The Bodhisatta was once born as Brahmadatta, king of Bārāṇasī. He had a gardener named Sañjaya. An antelope (vātamiga)¹ used to visit the royal park, and the king asked Sañjaya to catch it. Sañjaya put honey on the grass where the animal fed, and, in due course, the animal came to eat out of his hand. He was thus able to entice it right into the palace, where he shut the door on it. The king marvelled that an antelope, who was so shy that if it once saw a man it would not visit the same place for a week after, should allow itself to be caught by greed.
The story was related in reference to Cūḷapiṇḍapātika Tissa (q.v.), who was enticed back to the lay life by a slave girl. Sañjaya is identified with the slave and the antelope with the monk.²
According to the Dhammapada Commentary,³ however, it was with reference to Sundarasamudda Thera that the story was told.
¹ lit. a “Wind deer.” Presumably a swift and very timid deer (ed.)
² J.i.156 ﬀ. ³ DhA.iv.199.