Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

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

015 – Somadatta

Once a wealthy Brahmin of Varanasi renounced the life of a house-holder and led the life of an ascetic and retired in a forest in the Himalayas. There, he found a baby elephant left alone in the forest. He brought it to his hermitage and took care of him. Soon, he developed attachment for the baby elephant and called him Somadatta out of affection. He also reared him with tender care and fed him fruits and food.

One day, when the ascetic was away the baby elephant ate too much and died. Upon his return the ascetic found him dead. He was overwhelmed with sorrow; and stopped all his activities.

At that time, the Bodhisatta was born as Sakka. Pious and compassionate, he notice the sorrow of the ascetic from heaven and thought of helping him. So, he descended and taught him not to grieve as his grief was due to attachment; as all grief is due to attachment. Further, he reminded him of his vow to renounce the worldly life; and his family. So, he asked him what merit would he partake by leading the life of an ascetic.

Sakka’s teaching reopened his eyes and made him realise his infatuation for the dead animal. The acknowledgement of the infatuation helped him overcome his grief.

(This story was related with reference to a monk, who had ordained a novice; and was aggrieved upon his death. Somadatta is identified with the novice; and the monk with the ascetic).

See Somadatta Jataka Pali No.410.