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Indriya Jātaka (No.423)

Once an ascetic named Nārada, younger brother of Asita Devala (Kāḷadevala), became a disciple of the Bodhisatta Jotipāla (also called in the story Sarabhaṅga), and lived in the mountainous country of Arañjara. Near Nārada’s hermitage was a river, on the banks of which courtesans used to sit, tempting men. Nārada saw one of these courtesans, and becoming enamoured of her, forsook his meditations and pined away for lack of food. Kāḷadevala, being aware of this, tried to wean him from his desires. Nārada, however, refused to be comforted, even when his colleagues, Sālissara, Mendissara and Pabbatissara admonished him. In the end Sarabhaṅga himself was summoned and Nārada, having listened to the words of his Master, was persuaded to give up his passion.

The story was told in reference to a backsliding monk. He went about for alms with his teachers and instructors but, being their junior, he received very little attention. Dissatisfied with his food and treatment, he sought his wife of former days. She provided him with every comfort and gradually tempted him with the desire to become a householder again. When the monk’s fellow-celibates discovered his wish, they took him to the Buddha who taught him this Jātaka, showing that in a past life, too, he had been sorely tempted by the same woman. Nārada was identified with the backsliding monk and the courtesan with the wife of his lay-days (J.iii.461‑9).

The Buddha is stated on this occasion to have taught also the Kaṇḍina Jātaka (J.i.153 ff), the Rādha Jātaka (J.i.495 ff), the Ruhaka Jātaka (J.ii.113 ff), the Kaṇavera Jātaka (J.iii.58 ff), the Āsaṅka Jātaka (J.iii.248 ff) and the Alambusā Jātaka (J.v.152 ff).

The Indriya Jātaka is also referred to in the Kāmavilāpa Jātaka (J.ii.443 ff), but the connection between the two stories is not clear; perhaps the reference is to another story of the same name.

See also the Sarabhaṅga Jātaka.

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