Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C. B. Varma Introduction | Glossary | Bibliography

012 – The Mighty Fish

The mighty fish, Bharhut

Once in the Jetavana, near Savatthi there was a pond where grew myriad climbing plants. And there lived a mighty fish, virtuous, pious and herbivorous. Now there was a drought in the land. Crops withered; water dried and the fishes and tortoises were buried under the mud. All the water creatures became vulnerable and easy prey for the birds and beasts. Seeing the lot of his fellow creatures, who were being devoured by crows and others, his heart filled with compassion. So, one day, parting asunder the black mud he came to the surface fearlessly and opening his ruby-eyes he made a solemn act (Sacchakiriya) of “Perfection of Goodness” – which was supposedly efficacious. He called upon the lord of heaven – Pajjuna to shower and relieve his friends if he was virtuous. Pajjuna soon responded to his call and obeyed him like his disciple by causing heavy rains to fall. This saved and relieved all his companions.

Matsya Jataka Jataka Pali No. 76; cf. Chariya-Pitaka (PTS ed.) p.99..