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Story of The King, Who knew the Language of Animals
The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C.B. Varma
|068 - The King, Who Knew The Language Of Animals|
Once a king saw some young boys pelting stones on a Naga serpent. He prevented the boys from killing the snake. Thus, he saved its life. The snake, which was the king of the Naga-World, thanked him and favoured him with a supernatural gift by which he could understand the language of any animal. But he warned him that the divulgence of the secret would cost him his life.
day, when the king was sitting in his garden and enjoying the breakfast, a
small portion of the sweet fell on the ground. Soon he heard an ant
shouting, “My God, what a
big wagon-ful of sweet has fallen; and there is none to consume it. Ah! I
can enjoy all, now.” Hearing this the king smiled and chuckled. The
queen, who was sitting next to him, was curious to note the changing
countenance of the king. She asked him to tell her the reason for the
smile. But the king kept silent; as the divulgence of the secret would
cost him his life. The queen
felt offended and thought that there was something wrong about her look,
which the king did not want to tell in public.
night, when the king was taking rest in his bed-chamber, the queen
repeated the same question and demanded the answer. The king then told her
that the divulgence of that secret would cost him his life. Nonetheless,
the queen persisted by winging and throwing tantrums. Still when the king
kept silence, she attacked his self-respect by calling him a “liar”
and muttered that all his expressions of endearment like -“Darling, you
are dearer to me than my very life” - were nothing but a pack of lies.
The king, however, could not bear the attacks on his self-respect and
eventually conceded to divulge the secret on the following day in the
royal garden; and made up his mind to sacrifice his life.
queen begging forgiveness, Ajanta
the lord of the heaven, overheard the king’s resolve and decided to save
him, because the king was righteous. So, he picked up one of his nymphets
from the heaven and descended on the earth to save the King.
day, when the king and his retinues were on the way to the royal park,
Sakka in the form of a donkey, and the nymphet in the form of a goat,
stood conversing on one side of the path. The king overheard the goat
saying to the donkey, “You are a fool but not as big a fool as is the
king.” Having heard so, the king was curious to know as to why was he
being called a “bigger fool”. So, he asked the goat “Why do you
think that I am a bigger fool than a donkey?”
goat replied, “look O king! Today you are going to die to please your
wife; but tomorrow when your wife inherits all your wealth to enjoy it
with a new mate would she ever think of you?”
statement of the goat opened the eyes of the king and he realised his
folly. He was then considered to rescind his decision to die to please his
queen. He wanted to come out of the mess and not to sacrifice his precious
life. So, he said to the goat “Pray, then tell me to break the impasse
as I am now committed to tell her the charm”.
goat said, “If you want to
come out of the mess then go and tell her that you are ready to reveal her
the secret on the condition that she agrees to receive one hundred lashes
on her back”.
the king reached the garden, he said to the queen, “O my darling! I am
now ready to tell you the secret on the condition that you be ready to
receive one hundred lashes in return”.
queen considered the condition a joke and nodded in agreement.
king then waived at one of his guards to lash her with all his power. And
no sooner than she received two lashes she wailed and shouted “No! No!
For God’s sake do not lash me! I don’t want to know the secret, now”.
king then said scornfully, “ You wanted to know the secret at the cost
of my life; but now you don’t want to know because you have to save your
skin. You deserve a few more lashes.” But before he could order his man
to give her a few more lashes, the king’s trustworthy minister
intervened and requested him to forgive her.
the queen was not lashed further, yet she never received the same honour
(Sakka is identified with the Bodhisatta in the above tale).
See Kharaputta Jataka Jataka Pali No.386
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