Week 2: Jataka Tales (Birth Stories of the Buddha)

Assignments - Reading - Resources - Image Gallery

Kandina-Jataka. "Cursed be the dart of love..."

Reading time: 3 minutes. Word count: 600 words.

In this story, there is a strong connection between the "hot love" that the monk is feeling in the frametale, and the hot fire which is involved in the story of the past!

This story was told by the Master while at Jetavana about the temptation caused to Brethren by the wives of their mundane life.

Said the Blessed One to the Brother, "Brother, it was because of this very woman that in bygone days you met your death and were roasted over glowing embers."

The Brethren asked the Blessed One to explain this. The Blessed One made clear what had been concealed from them by rebirth.

Once on a time in the kingdom of Magadha the king was reigning in Rajagaha, and when the crops were grown the deer were exposed to great perils, so that they retired to the forest.

Now a certain mountain-stag of the forest, having become attached to a doe who came from near a village, was moved by his love for her to accompany her when the deer returned home from the forest.

Said she, "You, sir, are but a simple stag of the forest, and the neighbourhood of the villages is beset with peril and danger. So don’t come down with us."

But he, because of his great love for her, would not stay, but came with her.

When they knew that it was the time for the deer to come down from the hills, the Magadha folk posted themselves in ambush by the road; and a hunter was lying in wait just by the road along which the pair were traveling.

Scenting a man, the young doe suspected that a hunger was in ambush, and let the stag go on first, following herself at some distance. With a single arrow the hunter laid the stag low, and the doe seeing him struck was off like the wind.

Then that hunter came forth from his hiding-place and skinned the stag and lighting a fire cooked the sweet flesh over the embers. Having eaten and drunk, he took off home the remainder of the bleeding carcass on his carrying-pole to regale his children.

Now in those days the Bodhisatta was a Fairy dwelling in that very grove of trees, and he marked what had come to pass. "’Twas not father or mother, but passion alone that destroyed this foolish deer. The dawn of passion is bliss, but its end is sorrow and suffering, - the painful loss of hands, and the misery of the five forms of bonds and blows. To cause another’s death is accounted infamy in this world; infamous too is the land which owns a woman’s sway and rule; and infamous are the men who yield themselves to women’s dominion."

And therewithal, while the other fairies of the wood applauded and offered perfumes and flowers and the like in homage, the Bodhisatta wove the three infamies into a single stanza, and made the wood re-echo with his sweet tones as he taught the truth in these lines: -

Cursed be the dart of love that works men pain!
Cursed be the land where women rule supreme!
And cursed the fool that bows to woman’s sway!

Thus in a single stanza were the three infamies comprised by the Bodhisatta, and the woods re-echoed as he taught the Truth with all the mastery and grace of a Buddha.

His lesson ended, the Master preached the Four Truths, at the close whereof the love-sick Brother was established in the Fruit of the First Path.

Having told the story, the Master showed the connexion linking the two together, and identified the birth. "In those days," said the Master, "the love-sick Brother was the young doe, and I was myself the Fairy who preached the Truth showing the sin of passion."

Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • how did the stag feel about the doe? what advice did the doe give to the stag?
  • how was the stag killed?
  • what did the Buddha conclude was the moral of this story?

Source: Jataka #13. The Jataka, or Stories of the Buddha's Former Births (in six volumes). Editor: E.B. Cowell. 1895.

Modern Languages MLLL-2003. World Literature: Frametales. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:48 PM