Ja 397 Manojajātaka
The Story about (the Lion) Manoja (7s)
In the present a monk ordained under the Buddha is easily persuaded to partake of Devadatta’s good food, rather than go on almsround. He is brought to the Buddha who tells a story of a lion who befriended a jackal and through following his bad advice was killed by the king’s men.
The Bodhisatta = the father, the king of the lions (pitā sīharājā),
Rāhulamātā = the mother (mātā),
Khemā = the wife (bhariyā),
Uppalavaṇṇā = the sister (bhaginī),
the monk who sided with the enemy = (the son) Manoja,
Devadatta = the jackal (sigāla).
Present Source: Ja 26 Mahilāmukhajātaka,
Quoted at: Ja 141 Godhajātaka, Ja 184 Giridantajātaka, Ja 186 Dadhivāhanajātaka, Ja 397 Manojajātaka.
Keywords: Bad company, Bad advice, Animals.
“The bow is bent.”
This story was told by the Teacher while at the Bamboo Grove, about Devadatta, who, having secured the adherence of prince Ajātasattu, had attained both gain and honour. Prince Ajātasattu had a monastery built for Devadatta at Gayāsīsa, and every day brought to him five hundred pots of perfumed three-year-old rice flavoured with all the choicest flavourings. All this gain and honour brought Devadatta a great following, with whom Devadatta lived on, without ever stirring out of his monastery.
At that time there were living in Rājagaha two friends, of whom one had taken the vows under the Teacher, while the other had taken them under Devadatta. And these continued to see one another, either casually or by visiting the monasteries. Now one day the disciple of Devadatta said to the other, “Sir, why do you daily go round for alms with the sweat streaming off you? Devadatta sits quietly at Gayāsīsa and feeds on the best of fare, flavoured with all the choicest flavourings. There’s no way like his. Why create misery for yourself? Why should it not be a good thing for you to come the first thing in the morning to the monastery at Gayāsīsa and there drink our rice-gruel with a relish after it, try our eighteen kinds of solid victuals, and enjoy our excellent soft food, flavoured with all the choicest flavourings?”
Being pressed time after time to accept the invitation, the other began to want to go, and thenceforth used to go to Gayāsīsa and there eat and eat, not forgetting however to return to the Bamboo Grove at the proper hour. Nevertheless he could not keep it secret always; and in a little while it came out that he used to go to Gayāsīsa and there regale himself with the food provided for Devadatta. Accordingly, his friends asked him, saying: “Is it true, as they say, that you regale yourself on the food provided for Devadatta?” “Who said that?” said he. “So-and-so said it.” “It is true, sirs, that I go to Gayāsīsa and eat there. But it is not Devadatta who gives me food; others do that.” “Sir, Devadatta is the foe of the Buddhas; in his wickedness, he has secured the adherence of Ajātasattu and by unrighteousness got gain and honour for himself. Yet you who have taken the vows according to this dispensation which leads to safety, eat the food which Devadatta gets by unrighteousness. Come; let us bring you before the Teacher.” And, taking with them the monk, they went to the Dhamma Hall.
When the Teacher became aware of their presence, he said: “Monks, are you bringing this monk here against his will?” “Yes, sir; this monk, after taking the vows under you, eats the food which Devadatta gets by unrighteousness.”
The Teacher said: “Monks, he is not keeping bad company for the first time,” and told a story of the past.
In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was a lion and living with a lioness had two children, a son and a daughter. The son’s name was Manoja. When he grew up he took a young lioness to wife; and so they became five. Manoja killed wild buffaloes and other animals, and so got flesh to feed his parents, sister and wife.
The Bodhisatta seeing him said: “Dear Manoja, jackals are wicked and sinners, and give wrong advice; don’t bring this one near you,” but could not hinder him. Then one day the jackal wished to eat horseflesh, and said to Manoja, “Sir, except horseflesh there is nothing we have not eaten; let us take a horse.” “But where are there horses, friend?” “At Benares by the river bank.” He took this advice and went with him there when the horses bathe in the river; he took one horse, and throwing it on his back he came with speed to the mouth of his den. His father eating the horseflesh said: “Dear, horses are kings’ property, kings have many stratagems, they have skilful archers to shoot; lions who eat horseflesh don’t live long, henceforward don’t take horses.”
The lion not following his father’s advice went on taking them. The king, hearing that a lion was taking the horses, had a bathing-tank for horses made inside the town; but the lion still came and took them. The king had a stable made, and had fodder and water given them inside it. The lion came over the wall and took the horses even from the stable. The king had an archer called who shot like lightning, and asked if he could shoot a lion. He said he could, and making a tower near the wall where the lion came he waited there. The lion came and, posting the jackal in a cemetery outside, sprang into the town to take the horses. The
1. “The bow is bent, the bowstring sounds amain;
Manoja, king of beasts, my friend, is slain.
2. Alas, I seek the woods as best I may;
Such friendship’s naught; others must be my stay.”
The lion with a rush came and threw the horse at the den’s mouth, falling dead himself. His kinsfolk came out and saw him blood-stained, blood flowing from his wounds, dead from following the wicked; and his father, mother, sister and wife seeing him spoke four verses in order;
3. “His fortune is not prosperous whom wicked folk entice;
Look at Manoja lying there, through Giriya’s advice.
4. No joy have mothers in a son whose comrades are not good;
Look at Manoja lying there all covered with his blood.
5. And even so fares still the man, in low estate he lies,
Who follows not the counsel of the true friend and the wise.
6. This, or worse than this, his fate
Who is high, but trusts the low;
See, ’tis thus from kingly state
He has fallen to the bow.”
Lastly, the verse spoken after Fully Awakening;
7. “Who follows outcastes is himself out cast,
Who courts his equals ne’er will be betrayed,
Who bows before the noblest rises fast;
Look therefore to your betters for thine aid.”
After the lesson, the Teacher declared the Truths and identified the Jātaka, After the Truths the monk who kept bad company was established in the fruition of the First Path. “At that time the jackal was Devadatta, Manoja was the keeper of bad company, his sister was Uppalavaṇnā, his wife the nun Khemā, his mother the mother of Rāhula, his father myself.”
last updated: November 2021