Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

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

021 – Coronation of Owl

Uluka-Jataka, Mathura

The hostility of an owl and a crow is well known down the ages. What is, however, not known is the traditional animosity of an owl for a crow. Once, when the Buddha was dwelling in the Jetavana in Savatthi he was reported the killings of several crows by an owl. In this context, the Buddha narrated the origin of the animosity between the two species.

During the first cycle of the creation of the world men assembled and chose a handsome, gracious, commanding and a perfect man as the king for themselves. The animals, too, gathered and chose lion as their king. The fishes too chose a large fish named Ananda as their king. Then all the birds, too, gathered to choose their king.

In course of their search, they voted for the owl. Twice they proclaimed, “Here is the bird, who we like”. But when the same announcement was repeated for the third time, the crow made a strong protest against the proclamation. He cried, “Why should an angry-looking owl be made a king, when there are younger and wiser birds around. The owl even without looking angrily pops others like the sesamum seeds when thrown on a hot pot. So, what would happen to us when he be really angry?” Cawing these words the crow flew away and the owl chased him in anger. Since then, the two are at the loggers head.

The birds then crowned a goose as their king, who was none other than the Bodhisatta.

Uluka Jataka Jataka Pali No. 270