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Mahāvāṇija Jātaka (No.493)

A company of merchants once went astray in the forest without food or water, and, seeing a huge banyan-tree with moist branches, they out off a branch and water poured out, from another branch came food, from another a company of girls, and from the fourth various precious things. Overcome by greed, they wished to cut the tree from its roots in order to get more. Their leader, the Bodhisatta, tried to prevent this, but they refused to listen. Then the Nāga king who lived in the tree, ordered his followers to slay all the merchants except the leader. Him the Nāgā escorted to his home with all the treasures.

The story was told in reference to a company of merchants from Sāvatthi, followers of the Buddha, who had a similar experience. However, having moderate desires, they made no attempt to cut down the tree. Then they returned to Sāvatthi, and, offering some of the precious things to the Buddha, made over the merit thereof to the deity of the tree. The Buddha praised them for their moderation. Sāriputta is identified with the Nāga king. J.iv.350 ff.

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