Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

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

045 – The Flight of Sakka

Sakka on Flight with his wife Suja (an asura woman)
who accompanies him every where on his travels, Ajanta

Once the Bodhisatta was born as Sakka (Indra), the king of the devas (the radiant beings of heavenly abode). Although he was the king of the devas, nonetheless, he ruled the earth and had acquired splendid glory. The danavas (demons), the sworn enemies of the devas since time immemorial, neither liked Sakka nor his growing glories. So, one day they invaded the celestial empire with a large army to usurp power. Sakka boarding his golden chariot drawn by the thousand horses put a stiff resistance with his army of devas. But the devas almost lost the battle and began to retreat. When Matali, the charioteer of Sakka noticed the flight of the deva army from the battle-field, he, too, turned his chariot back and flew in the air. When the chariot was going high, Sakka noticed some eagle-nests on some tall trees, which were likely to be hit by the chariot. Further, any change in the direction would have meant his captivity in the hands of the demons. So, the compassionate king of the devas, in order to save the young ones of the eagles ordered his charioteer to turn back to fight the demons. So, he gave a mighty battle-cry and brandished his weapon to strike at the tailing enemies. When the demons saw the king of the devas turning about and ready to fight they fled as they thought that the valiant king, true to his chivalrous reputation had resorted to some fresh battle-strategy with some fresh reinforcements.

Soon the devas regained their kingdom; and the young ones of the eagles also survived.

Sakka’s nymphs The two hand-maids of Sakka, Ajanta
As per the mythology Sakka has 25 million hand-maids and 2500 dove-footed pretty nymphs (kakutapadaniyo). [It was the sight of these which tempted Buddha’s step brother Nanda: see Jataka No.93
Sakka descending to help Guttila, the great musician of Varanasi at the
concert Sakka was there poised in the air to help the guru-musician


See Shakra Jataka, Jataka Mala 11. See Jataka No. 243. (See Sakka’s queries on Nibbana Samyutta Nikaya 1.201 & 4.269)