Ja 430 Cullasukajātaka
The Short Story about the Parrot (King) (9s)

Alternative Title: Cūḷasuvajātaka (Cst)

In the present because of a drought the Buddha has difficulties obtaining alms but continues on at the village until the end of the retreat. The Buddha tells a story of a parrot who refused to leave a dead fig tree he had lived in, and how Sakka commended him and restored the tree.

The Bodhisatta = the king of the parrots (suvarājā),
Anuruddha = (the King of the Devas) Sakka.

Past Source: Ja 429 Mahāsuka,
Quoted at: Ja 430 Cullasuka,
Past Compare: Dhp-a II.9 Nigamavāsitissatthera.

Keywords: Contentment, Loyalty, Devas.

“Lo! Countless trees.” [3.294] This story the Teacher dwelling at Jetavana told concerning the Verañjā section. See Vinaya, Pār. i. 1-4.

When the Teacher after passing the rainy season at Verañjā in due course arrived at Sāvatthi, the monks in the Dhamma Hall raised a discussion saying: “Sirs, a Tathāgata, a delicately nurtured noble and Buddha, though possessed of Supernormal Powers, at the invitation of a brahmin of Verañjā stayed three ṁonths with him, and when owing to the temptation of Māra he failed to receive an alms at the hands of the brahmin, even for a single day, he gave up all covetous ways, and keeping in the same place for three months lived on water and a modicum of the ground flour of roots. {3.495} Oh the contented nature of Tathāgatas!” When the Teacher came and on inquiry learned the nature of their discussion he said: “It is no marvel, monks, that a Tathāgata now has lost all covetousness, seeing that formerly when born in an animal form he forsook covetousness.” And hereupon he told a story of the past. The whole story is now to be related in detail in exactly the same way as in the preceding tale [Ja 429].

In the past many myriads of parrots lived in the Himālayas on the banks of the Ganges in a grove of fig trees. A king of the parrots there, when the fruit of the tree in which he dwelt had come to an end, ate whatever was left, whether shoot or leaf or bark or rind, and drank of water from the Ganges, and being very happy and contented he kept where he was. Owing to his happy and contented state the abode of Sakka was shaken. Sakka reflecting on the cause saw the parrot, and to test his virtue, by his supernatural power he withered up the tree, which became a mere stump perforated with holes, and stood to be buffeted by every blast of wind, and from the holes dust came out. The parrot king ate this dust and drank the water of the Ganges, and going nowhere else sat perched on the top of the fig-stump, thinking nothing of wind and sun.

Sakka noticed how very contented the parrot was, and said: “After hearing him speak of the virtue of friendship, I will come and give him his choice of a boon, and cause the fig tree to bear ambrosial fruit.” So he took the form of a royal goose, and preceded by Sujā in the shape of an Asura maiden, he went to the grove of fig trees, and perching on the bough of a tree close by, he entered into conversation with the parrot and spoke the first verse:

1. “Lo! Countless trees are here, all green and fruitful see!
Why, parrot, do you cling to this poor withered tree?”

2. “Long years we have enjoyed the luscious fruit it bare,
And tho’ it now has none, it still should claim our care.”

3. “Nor leaves nor fruit it yields, alas, the tree is dead:
Why blame your fellow-birds, that they should all have fled?”

4. “They loved it for its fruit, and now that it has none,
Poor selfish fools! Their love and gratitude is gone.”

5. “Your gratitude I own, [Verses 5 and 6, and 9 and 10 correspond to verses in the previous Jātaka.] your true and constant love,
Sure virtue such as this the wise will aye approve.”

6. “I offer you, O bird, whate’er you will for choice;
Tell me, I pray, what boon would most your heart rejoice?”

7. “Would that this tree alight bear fresh leaves and fruit again;
I would be glad as they that treasure trove obtain.”

8. Then was the tree by Sakka with ambrosia sprinkled o’er,
And boughs sprang up with cooling shade, as lovely as before.

9. May Sakka and all loved by Sakka blesséd be,
As I today am blessed this joyous sight to see.

10. Thus was the tree made fruitful by the parrot’s grateful choice,
And Sakka and his queen in groves of Nandana rejoice. {3.496}

The Teacher, his lesson ended, identified the Jātaka, “In those days Sakka was Anuruddha, the parrot king was myself.”