Ja 416 Parantapajātaka
The Story about (the Attendant) Parantapa (7s)
In the present the monks are discussing how Devadatta goes about trying to kill the Buddha. The Buddha tells a story of a prince who could understand the speech of animals and thwarted their plans. It also tells of how a prince found out his father’s murderer, who lived in fear of discovery, and took his revenge.
The Bodhisatta = the son of the king (puttarājā),
Ānanda = the family priest (purohita),
Devadatta = the father king (piturājā).
Keywords: Fear, Revenge, Animals.
“Terror and fear.”
They were discussing it in the Dhamma Hall, “Sirs, Devadatta
In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as the son of his chief queen. When he grew up, he learned all the arts at Taxila, and acquired a spell for the understanding of all animals’ cries. After listening duly to his teacher, he returned to Benares. His father appointed him viceroy; but though he did so, he became anxious to kill him and would not even see him.
A female jackal with two cubs entered the city at night by a sewer, when men were retired to rest. In the Bodhisatta’s palace, near his bedroom, there was a chamber, where a single traveller, who had taken his shoes off and put them by his feet on the floor, was lying down, not yet asleep, on a plank. The jackal-cubs were hungry and gave a cry. Their mother said in the speech of jackals, “Do not make a noise, dears; there is a man in that chamber who has taken his shoes off and laid them on the floor; he is lying on a plank, but is not asleep yet; when he falls asleep, I will take his shoes and give you food.” By the power of the spell the Bodhisatta understood her call, and leaving his bedroom he opened a window and said: “Who is there?” “I, your majesty, a traveller.” “Where are your shoes?” “On the floor.” “Lift them and hang them up.” Hearing this the jackal was angry with the Bodhisatta.
One day she entered the city again by the same way. That day a drunken man
On the third day the hostile king came and encompassed the city. The king said to the Bodhisatta, “Go, dear son, and fight him.” “O king, I have seen a vision; I cannot go, for I fear I shall lose my life.” “What is your life or death to me? Go.” The Great Being obeyed; taking his men he avoided the gate where the hostile king was posted, and went out by another which he had opened. As he went the whole city became as it were deserted, for all men went out with him. He encamped in a certain open space and waited. The king thought: “My viceroy has emptied the city and fled with all my forces; the enemy is lying all round the city;
His father made a hut of leaves on a river bank and lived there on wild fruits. He and the family priest used to go looking for wild fruits; the servant Parantapa stayed with the queen in the hut. She was with child by the king; but owing to being constantly with Parantapa, she did wrong with him. One day she said to him, “If the king knows, neither you nor I would live; kill him.” “In what way?” “He makes you carry his sword and bathing-dress when he goes to bathe; take him off his guard at the bathing-place, cut off his head and chop his body to pieces with the sword and then bury him in the ground.” He agreed.
One day the priest had gone out for wild fruits; he had climbed a tree near the king’s bathing-place and was gathering the fruit. The king wished to bathe, and came to the water-side with Parantapa carrying his sword and bathing-dress. As he was going to bathe, Parantapa, meaning to kill him when off his guard, seized him by the neck and raised the sword. The king cried out in fear of death. The priest heard the cry and saw from above that Parantapa was murdering him; but he was in great terror and slipping down from his branch in the tree, he hid in a thicket. Parantapa heard the noise he made as he slipped down, and after killing and burying the king he thought: “There was a noise of slipping from a branch thereabouts; who is there?” But seeing no man he bathed and went away.
Then the priest came out of his hiding-place;
The queen bore a son. As he was growing up, she said to Parantapa one day at early morning when seated comfortably, “Some one saw you when you were killing the king?” “No one saw me; but I heard the noise of something slipping from a bough; whether it was man or beast I cannot tell; but whenever fear comes on me it must be from the cause of the boughs creaking,” and so in conversation with her he spoke the first verse:
1. “Terror and fear fall on me even now,
For then a man or beast did shake a bough.”
They thought the priest was asleep, but he was awake and heard their talk. One day, when Parantapa had gone for wild fruits, the priest remembered his brahmin-wife and spoke the second verse in lamentation;
2. “My true wife’s home is near at hand; my love will make me be
Pale like Parantapa and thin, at quivering of a tree.”
The queen asked what he was saying. He said: “I was only thinking,” but one day again he spoke the third verse:
3. “My dear wife’s in Benares; her absence wears me now
To pallor like Parantapa’s at shaking of a bough.”
Again one day he spoke a fourth verse:
4. “Her black eye’s glow, her speech and smiles in thought do bring me now
To pallor like Parantapa’s at shaking of a bough.”
In time the young prince grew up and reached the age of sixteen. Then the brahmin made him take a stick, and going with him to the bathing-place opened his eyes and looked.
5. “Surely that sound has come to you and told you what befell;
Surely the man who bent the bough has come the tale to tell.
6. The foolish thought that once I had has reached your knowledge now;
That day a witness, man or beast, was there and shook the bough.”
Then the prince spoke the last verse:
7. “ ’Twas thus you slew my father with trait’rous word, untrue;
You hid his body in the boughs; now fear has come to you.”
So saying, he slew him on the spot, buried him and covered the place with branches; then washing the sword and bathing, he went back to the hut of leaves. He told the priest how he had killed Parantapa; he censured his mother, and saying: “What shall we do now?” the three went back to Benares. The Bodhisatta made the young prince viceroy and doing generosity and other good works passed fully through the path to heaven.
After the lesson, the Teacher identified the Jātaka, “At that time Devadatta was the old king, I myself was the young one.”
last updated: November 2021