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Mora Jātaka (No.159)

The Bodhisatta was once born as a golden peacock and lived on a golden hill in Daṇḍaka. He used to recite one spell in honour of the sun and another in praise of the Buddhas, and thus he was protected from all harm. Khemā, queen of Bārāṇasī, saw in a dream a golden peacock teaching. She longed for the dream to come true and told it to the king. He made enquiries, and sent hunters to catch the golden peacock, but they failed. Khemā died of grief, and the king, in his anger, inscribed on a golden plate that anyone eating the flesh of the golden peacock would be immortal. His successors, seeing the inscription, sent out hunters, but they, too, failed to catch the Bodhisatta.

Six kings in succession failed in this quest. The seventh engaged a hunter who, having watched the Bodhisatta, trained a peahen to cry at the snap of his finger. The hunter laid his snare, went with the peahen and made her cry. Instantly, the golden peacock forgot his spell and was caught in the snare. When he was led before the king and told the reason for his capture, he agreed with the king that his golden colour was owing to good deeds done in the past as king of that very city, and that he was a peacock owing to some sin he had committed. The eating of his flesh could not make anyone young or immortal, seeing that he himself was not immortal. Being asked to prove his words, he had the lake near the city dredged, when the golden chariot in which he used to ride was discovered. The king thereupon paid him great honour and led him back to Daṇḍaka.

The story was told to a backsliding monk who was upset by the sight of a woman magnificently attired.

Ānanda is identified with the king of Bārāṇasī (J.ii.33‑8; the story is alluded to at J.iv.414).

See also Mora Paritta.

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