Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

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

026 – The Pigeon and The Crow

Lola-Jataka, Bharhut

In ancient India people used to hang up straw baskets in various places to give shelter and comforts to the birds. Thus, the cook of the king’s treasurer, too, hung up one such basket to comfort of the birds. Soon a pigeon found his abode in the basket. In the dawn he would fly outside in search of food and return in the evening.

One day, a crow flying over the kitchen smelt the flavour of the fishes being cooked. He developed a strong longing for the dishes. So, he looked for an opportunity to steel some pieces. Soon he noticed the pigeon returning from his usual course of outing. Then it occurred to him to befriend the pigeon to contrive a way to enjoy some pieces of meat.

With this thought in his mind, he approached the naïve pigeon and began conversation in sweet tongue. The pigeon in turn welcomed his friendship; but at the same time cautioned him not to steel anything from the kitchen.

When the cook saw the two in friendship he uttered, “Well, my bird has brought his friend, I must hang up another basket for him, too.” So, he hung up another basket for the crow.

Next day, the cook dressed several kinds of fishes and began cooking them in a pan. He then kept the lid on the pan and kept a colander on top of it and stepped outside to wipe out the sweat from his brow. Just then the crow stuck out its neck and saw the cook out of the kitchen. Giving in to his temptations he found a good opportunity to scoop at a large piece of meat. But when scooping at his target he dropped the colander with a thudding noise. Alarmed, the cook rushed inside the kitchen and saw the crow attempting to pilfer a piece of fish, which he was cooking for his master. Incensed at the crow’s attempt to steel he shouted, “O rascal! You deserve a lesson”, and he went to the door and shut it properly. Next, he caught the crow and plucked out its feather and daubed it in hot spices and salt all over his body and threw him back in a basket, where he lay groaning in agony.

In the evening when the pigeon returned and saw the crow breathing his last, he said, “Look O crow! As you are head strong and not paid heed to the counsels of a true friend you have to perish surely”.

The wise pigeon then changed his abode could foresee that he, too, may incur the wrath of the cook as being a friend of the crow. So, he in no time flew away in search of a new home.

Next morning, when the cook returned to the kitchen and found the crow dead, he hurled him along with his basket upon a heap of dust and garbage.

See Lola Jataka Jataka Pali No. 274.