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Macchuddāna Jātaka (No.288)

The Bodhisatta was once the son of a landed proprietor, and, after his father’s death, he and his younger brother went to a village to settle some business. On their way back, they had a meal out of a leaf bottle, and, when they had finished, the Bodhisatta threw the remains into the river for the fish, giving the merit to the river spirit. The power of the river spirit increased and she discovered the cause. The younger brother was of a dishonest disposition, and when the elder was asleep, he packed a parcel of gravel to resemble the money they were carrying and put them both away. While they were in mid-river he stumbled against the side of the boat and dropped overboard what he thought to be the parcel of gravel, but what was really the money. He told the Bodhisatta about it who said, “Never mind, what’s gone has gone.” However, the river spirit out of gratitude to the Bodhisatta made a fish swallow the parcel. The fish was later caught and hawked about, and, owing again to the influence of the spirit, the fisherman asked one thousand pieces and seven pence for it, and the people laughed at what they thought was a joke. However, when they came to the Bodhisatta’s house, they offered him the fish for seven pence. The fish was bought and cut open by his wife, and the money was given to him. At that instant the river spirit informed him of what she had done and asked him to have no consideration for his brother, who was a thief and was greatly disappointed at the failure of his trick. However, the Bodhisatta sent him five hundred pieces.

The story was told in reference to a dishonest merchant who is identified with the cheat. J.ii.423‑6.

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