Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

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

014 – Lion and Jackal

The lion in the forest

Once there lived a mighty lion in a cave of the Himalayas. One day, after killing and eating a buffalo, when he was on his way back to his cave, he found a jackal prostrating before him. The jackal, in fact, wanted to enjoy the left overs of the lion.

He asked him, “why do you lie like this, Jackal”.

The jackal said, “Sir! I would like to be your servant”. The lion accepted his proposal and treated him affectionately.

Since that day the lion offered him the left-overs of the animals, who he killed. Being fed on those the emaciated jackal soon bulged; and so did his pride. Further, he fostered the false idea of having equal power like that of the lion. So, one day, he said to the lion, “O lion! so far I am fed on your left-overs; but today, I shall offer you my left over as I shall kill and eat an elephant”.

The lion advised him to refrain from any such act, as he did not belong to the species of lion-like animal to kill a strong elephant.

The haughty and foolish jackal did not listen to the lion. Feigning like a lion he moved out of the cave and uttered the cry of a jackal thrice, as if it was the cry of a mighty lion. He then looked for an elephant; and saw one at the base of the mountain. He jumped at the large animal from the top of the mountain. But instead of falling on elephant’s back he fell on his feet. The elephant without paying much notice to the existence of the jackal lifted his fore-leg and placed it on his head and mashed his skull. Thus the foolish jackal was killed instantly.

The lion is walking away after eating his full and leaving the carcass for the jackal

The lion witnessed the entire show from the top of the precipice and said,

A reckless and haughty being
Is thus bound to meet his doom

[Jackal is identified with Devadatta; and the lion with the Bodhisatta].

See Virochana Jataka Jataka Pali No. 143.