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Story of Somadatta
The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C.B. Varma
|015 - Somadatta|
Once a wealthy Brahmin of
Varanasi renounced the life of a house-holder and led the life of an
ascetic and retired in a forest in the Himalayas. There, he found a baby
elephant left alone in the forest. He brought it to his hermitage and took
care of him. Soon, he developed attachment for the baby elephant and
called him Somadatta out of affection. He also reared him with tender care
and fed him fruits and food.
One day, when the ascetic was
away the baby elephant ate too much and died. Upon his return the ascetic
found him dead. He was overwhelmed with sorrow; and stopped all his
At that time, the Bodhisatta
was born as Sakka. Pious and compassionate, he notice the sorrow of the
ascetic from heaven and thought of helping him. So, he descended and
taught him not to grieve as his grief was due to attachment; as all grief
is due to attachment. Further, he reminded him of his vow to renounce the
worldly life; and his family. So, he asked him what merit would he partake by leading
the life of an ascetic.
Sakka’s teaching reopened his
eyes and made him realise his infatuation for the dead animal. The
acknowledgement of the infatuation helped him overcome his grief.
(This story was related with reference to a monk, who had ordained a novice; and was aggrieved upon his death. Somadatta is identified with the novice; and the monk with the ascetic).
See Somadatta Jataka Pali No.410.
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