The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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II, 7, 5. THE KACCHAPA-BIRTH trans. by V. Fausböll
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- "He killed himself, verily". This the Master related, while living at Jetavana, in reference to Kokálika. The matter will appear in the Great Takkári-Játaka. At that time the Master, furthermore, said: "O bhikkhus, not only now has Kokálika been killed by his talk, but he was also formerly killed", and having said this he related a tale:
- In times past, while Brahmadatta reigned in Báráṇasí, Bodhisatta having been born in the family of a minister, when grown up became the king's mentor. Now this king was very talkative; when he spoke there was no occasion for others to say anything. Bodhisatta who wishes to do away with this talkativeness of his, walks about reflecting on an expedient.
- And at this time there lives a tortoise in a lake in the Himavanta-region. Two young haṁsas seeking for food, made acquaintance with him. Having become intimate with the tortoise they said to him: "friend tortoise, our dwelling-place is in Himavanta, on the mountain Cittakúṭa, in the cave Kañcana, the region is charming, wilt thou go p. 42 there with us"? "What am I to do, to go there"? "We will take thee and carry thee, if thou art able to hold thy tongue and not say anything to any one". "I will hold my tongue, take me and carry me along with you". Well! said they, let the tortoise take hold of a stick with his teeth, and having themselves each seized one end of it, they rose in the air. The children of the town on seeing him thus borne along by the haṁsas, said: "two haṁsas are carrying a tortoise by means of a stick". The tortoise, being desirous to say: "if my companions carry me along with them, what is that to you, O wicked slaves!" and thus letting go the stick from his mouth at the very time he, on account of the great rapidity of the haṁsas, had arrived above the king's dwelling in the city of Báráṇasí, fell down into the open court and was cut in twain. "A tortoise has fallen down into the open court and is cut in two", was the general cry.
- The king taking Bodhisatta with him went to the place surrounded by his ministers, and seeing the tortoise asked Bodhisatta: "O wise man! how has it come to pass that he p. 43 has fallen down here." Bodhisatta said to himself: "long wishing for an opportunity, and wanting to advise the king, I walk about reflecting on a means, (now I have found it), this tortoise must have become intimate with the haṁsas; in order to carry him away to Himavanta they have let him take hold of a stick with his teeth, and have risen in the air; he then, having heard some one speak, not being able to hold his tongue, but desirous of saying something, must have let go the stick, and has thus fallen down from the air and met with his death;" thinking thus he said: "truly, O great king, too talkative and infinitely prating people will suffer such pain", and pronounced these stanzas:
- 1. "The tortoise, verily, killed himself,
- while raising his voice;
- when holding the stick fast
- he killed himself by his speaking.
- 2. Having seen this, O thou strongest of men!
- speak appropriate, not unseasonable language;
- thou seest that the tortoise met with an accident
- on account of his talkativeness."
- The king knowing him to speak in reference to himself, said: "O wise man, thou speakest about us". Bodhisatta said: "O great king, be it thou or any one else, every one speaking immoderately will meet with such an accident; to p. 44 make this evident I have spoken." The king henceforward desisting (from his bad habit) became a man of few words.
- The Master having given this moral instruction, summed up the Játaka thus: "At that time the tortoise was Kokálika, the two young haṁsas the two great theras, the king Ánanda, but the wise minister I". The Tortoise-Birth.