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Sabbadāṭha Jātaka (No.241)

The Bodhisatta was once chaplain to the king of Bārāṇasī and knew a spell called Paṭhavījaya (subduing the world). One day he retired to a lonely place and was reciting the spell. A jackal, hiding in a hole nearby, overheard it and learned it by heart. When the Bodhisatta had finished his recital, the jackal appeared before him, and saying: “Ho, brahmin, I have learnt your spell,” ran away. The Bodhisatta chased him, but in vain. As a result of learning the spell, the jackal subdued all the creatures of the forest and became their king, under the name of Sabbadāṭha. On the back of two elephants stood a lion and on the lion’s back sat Sabbadāṭha, with his consort.

Filled with pride, the jackal wished to capture Bārāṇasī, and went with his army and besieged the city. The king was alarmed, but the Bodhisatta reassured him, and, having learnt from Sabbadāṭha that he proposed to capture the city by making the lions roar, gave orders to the inhabitants to stop their ears with flour. Then he mounted the watch-tower and challenged Sabbadāṭha to carry out his threat. This Sabbadāṭha did, and even the lions on which he rode joined in the roar. The elephants were so terrified that, in their fright, they dropped Sabbadāṭha, who was trampled to death. The carcases of the animals which died in the tumult covered twelve leagues.

The story was related in reference to Devadatta’s attempts to injure the Buddha, which only resulted in working harm upon himself.

The jackal is identified with Devadatta and the king with Ānanda (J.ii.242‑6).

The story is referred to in the Milindapañha (Mil. P. 202), and there the Bodhisatta’s name is given as Vidhura.

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