicken was myself.”