Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

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

049 – The Box of the Monster

Samugga-Jataka, Bharhut

The monster and the woman, the Thai version

Once the Bodhisatta lived as a hermit in the Himalayan foothills. He lived on the wild fruits and had developed great supernatural powers. Not far from his hut there lived a monster, who was attracted to the teachings of the Bodhisatta and often visited him to listen to his sermons. Yet, the influence of the sage did not transform his basic instinct, and he continued to practise killing men and eating them.

One day, a gorgeous young lady of Kashi was on her way to her parents. When she entered the forest escorted by her armed men, the monster saw them; and attacked them by assuming a terrible form. No sooner than the lady’s men saw the monster they all fled by dropping their weapons and leaving the lady and her carriage behind. Bewitched by the beauty of the maiden the monster thought of marrying her; and not to kill or eat her. So, he brought her to his cave and made her his wife. Since then, he fed her ghee, honey, husked rice, fish and meat and so on and brought her the costliest dress and ornaments. But he did not trust her loyalty. So, to keep her guarded, he placed her in a box, which he swallowed and kept inside his tummy.

One day, he went to a lake to take bath. So, he spat out the box and threw it on the shore. He then took out his woman and anointed her and bathed her in the lake. Then he dressed her in a pretty dress and let her move freely on the shore to enjoy the fresh breath and went to the lake for a dip.

When the monster was off to the lake the woman saw the son of Vayu (Wind), walking through air with a sword tied in his waist. He was a great magician. Attracted to the magician’s personality, she beckoned him for amusement. When the magician came down, she asked him to enter the box quickly and hide there if he wanted to have fun with her. And before the monster could return, she herself slid inside the box and sat on top of him by covering him with her dress.

When the monster returned, he swallowed the box in a routine course and flew to the abode of the hermit to hear his discourse.

The hermit welcomed him and said, “I welcome you three!.” Surprised the monster asked, “Why ‘three’ when I am with my wife only.” The hermit then told him the truth and informed him that the dangerous magician was also sitting inside the box.

Having learnt that the magician was inside his tummy with a sword; and was likely to rip open his belly, he spat out the box instantly and discovered what the hermit had said was true. Luckily, the magician had not fully drawn out his sword by then though he had opened the box. And no sooner than the box was dropped on the ground Vayu Putta, which was the name of the magician, wafted in the air with his sword and dissolved into the air. Had the magician remained a little longer in the belly he would have certainly killed the monster by his sword.

Thus saved by the ascetic’s knowledge the monster bowed before him and thanked him for saving his life.

The Bodhisatta in turn advised him to set the woman free; and tread the path of virtuousity.


See Samugga Jataka Jataka Pali No.436.