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Kuṇāla Jātaka (No.536)

Kuṇāla, king of the Citrakokilā, though well served by his hen birds, always despised them and found fault with them. The king of the Phussakokilas, Puṇṇamukha, on the other hand, always sang the praises of his escort. One day the two kings met, and Puṇṇamukha asked Kuṇāla why he was not more gracious to his ladies. “Because I know too much about women,” was the answer; but Puṇṇamukha was not in a mood to discuss the matter any more.

Later, Puṇṇamukha fell ill, and his hen birds deserted him and came to Kuṇāla. He drove them away, ministered to Puṇṇamukha, and cheered him. Some time after, Kuṇāla, seated on the Manosilātala in Himavā ¹ started to tell his friend of the wickedness of women.² Hearing of this, many inhabitants of numerous worlds came to listen to him, among them Ānanda, king of the vultures, and the ascetic Nārada. Many were the instances given by Kuṇāla to illustrate the deceitfulness, ingratitude, and immorality of women — among them the stories of Kaṇhā, Saccatapāvī, Kākātī, Kuraṅgavī, Piṅgiyānī, Brahmadatta’s mother who sinned with Pañcālacaṇḍa, the queen Kiṇṇarā, Pañcapāpā. Kuṇāla’s diatribe was followed by Ānanda’s, and his by Nārada’s, each claiming to speak from facts within their knowledge. In the stories related by Kuṇāla, the bird-king is identified with one of the characters concerned in each story, so that he was able to speak with authority. Thus he was Ajjuna, one of Kaṇha’s husbands; the goldsmith in the story of Saccatapāvī; the Garuḷa in Kākātī’s tale; Chaḷaṅgakumāra, who misconducted himself with Kuraṅgavī; Pañcālacaṇḍa, lover of Brahmadatta’s mother; the chaplain, also called Pañcālacaṇḍa, who saved Kiṇṇarā from her husband’s wrath; Baka, one time husband of Pañcapāpā; and Brahmadatta, husband of Piṅgiyānī.

The teaching of the Kuṇāla Jātaka was followed by that of the Mahāsamaya Sutta.

This Jātaka was related in order to destroy the discontent that rose in the hearts of the Sakyan youths, kinsmen of the Buddha, who, having entered the Order, were troubled by the thought of the wives they had left behind. The Buddha therefore took them to the Himavā, showed them the magnificent beauty of the region, particularly the miraculous splendours of the Kuṇāladaha, and there taught them. At the end of the Jātaka they all became Arahants. We are told that that very day they became Arahants (J.v.412‑56; also DA.ii.674 ff; AA.i.173).

See also the Cūḷa-Kuṇāla Jātaka.

¹ According to Buddhaghosa, D.ii.675, this was on the banks of the Kuṇāladaha

² Although this story (among many others) may seem very misogynistic by modern standards, one should not miss the context. In every case here where a woman is committing sexual misconduct, a man is also involved, so the same advice with due alteration of details should be given to young nuns about the wickedness of men to discourage them from disrobing (ed.)