Ja 413 Dhūmakārijātaka
The Story about (the Goatherder) Dhūmakāri (7s)

In the present the king neglects his old and trusted warriors, and invests in newcomers, but because of distrust they did not prevail. The Buddha tells a similar story from the past, and how a goatherder had favoured deer over his goats, and eventually lost both.

The Bodhisatta = the wise Vidhura (Vidhurapaṇḍita),
(king) Pasenadi of Kosala = (the brahmin goatherder) Dhūmakāri,
Ānanda = king of the Kurus (Korabyarājā).

Past Compare: JA 495 Dasabrāhmaṇa, JA 545 Vidhura.

Keywords: Trust, Favour.

“The righteous king.” The Teacher told this tale while dwelling in Jetavana, concerning the Kosala king’s favour to a stranger. At one time, the story goes, that king showed no favour to his old warriors who came to him in the usual way, but gave honour and hospitality to strangers coming for the first time. He went to fight in a disturbed frontier province; but his old warriors would not fight, thinking that the newcomers who were in favour would do so; and the newcomers would not, thinking that the old warriors would. The rebels prevailed. The king, knowing that his defeat was owing to the mistake he had made in showing favour to newcomers, returned to Sāvatthi. He resolved to ask the One with Ten Powers whether he was the only king who had ever been defeated for that reason; so after the morning meal he went to Jetavana and put the question to the Teacher. The Teacher answered, “Great king, yours is not the only case; former kings also were defeated by reason of the favour they showed to newcomers,” and so, at the king’s request, he told a story of the past.

In the past in the city of Indapattana, in the kingdom of the Kurus, a king was reigning named Dhanañjaya, of the race of Yudhiṭṭhila. The Bodhisatta was born in the house of his family priest. When he grew up, he learned all the arts at Taxila. He returned to Indapattana, and at his father’s death he became family priest to the king and his counsellor in things temporal and spiritual. His name was Vidhurapaṇḍita. [3.242]

King Dhanañjaya disregarded his old soldiers and showed favour to newcomers. He went to fight in a disturbed frontier province; but neither his old warriors nor the newcomers would fight, each thinking the other party would see to the matter. The king was defeated. On his return to Indapattana he reflected that his defeat was due to the favour he had shown to newcomers. {3.401} One day he thought: “Am I the only king who has ever been defeated through favour shown to newcomers, or have others had the same fate before? I will ask Vidhurapaṇḍita.” So he put the question to Vidhurapaṇḍita when he came to the king’s levee.

The Teacher, declaring the reason of his question, spoke half a verse:

1. “The righteous king Yudhiṭṭhila once asked Vidhura wise:
‘Brahmin, do know in whose lone heart much bitter sorrow lies?’ ”

Hearing him, the Bodhisatta said: “Great king, your sorrow is but a trifling sorrow. Of old, a brahmin goatherd, named Dhūmakāri [Smoke-Maker], took a great flock of goats, and making a pen in the forest kept them there; he had a smoking fire and lived on milk and the like, tending his goats. Seeing some deer of golden hue who had come, he felt a love for them, and disregarding his goats he paid the honour due to them to the deer. In the autumn the deer moved away to the Himālayas; his goats were dead and the deer gone from his sight; so for sorrow he took jaundice and died. He paid honour to newcomers and perished, having sorrow and misery a hundred, a thousand times more than you.” Bringing forward this instance, he said:

2. “A brahmin with a flock of goats, of high Vasiṭṭha’s race,
Kept smoking fire by night and day in forest dwelling-place.

3. Smelling the smoke, a herd of deer, by gnats sore pestered, come
To find a dwelling for the rains near Dhūmakāri’s home.

4. The deer have all attention now; his goats receive no care,
They come and go untended all, and so they perish there. {3.402}

5. But now the gnats have left the wood, the autumn’s clear of rain;
The deer must seek the mountain-heights and river-springs again.

6. The brahmin sees the deer are gone and all his goats are dead;
Jaundice attacks him worn with grief, and all his colour’s fled.

7. So he who disregards his own, and calls a stranger dear,
Like Dhūmakāri, mourns alone with many a bitter tear.”

Such was the tale told by the Great Being to console the king. The king was comforted and pleased, and gave him much wealth. From that time onward he showed favour to his own people, and doing deeds of generosity and virtue, he became destined for heaven. [3.243]

After the lesson, the Teacher identified the Jātaka, “At that time the Kuru king was Ānanda, Dhūmakāri was Pasenadi, king of Kosala, and Vidhurapaṇḍita was myself.”