Daddara-Jataka. "Who is it with a mighty cry..."
Reading time: 3 minutes. Word count: 600 words.
This is a story which the Master told at Jetavana about one Kokalika.
At this time we hear that there were a number of very learned Brethren in the district of Manosila, who spoke out like young lions, loud enough to bring down the heavenly Ganges, while reciting passages of scripture before the Community.
As they recited their texts, Kokalika (not knowing what an empty fool he showed himself) thought he would like to do the same. So he went about among the Brethren, not however taking the Name upon him, but saying, "They don't ask me to recite a piece of scripture. If they were to ask me, I would do it."
All the Community got to know of it; and they thought they would try him. "Friend Kokalika," said they, "give the Community a recital of some scriptures today." To this he agreed, not knowing his folly; that day he would recite before the Community.
He first partook of gruel made to his liking, ate some food, and had some of his favorite soup. At sundown the gong sounded for sermon time; all the community gathered together. The robe which he put on was blue as a bluebell; his outer robe was pure white. Thus clad, he entered the meeting, greeted the Elders, stepped up to a Preaching Seat under a grand jeweled pavilion, holding an elegantly carved fan, and sat down, ready to begin his recitation.
But just at that moment beads of sweat began to start out all over him, and he felt ashamed. The first verse of the first stanza he repeated; but what came next he could not think. So rising from the seat in confusion, he passed out through the meeting, and sought his own cell. Someone else, a real scholar, recited the Scripture.
After that all the Brethren knew how empty he was. One day the Brethren fell a talking of it in the Hall of Truth: "Friend, it was not easy to see formerly how empty Kokalika is; but now he has given tongue of his own accord, and shown it."
The Master entered, and asked what they were discussing together. They told him.
He said, "Brethren, this is not the first time Kokalika has betrayed himself by his voice; the very same thing happened before;" and then he told them an old-world tale.
Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as a young Lion, and was the king of many lions. With a suite of lions he dwelt in Silver Cave. Nearby was a Jackal, living in another cave.
One day, after a shower of rain, all the Lions were together at the entrance of their leader's cave, roaring loudly and gamboling about as lions do. As they were thus roaring and playing, the Jackal too lifted up his voice.
"Here's this Jackal, giving tongue along with us!" said the Lions; they felt ashamed, and were silent.
When they all fell silent, the Bodhisatta's cub asked him this question. "Father, all these Lions that were roaring and playing about have fallen silent for very shame on hearing yon creature. What creature is it that betrays itself thus by its voice?" and he repeated the first stanza:
Who is it with a mighty cry makes Daddara resound?
Who is it, Lord of Beasts? and why has he no welcome found?
At his son's words the old Lion repeated the second stanza:
The Jackal, of all beasts most vile, 'tis he that makes that sound:
The Lions loathe his baseness, while they sit in silence round.
"Brethren," the Master added, "'tis not the first time Kokalika has betrayed himself by his voice; it was just the same before;" and bringing his discourse to an end, he identified the Birth: "At that time Kokalika was the Jackal, Rahula was the young lion, and I was myself the Lion king."
Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:
Source: Jataka #172. The Jataka, or Stories of the Buddha's Former Births (in six volumes). Editor: E.B. Cowell. 1895.
MLLL-2003. World Literature: Frametales. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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