Ja 273 Kacchapajātaka
The Story about (the Biting) Turtle

A Pāli and English line by line (interlinear) version of this Jātaka story, including the word commentary, which has never been translated in full before.

translated by
Ānandajoti Bhikkhu
(December, 2021)




In the original translation by W.H.D. Rouse in 1895 the Story of the Past was considered so risque, he only translated it into Latin, presumably thinking the educated should have access to it, but not the commoner. I reproduce the original translation in a separate document.

By the standards of our bad-mouthing and pornography-saturated culture it seems very mild these days, and I trust that the student can handle the story for themselves, so I give the translation in full.

The stories are somewhat of a mismatch. In the present the Buddha manages to reconcile two ministers who previously had always been quarreling, and he then tells a story supposedly showing how he did the same in the past.

Unfortunately, the story does no such thing. There a monkey puts his penis into the mouth of a sleeping turtle on the river bank, and the turtle in turn bites down on him, and will not let go.

After the monkey goes to the Bodhisatta (an ascetic living in the wilderness), the latter persuades the tortoise to let go, and the monkey runs away into the forest. There is no hint, though, of the two being reconciled.


In the present two ministers are always arguing with each other, and not even the king can prevent them. The Buddha tells a story of how a monkey attacked a turtle and was bitten in return, and how the Bodhisatta persuaded the turtle to let the monkey go.

The Bodhisatta = the ascetic (tāpasa),
the two ministers = the turtle and the monkey (kacchapavānarā).

Present Source: Ja 154 Uraga,
Quoted at: Ja 165 Nakula, Ja 273 Kacchapa.

Keywords: Quarrels, Determination.

The Story of the Present

Ko {2.359} nu uddhitabhatto vā ti.
What is that pile of food.

Idaṁ Satthā Jetavane viharanto,
The Teacher, while living at Jeta’s Wood,

Kosalarājassa dvinnaṁ mahāmattānaṁ kalahavūpasamanaṁ ārabbha kathesi.
taught this concerning the settling of a quarrel between two ministers of the king of Kosala.

Paccuppannavatthu Dukanipāte kathitam-eva.
The Story of the Present has been told in the Section with Two Verses. Specifically in Ja 154 Uragajātaka, which I include here.

Kosalarañño kira sevakā seṇipamukhā dve mahāmattā,
It seems the king of Kosala had two ministers, who were attendants and leaders of a guild,

aññamaññaṁ diṭṭhaṭṭhāne kalahaṁ karonti.
who, whenever one saw the other, quarrelled.

Tesaṁ veribhāvo sakalanagare pākaṭo jāto.
They naturally became enemies in the whole city.

Te neva rājā, na ñātimittā samagge kātuṁ sakkhiṁsu.
Neither the king, nor relatives, were able to reconcile them.

Athekadivasaṁ Satthā, paccūsasamaye bodhaneyyabandhave olokento,
Then one day in the morning the Teacher, while looking round to see who was capable of being released from bondage,

tesaṁ ubhinnam-pi Sotāpattimaggassa upanissayaṁ disvā.
saw these two had the supporting conditions for the Path of Stream-Entry.

Punadivase ekako va Sāvatthiyaṁ piṇḍāya pavisitvā,
And on another day he entered Sāvatthī alone for alms,

tesu ekassa gehadvāre aṭṭhāsi.
and stood at the door of one of their houses.

So nikkhamitvā, pattaṁ gahetvā,
After coming out, taking the bowl,

Satthāraṁ antonivesanaṁ pavesetvā,
leading the Teacher inside the residence,

āsanaṁ paññapetvā nisīdāpesi.
he had him sit down on the prepared seat.

Satthā nisīditvā tassa mettābhāvanāya ānisaṁsaṁ kathetvā,
While sitting there the Teacher taught about the advantages ofdeveloping loving-kindness,

kallacittataṁ ñatvā, saccāni pakāsesi,
and when he knew his mind was ready, he explained the truths,

so saccapariyosāne Sotāpattiphale patiṭṭhahi.
and at the end of the truths he was established in the Fruit of Stream-Entry.

Satthā tassa Sotāpannabhāvaṁ ñatvā,
The Teacher, knowing he had the state of Stream-Entry,

tam-eva pattaṁ gāhāpetvā,
after making him take the bowl,

uṭṭhāya itarassa gehadvāraṁ agamāsi.
rose and went to the door of the other’s house.

So pi nikkhamitvā, Satthāraṁ vanditvā:
After he had come out, he paid respects to the Teacher, saying:

“Pavisatha, bhante,” ti gharaṁ pavesetvā nisīdāpesi.
“Enter, venerable sir,” and after entering he made him sit down.

Itaro pi pattaṁ gahetvā, Satthārā saddhiṁ yeva pāvisi.
The other (minister) also took the bowl, and entered together with the Teacher.

Satthā tassa ekādasa mettānisaṁse vaṇṇetvā,
The Teacher praised the eleven advantages of loving-kindness,

kallacittataṁ ñatvā, saccāni pakāsesi,
and when he knew his mind was ready, he explained the truths,

Saccapariyosāne so pi Sotāpattiphale patiṭṭhahi.
and at the end of the truths he was also established in the Fruit of Stream-Entry.

Iti te ubho pi Sotāpannā hutvā, aññamaññaṁ accayaṁ dassetvā,
These two both having Stream-Entry, confessed their offences to each other,

khamāpetvā, samaggā sammodamānā ekajjhāsayā ahesuṁ.
and after asking forgiveness, and being reconciled and on good terms, their intentions were one and the same.

Taṁ divasañ-ñeva ca Bhagavato sammukhā va ekato bhuñjiṁsu.
That very day face to face with the Fortunate One they ate together.

Satthā bhattakiccaṁ niṭṭhāpetvā vihāraṁ agamāsi.
The Teacher, after he had finshed the meal duties, returned to the monastery.

Te bahūni mālāgandhavilepanāni ceva sappimadhuphāṇitādīni ca ādāya,
Carrying a lot of garlands, incense, creams, and ghee, honey and molasses,

Satthārā saddhiṁ yeva nikkhamiṁsu.
they entered together with the Teacher.

Satthā bhikkhusaṅghena vatte {2.13} dassite,
The Teacher, having explained the duties to the monastic Saṅgha,

Sugatovādaṁ datvā, Gandhakuṭiṁ pāvisi.
and given advice, entered into the Perfumed Hut.

Bhikkhū sāyanhasamaye Dhammasabhāyaṁ,
The next morning, amongst the monastics in the Dhamma Hall,

Satthu guṇakathaṁ samuṭṭhāpesuṁ:
this talk about the Teacher’s virtues arose:

“Āvuso, Satthā adantadamako,
“Friends, the Teacher tames the untamed,

ye nāma dve mahāmatte ciraṁ vāyamamāno pi,
these two ministers were striving for a long time,

neva rājā samagge kātuṁ sakkhi,
but neither was the king able to bring about reconciliation,

na ñātimittādayo sakkhiṁsu,
and nor were their relatives, friends and so on able,

te ekadivaseneva Tathāgatena damitā,” ti.
but in just one day the Realised One tamed them.”

Satthā āgantvā:
After the Teacher came,

“Kāya nuttha, bhikkhave, etarahi kathāya sannisinnā?” ti pucchitvā:
he asked: “And what, monastics, are you discussing while sitting here?”

“Imāya nāmā,” ti vutte.
“Namely, this,” they said.

“Na, bhikkhave, idānevāhaṁ ime dve jane samagge akāsiṁ,
“Now, monastics, I have reconciled whese two people,

pubbe pete mayā samaggā katāyevā,” ti vatvā, atītaṁ āhari.
and before I also reconclied them,” and after saying that, he delivered (a story) about the past.

The Story of the Past

Atīte pana Bārāṇasiyaṁ Brahmadatte rajjaṁ kārente,
In the past, when King Brahmadatta was ruling in Benares,

Bodhisatto, Kāsiraṭṭhe brāhmaṇakule nibbattitvā, vayappatto,
the Bodhisatta, after being reborn in a brahmin family in the Kāsi country, maturing,

Takkasilāyaṁ sabbasippāni uggaṇhitvā,
and learning all the crafts at Taxila,

kāme pahāya, isipabbajjaṁ pabbajitvā,
abandoned sensual pleasures, and went forth in the seer’s going forth,

Himavantapadese Gaṅgātīre assamapadaṁ māpetvā,
built an ashram on the bank of the Gaṅges in the foothills of the Himālayas,

tattha, Abhiññā ca Samāpattiyo ca nibbattetvā,
and there, after the Super Knowledges and Attainments had arisen,

Jhānakīḷaṁ kīḷanto vāsaṁ kappesi.
he dwelt enjoying the joy of the Absorptions.

Imasmiṁ kira Jātake Bodhisatto paramamajjhatto ahosi,
It seems in this Birth the Bodhisatta had supreme impartiality,

Upekkhāpāramiṁ pūresi.
and fulfilled the Perfection of Equanimity.

Tassa paṇṇasāladvāre nisinnassa
As he was sitting at the door to his leaf hut

eko pagabbho dussīlo makkaṭo āgantvā,
one cheeky, immoral, monkey came,

kaṇṇasotesu aṅgajātena salākapavesanakammaṁ karoti.
and tried to insert his male organ into his ears.

Bodhisatto avāretvā, majjhatto hutvā, nisīdati yeva.
The Bodhisatta, without resisting, being impartial, sat right there.

Athekadivasaṁ eko kacchapo, udakā uttaritvā,
Then one day one turtle, after rising out of the water,

gaṅgātīre mukhaṁ vivaritvā, ātapaṁ tappanto niddāyati.
after opening its mouth on the river bank, slept there warming (himself) in the sunshine.

Taṁ disvā so lolavānaro tassa mukhe salākapavesanakammaṁ akāsi.
Having seen that, the agitated monkey inserted his penis into his mouth.

Athassa kacchapo pabujjhitvā,
After the turtle woke up,

aṅgajātaṁ samugge pakkhipanto viya ḍaṁsi, balavavedanā uppajji.
he bit his male organ like (someone) closing a casket, and strong pain arise.

Vedanaṁ adhivāsetuṁ asakkonto:
Unable to bear the pain,

“Ko nu kho maṁ imamhā dukkhā moceyya, kassa santikaṁ gacchāmī,” ti,
(the monkey) said: “I will go into the presence of anyone who can free me from this suffering,”

cintetvā: “Añño maṁ imamhā dukkhā mocetuṁ,
and he thought: “Another cannot free me from this suffering,

samattho natthi, aññatra tāpasena.
none have the skill, except this ascetic.

Tasseva santikaṁ mayā gantuṁ vaṭṭatī,” ti.
It is suitable for me to go into his presence.”

Kacchapaṁ dvīhi hatthehi ukkhipitvā,
Holding the turtle with both hands,

Bodhisattassa santikaṁ agamāsi.
he went into the presence of the Bodhisatta.

Bodhisatto tena dussīlamakkaṭena saddhiṁ davaṁ karonto
The Bodhisatta joking with the immoral monkey

paṭhamaṁ gātham-āha.
spoke the first verse:

1. “Ko {2.360} nu uddhitabhatto va, pūrahattho va brāhmaṇo?
1. “What is that pile of food, like a brahmin with a handful?

Kahaṁ nu bhikkhaṁ acari? Kaṁ saddhaṁ upasaṅkamī.” ti
Where did you go for alms? What funeral did you attend?”

Tattha, ko nu uddhitabhatto vā, ti
Herein, what is that pile of food,

ko nu esa vaḍḍhitabhatto viya, ekaṁ vaḍḍhitabhattaṁ,
what is this, like a mass of food, one mass of food,

bhattapūrapātiṁ hatthehi gahetvā viya, ko nu eso āgacchatī, ti attho.
like one who grabbed with the hand a bowlful of food, who is this coming, is the meaning.

Pūrahattho va brāhmaṇo, ti
Like a brahmin with a handful,

Kattikamāse vācanakaṁ labhitvā pūrahattho brāhmaṇo viya ca,
like a brahmin who received an invitation to a recital This would be a recital of the Vedas, after which the brahmins would receive gifts. in the month of Kattika,

ko nu kho eso ti vānaraṁ sandhāya vadati.
what is this is said in regard to the monkey.

Kahaṁ nu bhikkhaṁ acarī? ti
Where did you go for alms?

Bho vānara, kasmiṁ padese ajja tvaṁ bhikkhaṁ acari?
Dear monkey, in what place today did you go for alms?

Kaṁ saddhaṁ upasaṅkamī? ti
What funeral did you attend?

Kataraṁ nāma pubbapete uddissa kataṁ saddhabhattaṁ,
Which of the many funeral feasts offered for the departed,

kataraṁ vā saddhaṁ puggalaṁ, tvaṁ upasaṅkami?
which of the many funerals for a person, did you attend?

Kuto te ayaṁ deyyadhammo laddho, ti dīpeti.
Where was this gift given to you, is the explanation.

Taṁ sutvā dussīlavānaro dutiyaṁ gātham-āha.
Having heard that, the immoral monkey spoke the second verse:

2. “Ahaṁ kapismi dummedho, anāmāsāni āmasiṁ,
2. “I am a foolish monkey, having touched the untouchable,

Tvaṁ maṁ mocaya, bhaddaṁ te, mutto gaccheyya pabbatan-ti.
If you release me, bless you, free, I will go to the mountain.”

Tattha, ahaṁ kapismi dummedho, ti
Herein, I am a foolish monkey, means

bhaddaṁ te, ahaṁ asmi dummedho capalacitto makkaṭo.
bless you, I am a foolish, fickle-minded, monkey.

Anāmāsāni āmasin-ti anāmasitabbaṭṭhānāni āmasiṁ.
Having touched the untouchable means having touched that thing which should not be touched.

Tvaṁ maṁ mocaya, bhaddaṁ te, ti
If you release me, bless you, means

tvaṁ dayālu anukampako maṁ imamhā dukkhā mocehi,
if you, having sympathy and compassion, release me from this suffering,

bhaddaṁ te hotu.
bless you.

Mutto gaccheyya pabbatan-ti
Free, I will go to the mountain means

sohaṁ tavānubhāvena imamhā byasanā mutto,
I, through your power, freed from this disaster,

pabbatam-eva gaccheyyaṁ,
will go to the mountain,

na te puna cakkhupathe attānaṁ dasseyyan-ti.
and will never again show myself within range of sight.

Bodhisatto tasmiṁ kāruññena,
Having compassion the Bodhisatta,

kacchapena saddhiṁ sallapanto, tatiyaṁ gātham-āha:
conversing with the turtle, spoke the third verse:

3. “Kacchapā Kassapā honti, Koṇḍaññā honti makkaṭā,
3. “The Kassapas are turtles, and the Koṇḍaññas are monkeys,

Muñca Kassapa Koṇḍaññaṁ, kataṁ methunakaṁ tayā.” ti
Kassapa, free up Koṇḍañña, from having intercourse with you.”

Tassattho {2.361}: kacchapā nāma Kassapagottā honti,
This is the meaning: turtles is a name for the Kassapa clan,

makkaṭā Koṇḍaññagottā,
monkeys are the Koṇḍañña clan,

Kassapakoṇḍaññānañ-ca aññamaññaṁ āvāhavivāhasambandho atthi.
the Kassapas and the Koṇḍaññas are connected through give and take in marraige.

Addhā tayidaṁ lolena dussīlamakkaṭena tayā saddhiṁ,
Surely you, together with this greedy immoral monkey,

tayā ca dussīlena iminā makkaṭena saddhiṁ,
you together with this immoral monkey,

gottasadisatāsaṅkhātassa methunadhammassa anucchavikaṁ,
it is not proper that you have intercourse with someone reckoned as from an equal clan,

dussīlyakammasaṅkhātam-pi methunakaṁ kataṁ,
having intercourse is reckoned as an immoral deed,

tasmā muñca, Kassapa, Koṇḍaññan-ti.
therefore, Kassapa, free up Koṇḍañña.

Kacchapo Bodhisattassa vacanaṁ sutvā,
The turtle, having heard the Bodhisatta’s word,

kāraṇena pasanno, vānarassa aṅgajātaṁ muñci.
pleased with his reasoning, released the monkey’s male organ.

Makkaṭo muttamatto va Bodhisattaṁ vanditvā
The monkey, the moment he was free, paid respects to the Bodhisatta

palāto puna taṁ ṭhānaṁ nivattitvā, pi na olokesi.
and ran away without turning back to that place, nor did he even look back.

Kacchapo pi Bodhisattaṁ vanditvā, sakaṭṭhānam-eva gato.
The turtle paid respects to the Bodhisatta and went to his own place.

Bodhisatto pi aparihīnajjhāno Brahmalokaparāyaṇo ahosi.
The Bodhisatta, without falling away from his meditation, crossed over to the Brahmā Realm.

The Conclusion

Satthā imaṁ Dhammadesanaṁ āharitvā, saccāni pakāsetvā,
The Teacher after delivering the Dhamma teaching, and revealing the truths,

Jātakaṁ samodhānesi:
made the connection of the Jātaka:

“Tadā kacchapavānarā dve mahāmattā ahesuṁ,
“At that time the two ministers were the turtle and the monkey,

tāpaso pana aham-eva ahosin”-ti.
and I was the ascetic.”

Kacchapajātakaṁ, Tatiyā
The Story about (the Biting) Turtle, the Third