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Nigrodhamiga Jātaka (No.12)

Also called the Nigrodha Jātaka. Once the Bodhisatta was born as king of the deer and was called Nigrodha. With him was the leader of another herd, and he was called Sākha. There was an agreement between these two leaders that, on alternate days, a deer from their herd should offer itself to be killed by the king of Bārāṇasī. One day the turn fell on a pregnant doe of Sākha’s herd, and when she asked to be allowed to wait until she had brought forth her young she was refused by Sākha. She then appealed to Nigrodha, who took her turn on himself. Immunity had been granted to Nigrodha, and when his act was reported to the king, he came in person to enquire into the matter. On hearing the story, he was greatly moved, and promised immunity both to Nigrodha and the doe. However, Nigrodha was not satisfied until the king promised immunity to all living beings. Later, on discovering that the deer, taking advantage of this, were destroying men’s crops, Nigrodha, gave orders to his herd to refrain from doing so.

The story was related in reference to the mother of Kumāra-Kassapa (q.v.) She had joined the Order under Devadatta not knowing that she was pregnant. On discovering her condition, Devadatta expelled her from the Order. She appealed to the Buddha, who caused an enquiry to be held, and, having been assured of her innocence, he restored her to all honour. When Kumāra Kassapa was born he, too, was admitted to the Order.

Devadatta is identified with Sākha, Kumāra-Kassapa with the doe’s young one, his mother with the doe, and the king with Ānanda.

J.i.145 ff; DhA.iii.148 f. The story is figured in the Bharhut Stupa (Cunningham: pl. xxv. (1) and xliii. (2). It is given in Mtu. (i.359 ff.) with several variations in detail.

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