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Story of the Feast of the Dead
The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C.B. Varma
|022 - The Feast of the Dead|
Once a brahmin priest
decided to sacrifice a goat on the occasion of the Feast of the Dead. So,
he had a goat fetched and asked his pupils to bathe it in the river. When
being bathed the goat first burst out into laughter but soon began to cry.
When the surprised
pupils asked the goat to explain the reason for such behaviour, it
promised to oblige them only in presence of the priest. So, the pupils
brought the goat before the priest and asked the same question. The goat
then narrated the story of its previous birth when it, too, was a brahmin
priest and had sacrificed a goat on a similar occasion. As a result of
that it had had his head cut off four hundred and ninety-nine times; and
the present sacrifice would be its last one. So, it laughed at the
prospect of redemption from
the guilt. Further, explaining the reason for its cry it said that the
brahmin would be doomed for five hundred times in similar way. So, it
cried for him out of sheer compassion.
The priest said, “fear not O compassionate goat! I spare your life”.
The goat said, “Sir! You may spare me; but the evil deed of my past life shall not spare me. My head shall be chopped off, today.”
“We shall protect you from being killed”, said the priest.
“No Sir! Weak is
your protection; and strong is the force of my evil karma.
My head has to be chopped off, today”, said the goat.
The priest then let
the goat go loose under surveillance. Soon the goat reached out its neck
to browse the leaves of a bush. Just then a thunder-bolt struck the rock
above the bush; and its fragment hit the neck of the goat, which tore its
Mataka-Bhatta Jataka Pali Jataka No.18.
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