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Baka Jātaka (No.38, 236, 405)

1. Baka Jātaka (No.38).– A crane, living near a pond, where the water dried up in summer, offered to carry the fish to a distant pond where water was plentiful. The fish, very suspicious, sent one of their numbers with the crane to verify his words, and when he returned with a favourable report, they accepted the crane’s offer. One by one the fish were carried off and eaten by the crane, until only a crab was left. The wily crab agreed to go too, but he clung round the crane’s neck while being carried along and cut off his head with his pincers when he discovered the crane’s intentions.

The story was told in reference to a monk of Jetavana who was a clever robe maker. He could make robes of rags, which he dyed so skilfully that they looked new and costly. Visiting monks, on seeing them, would exchange their new robes for his old ones and not discover their folly until later. A similar robe maker lived in a hamlet at some distance from Jetavana, who, hearing of the Jetavana monk succeeded in cheating him. The monk was the crane and the hamlet dweller the crab of the story. J.i.220 ff.

2. Baka Jātaka (No.236).– The Bodhisatta was once the leader of a large shoal of fish. A crane, who wished to eat them, stood on the bank of the pond with outstretched wings, gazing vacantly into space. The fish were impressed by his pious demeanour, but were warned against him by the Bodhisatta.

The story was told in reference to a hypocrite who is identified with the crane. J.ii.233 f.

3. Baka Jātaka (No.405) v.l. Bakabrahma Jātaka.– Relates the story of the Buddha’s visit to Baka Brahma (q.v.) and the incidents mentioned regarding Baka’s previous birth as Kesava. J.iii.358 ff.

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