Ja 277 The Story about the Feathered One

In the present Devadatta goes about trying to kill the Buddha, who tells a story of a previous birth in which a sham ascetic took a liking to pigeon’s flesh and tried to kill the pigeons who would visit him hoping to hear some wisdom.

1. Vassāni paññāsa samādhikāni,
Vasimha selassa guhāya, romaka,
Asaṅkamānā abhinibbutattā,
Hatthattam-āyanti mamaṇḍajā pure.

In excess of fifty years I lived in a cave on the mountain rock, feathered one, being without doubt, completely serene, formerly the birds would come to my hand.

2. Tedāni vakkaṅga kim-attham-ussukā
Bhajanti aññaṁ girikandaraṁ dijā?
Na nūna maññanti mamaṁ yathā pure,
Cirappavutthā atha vā na te ime ti?

Now, bird, agitated, why did those birds resort to another mountain grotto? Not considering me as before, or, are these not those who lived here a long time?

In this connection, in excess of means in excess of equal. Sama means the same or equal, and adhika means in excess of.

Feathered one means with hair uprising, with well-washed coral-coloured eyes and feet, he addresses the pigeon, the Bodhisatta.

Being without doubt, so for more than fifty years amongst us dwelling in this mountain cave these birds did not have doubt about me even for one day, their minds being completely serene, formerly they came to my hand, to my open, stretched-out hand, this is the meaning.

Now … those means now those. Showing how to analyse the sandhi.

Bird, he calls on the Bodhisatta, all birds when rising up crook their necks, from rising up vakkaṅga crooked-limb, or bird is said. In Ja 36 Sakuṇajātaka this definition was given: sometimes their heads sit crooked on their necks, therefore vakkaṅga (crooked limb) is said. Birds are born crooked in both their wings, so vakkaṅga is said.

Why did means seeing what reason.

Agitated means being fretful.

Mountain grotto means from this mountain to another mountain grotto.

As before means as before these birds paid me respects, considered me dear, but now they do not consider me so, the ascetic who lived here formerly was another one, and this is another one, thinking thus, they do not have consideration for me, this is the explanation.

Are these not those who lived here a long time? Why do these who were absent for a long time, after the passing of a long time, come here without recognising me, thinking: “This is him,” or, those who, having serene minds amongst us, are they not those, but other, visiting birds, why do these not approach me, this is what he asks.

3. Jānāma taṁ na mayaṁ sampamūḷhā,
So yeva tvaṁ te mayam-asma nāññe,
Cittañ-ca te asmiṁ jane paduṭṭhaṁ,
Ājīvikā tena tam-uttasāmā ti.

We do know you, we are not deluded, we know he’s not you, and we are not them, your mind is corrupted against our folk, that’s why we are afraid, Ājīvika. The Ājīvakas were an ascetic sect who preceded the Jainas and emphasised right livelihood (ājīvika).

In this connection, we are not deluded, we are not deluded or heedless.

Your mind is corrupted against our folk, we do recognise that he is surely not you, and we are surely not them, but moreover, your mind is corrupted against our folk, and has risen to kill us.

Ājīvika means for the sake of livelihood, one gone-forth, a corrupt ascetic. All of these are vocative forms.

That’s why we are afraid, for that reasoning we are afraid, scared of you, and do not approach.