Ja 469 Mahākaṇhajātaka
The Story about the Great Black (Hound)

In the present the monks talk about the effort the Buddha makes to help and save others. The Buddha tells a story of how, as Sakka, he had frightened a dissolute people into obedience by threatening them with destruction at the hands of a big black hound.

The Bodhisatta = (the King of the Devas) Sakka,
Ānanda = (his charioteer) Mātali.

Present Source: Ja 469 Mahākaṇha,
Quoted at: Ja 50 Dummedha, Ja 347 Ayakūṭa, Ja 391 Dhajaviheṭha.

Keywords: Decay, Fear of wrongdoing, Devas.

“A black, black hound.” This story the Teacher told while dwelling at Jetavana, about living for the benefit of the world.

One day, they say, the monks as they sat in the Dhamma Hall, were talking together. “Sirs,” one would say, “the Teacher, ever practising friendship towards the multitudes of the people, has forsaken an agreeable abode, and lives just for the good of the world. He has attained supreme wisdom, yet of his own accord takes bowl and robe, and goes on a journey of eighteen leagues or more. For the five elders The five who accompanied Buddha when he began his life as an ascetic: Aññakoṇḍañña, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Assaji, Mahānāma. he set rolling the Wheel of the Dhamma; on the fifth day of the half-month he recited the Anattalakkhaṇa discourse, and made them Arahats; he went to Uruveḷa, He there preached to the fire-worshippers. and to the ascetics with matted hair he showed three and a half thousand miracles, and persuaded them to join the Saṅgha; at Gayāsīsa Now Brahmāthati, a mountain near Gayā. he taught the Discourse upon Fire, and made a thousand of these ascetics Arahats; [4.112] to Mahākassapa, See Journal of the Pali Text Society 1888, p. 67. when he had gone forward three miles to meet him, after three discourses he gave the higher ordination; all alone, after the noon-day meal, he went a journey of forty-five leagues, and then established in the Fruit of the Third Path Pukkusa (a youth of very good birth); to meet Mahākappina he went forward a space of two thousand leagues, and made him an Arahat; alone, in the afternoon he went a journey of thirty leagues, and made that cruel and harsh man Aṅgulimāla an Arahat; [Aṅgulimāla was a brahmin student.] thirty leagues also he traversed, and established Āḷavaka in the Fruit of the First Path, and saved the prince; in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three he dwelt three months, and taught Abhidhamma to eight hundred millions of deities; The beings who dwelt in the three worlds of Brahma were called “brahma.” The story alluded to here is given in No. 405 (iii. 219 of this translation); Hardy, Manual, p. 336. to the Brahmā Realm he went, and destroyed the false Dhamma of Baka Brahmā, Cp. ii. p. 57 of this translation. and made ten thousand Brahmās Arahats; every year he goes on pilgrimage in three districts, and to such men as are capable of receiving, he gives the Refuges, the Precepts, and the Fruits of the different stages; {4.181} he even acts for the good of Nāgas and Garuḷas and the like, in many ways.”

In such words they praised the goodness and worth of the One with Ten Powers’ life for the good of the world. The Teacher came in, and asked what they talked about as they sat there? They told him. “And no wonder, monks,” said he. “I who now in my perfect wisdom would live for the world’s good, even I in the past, in the days of passion, lived for the good of the world.” So saying, he told a story of the past.

In the past, in the days of the Supreme Buddha Kassapa, there reigned a king named Usīnara. It was a long time after the Supreme Buddha Kassapa had declared the Four Truths, and liberated multitudes of people from bondage, and had been translated to swell the number of those who dwell in Nibbāna; and the dispensation had fallen into decay. The monks gained their livelihood in the twenty-one unlawful ways; Cp. ii. p. 57 of this translation. they associated with the nuns, and sons and daughters were born to them; monks forsook the duties of the Saṅgha, and nuns forsook the duties of nuns, lay brethren and sisters the duties of such, brahmins no longer did the duties of a brahmin: men for the most part followed the ten paths of evil-doing, and as they died thus filled the hosts of all states of suffering.

Then Sakka, observing that no new deities came into being, looked abroad upon the world; and then he perceived how men were born into states of suffering, and that the dispensation of the Buddha had decayed. “What shall I do, now?” he wondered. “Ah, I have it!” thought he, “I will scare and terrify mankind; and when I see they are terrified, [4.113] I will console them, I will declare the Dhamma, I will restore dispensation which has decayed, I will make it last for another thousand years!” With this resolve, he made the Devaputta Mātali His charioteer. into the shape of a huge black hound, of pure breed, having four tusks as big as a plantain, horrible, with a hideous shape and a fat belly, as of a woman ready to be delivered of a child; him fastening with five-fold chain, {4.182} and putting on him a red wreath, he led by a cord. Himself he put on a pair of yellow garments, and bound his hair behind his head, and donned a red wreath; taking a huge bow, fitted with bowstring of the colour of coral, and twirling in his fingers a javelin tipped with adamant, he assumed the aspect of a forester, and descended at a spot one league away from the city. “The world is doomed to destruction, is doomed to destruction!” he called out thrice with a loud sound, so that he terrified the people; and when he reached the entering in of the city, he repeated the cry. The people on seeing the hound were frightened, and hasted into the city, and told the king what had happened.

The king speedily caused the city gates to be closed. But Sakka leapt over the wall, eighteen cubits in height, and with his hound stood within the city. The people in terror ran away into the houses, and made the doors fast. The Black Hound gave chase to every man he saw, and scared them, and finally entered into the king’s palace. The people who in their fright had taken refuge in the courtyard, ran into the palace, and shut the door. And as for the king, he with the ladies of his household went up on the terrace. The Black Hound raised his forefeet, and putting them in at the window roared a great roar. The sound of his roaring reached from hell to the highest heaven; the whole universe was one great roar.

The three great roars that were the loudest ever heard in Jambudīpa are these: the cry of king Puṇṇaka in the Puṇṇakajātaka [Ja 545], the cry of the snake king Sudassana in the Bhūridattajātaka [Ja 543], and this roar in the Mahākaṇhajātaka [Ja 469], telling the story of the Black Hound. Four sounds are given as proverbial by Hardy, Manual, p. 263; two of which are the first and third of these. The people were terrified and horrified, and not a man of them could say a word to Sakka.

The king plucked up heart, and approaching the window, cried out to Sakka, “Ho, huntsman! {4.183} why did your hound roar?” Said he, “The hound is hungry.” “Well,” said the king, “I will order some food to be given him.” So he told them to give him his own food, and the food of all his household. The hound seemed to make but one mouthful of the whole, then roared again. Again the king put his question. “My hound is still hungry,” was the reply. Then he had all the food of [4.114] his elephants and horses and so forth brought and given to him. This also he finished off all at once; and then the king had all the food in the city given him. He swallowed this in like manner, and roared again. Said the king, “This is no hound. Beyond all doubt he is a Yakkha. I will ask him wherefore he is come.” So terrified with fear, he asked his question by repeating the first verse:

1. “A black, black hound, with five cords bound, with fangs all white of hue,
Majestic, awful – mighty one! What makes he here with you?”

On hearing this, Sakka repeated the second verse:

2. “Not to hunt game the Black Hound came, but he shall be of use
To punish men, Usīnara, when I shall let him loose.”

Then said the king, “What, huntsman! Will the hound devour the flesh of all men, {4.184} or of your enemies only?” “Only my enemies, great king.” “And who are your enemies?” “Those, O king, who love unrighteousness, and walk wickedly.” “Describe them to us,” he asked. And the King of the Devas described them in the verses:

3. “When the false monks, bowl in hand, in one robe clad, shall choose
Tonsured the plough to follow, then the Black Hound I will loose.

4. When nuns of the Saṅgha shall in single robe be found,
Tonsured, yet walking in the world, I will let loose the Hound.

5. What time ascetics, usurers, protruding the upper lip,
Foul-toothed and filthy-haired shall be – the Black Hound I’ll let slip.

6. When brahmins, skilled in sacred books and holy rites, shall use
Their skill to sacrifice for pelf, the Black Hound shall go loose.

7. Whoso his parents now grown old, their youth now come to an end,
Would not maintain, although he might, Thus far the two verses occur in Snp, 98 and 124. ’gainst him the Hound I’ll send.

8. Who to his parents now grown old, their youth now come to an end,
Cries, ‘Fools are you!’ ’gainst such as he the Black Hound I will send.

9. When men go after others’ wives, of teacher, or of friend,
Sister of father, uncle’s wife, the Black Hound I will send.

10. When shield on shoulder, sword in hand, full-armed as highway men
They take the road to kill and rob, I’ll loose the Black Hound then.

11. When widows’ sons, with skin groomed white, in skill all useless found,
Strong-armed, shall quarrel and shall fight, then I will loose the Hound.

12. When men with hearts of evil full, false and deceitful men,
Walk in and out the world about, I’ll loose the Black Hound then.” {4.186}

When he had thus spoken, “These,” said he, “are my enemies, O king!” and he made as though he would let the hound leap forth and devour all those who did the deeds of enemies. But as all the multitude was terror-struck, he held in the hound by the leash, and seemed as [4.115] it were to fix him to the spot; then putting off the disguise of a hunter, by his power he rose and poised himself in the air, all blazing as it appeared, and said: “O great king, I am Sakka, King of the Devas! Seeing that the world was about to be destroyed, I came here. Now indeed men as they die are filling the states of suffering, because their deeds are evil, and heaven is become empty. From henceforth I will know how to deal with the wicked, but do you be vigilant.” Then having in four verses well worth remembering declared the Dhamma, and established the people in the virtues of liberality, he strengthened the waning power of dispensation so that it lasted for yet another thousand years, and then with Mātali returned to his own place.

When the Teacher had ended this discourse, he added, “Thus, monks, in former times as now I have lived for the good of the world,” and then he identified the Jātaka, “At that time Ānanda was Mātali, and I was Sakka.”