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The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C.B. Varma


027 -  The Story of Romaka Pigeon

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Once the Bodhisatta was born as the king of the pigeons in a cave of the hills. His name was Romaka. Close to those hills there lived an ascetic. Romaka visited him time to time to listen to his sermons. But one day, the ascetic left his hut and went to some other place. By and by, a spurious hermit came to live in the same hut.

One day, the villagers served some sumptuous spicy dish to the false ascetic, who in turn relished it much. Having learnt that it was the pigeon’s meat, he developed a strong yearning to eat more of the pigeons’ meat. He then recalled that several pigeons lived close by in the hills, and often visited his hut. So, he planned to kill and cook them.

Next day, he made all preparations to cook the pigeons’ meat. He went outside and brought some rice and ghee, spices, salt and pepper to cook the pigeons’ flesh. He then concealed a staff inside his robe and waited at the hut-door for the pigeons. Luckily, that day, the pigeons flew close to the hut under the leadership of Romaka, who before landing ensured the safety of the site. There, he smelt the spicy odour inside the hut and was alarmed. So, he ordered his followers to keep flying and not to descend there. 

When the spurious ascetic noted that the pigeons were flying away, he coaxed them in sweet words. Romaka then expressed his distrust in response. When the false ascetic learnt that his plot to kill them was no longer a secret, he angrily hurled the staff upon the pigeon king, which, however, missed him. So, he muttered “Oh! I missed you!”

Hearing so, Romaka shouted back, “Yes, you missed us, but you will not miss the purgatories where you will suffer for ages. Further, if you stay here, in the place of a hermit any longer, I shall reveal your real identity to the villagers, who in turn shall punish you.”

Frightened with the threat, the spurious ascetic left the hermitage for some unknown place.

See Romaka Jataka Jataka Pali No.277.

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