Book XII. Dvādasanipāta
The Section with Twelve Verses (464-473)
Ja 464 Cullakuṇālajātaka
The Short Story about the Indian Cuckoo (12s)
Alternative Title: Cūḷakuṇālajātaka (Cst)
There is no story of the present. The Buddha tells a story of how a queen was caught in an affair with her groom, and was removed from her high position.
The Bodhisatta = king (of the cuckoos) Kuṇāla.
Past Source: Ja 536 Kuṇāla,
Quoted at: Ja 464 Cullakuṇāla.
Keywords: Lust, Adultery.
“Poor fickle creatures.”
In the past the wife of Brahmadatta, Piṅgiyānī by name, opening her window looked out and saw a royal groom, and, when the king had fallen asleep, she got down through the window and committed adultery with him, and then again climbed back to the palace and shampooed her person with perfumes and lay down with the king. Now one day the king thought: “I wonder why at midnight the person of the queen is always cool: I will examine into the matter.” So one day he pretended to be asleep and got up and followed her and saw her committing folly with a groom. He returned and climbed up to his chamber, and she too after she had been guilty of adultery came and lay down on the small bed. Next day the king, in the presence of his ministers, summoned her and made known her misconduct, saying: “All women alike are sinners.” And he forgave her offence, though it deserved death, imprisonment, mutilation, or cleaving asunder, but he deposed her from her high rank and made someone else his queen consort. At that time king Kuṇāla was Brahmadatta, and so it was that he told this story as of something he had seen with his own eyes, and by way of illustration he repeated this verse:
1. “Fair Piṅgiyānī was as wife adored
By Brahmadatta, earth’s all conquering lord,
Yet did wrong with devoted husband’s slave,
And lost by lechery both king and cheat.”
After telling of the defilements of women in old world stories, in yet another way, still speaking of their misdeeds, he said:
2. “Poor fickle creatures women are, ungrateful, treacherous they,
No man if not possessed would deign to credit aught they say.
3. Little reck they of duty’s call or plea of gratitude,
Insensible to parents’ love and ties of Saṅgha,
Transgressing every law of right, they play a shameless part,
In all their acts obedient to the wish of their own heart.
4. However long they dwell with him, though kind and loving he,
Tender of heart and dear to them as life itself may be,
In times of trouble and distress, leave him they will and must,
I for my part in womenfolk can never put my trust.
5. How often is a woman’s mind like shifty monkey’s found,
Or like the shade cast by a tree on height or depth around,
How changeful too the purpose lodged within a woman’s breast,
Like tire of wheel revolving swift without a pause or rest.
6. Whene’er with due reflection they look round and see their way
To captivate some man of wealth and make of him their prey,
Such simpletons with words so soft and smooth they captive lead,
E’en as Cambodian groom with herbs will catch the fiercest steed.
7. But if when looking round with care they fail to see their way
To get possession of his wealth and make of him a prey,
They drive him off, as one that now has reached the furthest shore
And cuts adrift the ferry boat he needeth nevermore.
8. Like fierce devouring flame they hold him fast in their embrace,
Or sweep him off like stream in flood that hurries on apace;
They court the man they hate as much as one that they adore,
E’en as a ship that hugs alike the near and farther shore.
9. They not to one or two belong, like open stall are they,
One might as soon catch wind with net as women hold in sway.
10. Like river, road, or drinking shed, assembly hall or inn,
So free to all are womenfolk, no limits check their sins.
11. Fell as black serpent’s head are they, as ravenous as a fire,
As kine the choicest herbage pick, they lovers rich desire.
12. From elephant, black serpent, and from flame that’s fed on ghee,
From man besprinkled to be king, and women we should flee.
All these whoso is on his guard will treat as deadly foe,
Indeed their very nature it is very hard to know.
13. Women who very clever are or very fair to view,
And such as many men admire – all these one should eschew;
A neighbour’s wife and one that seeks a man of wealth for mate,
Such kind of women, five in all, no man should cultivate.”
last updated: November 2021