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Vaṭṭaka Jātaka (No.35, 118, 394)

1. Vaṭṭaka Jātaka (No.35).– The Bodhisatta was once born as a quail, and before he was old enough to fly, fire broke out in the forest wherein his nest was. Seeing no means of escape, he made an Act of Truth (sacca-kiriyā), calling to mind the holiness of the Buddhas and their doctrines. The fire retreated to a distance of sixteen lengths and then extinguished itself. The story was related in reference to a fire which broke out in the jungle when the Buddha was travelling in Magadha with a large company of monks. Some of the monks were frightened and suggested various methods for putting out the fire, while others said they should seek the Buddha’s protection. This they did and the Buddha took them to a certain spot, where he halted. The flames came no nearer than sixteen lengths from where they were standing, and in approaching the spot extinguished themselves. When the monks marvelled at the great power of the Buddha, he told them the story of the past and said that, owing to his Act of Truth as a quail, that spot would never be harmed by flames during the whole of this world-cycle. J.i.212 ff; cp. J.i.172.

See the Vaṭṭa Paritta.

2. Vaṭṭa Jātaka (No.118).– The Bodhisatta was once born as a quail, and was caught by a fowler who sold birds after fattening them. The Bodhisatta, knowing this, starved himself, and when the fowler took him out of the cage to examine his condition the quail flew away and rejoined his companions.

The story was told in reference to a young man of Sāvatthi called Uttaraseṭṭhiputta. He had descended from the Brahma world and had no desire for women. Once, during the Kattikā festival, his friends sent him a gaily decked woman to entice him, but he gave her some money and sent her away. As she came out of his house, a nobleman saw her and took her with him. When she failed to return, her mother complained to the king, and the millionaire’s son (seṭṭhiputta) was told to restore her. On failing to do so, he was taken off for execution. He resolved that if by any means he could escape execution he would become a monk. The girl noticed the crowd following the young man, and on learning the reason she revealed her identity and he was set free. He, thereupon, joined the Order and soon after became an Arahant. J.i.432 ff.

3. Vaṭṭaka Jātaka (No.394).– The Bodhisatta was once a forest quail living on rough grass and seeds. A greedy crow of Bārāṇasī, who was in the forest, saw the quail and thought that the good condition of his body was due to rich food. The quail, seeing the crow, talked to him, and then the crow discovered that the quail had a beautiful body not because he ate rich food, but because he had contentment of mind and freedom from fear.

The story was related in reference to a greedy monk who is identified with the crow. J.iii.312 f.

4. Vaṭṭaka Jātaka.– See also the Sammodamāna Jātaka, which is evidently also referred to as the Vaṭṭaka Jātaka, e.g., J.v.414; DhA.i.46; SNA.ii.358.