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Kacchapa Jātaka (No.178, 215, 273)

1. Kacchapa Jātaka (No.178).– The story of a turtle who would not leave the lake where he lived even though all the other turtles, knowing there would be a drought, swam in time to the neighbouring river. When the drought came, he buried himself in a hole. There he was dug up by the Bodhisatta who was digging for clay, having been born as a potter. The turtle’s shell was cracked by the potter’s spade and he died, having uttered two verses on the folly of clinging too much to things. The Bodhisatta took his body to the village and taught the villagers.

The story was told to a young man of Sāvatthi who, when the plague broke out in his house, listened to his parents’ advice and escaped through a hole in the wall. When the danger was past he returned and rescued the treasure hoarded in the house and, one day, visited the Buddha with many gifts.

Ānanda is identified with the turtle of the story. J.ii.79‑81.

2. Kacchapa Jātaka (No.215).– The story of a turtle who became friendly with two geese living in the Cittakūṭa mountain. One day the geese invited the turtle to their abode, and when he agreed they made him hold a stick between his teeth, and seizing the two ends flew away with him. The children of the village, seeing them, started shouting, and the turtle, being of a talkative nature, opened his mouth to reprimand them and fell near the palace of the king of Bārāṇasī, crushing himself to death. The Bodhisatta, who was the king’s minister, seized the opportunity for admonishing his master, who was an inveterate talker, on the virtues of silence.

The turtle is identified with Kokālika, in reference to whom the story was related (J.ii.175‑8; repeated also in DhA.iv.91 f). For details see the Takkāriya Jātaka.

3. Kacchapa Jātaka (No.273).– The story of how a monkey insulted a turtle by introducing his private parts into the turtle as the latter lay basking in the sun with his mouth open. The turtle caught hold of the monkey and refused to release him. The monkey went for help, and the Bodhisatta, who was an ascetic in a hermitage nearby, saw the monkey carrying the turtle. The Bodhisatta persuaded the turtle to release the monkey.

The story was related in reference to the quarrelsome ministers of the king of Kosala. J.ii.359‑61.

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