The king of Bārāṇasī had a son called Duṭṭhakumāra, who was hated by everyone. One day, when he was bathing in the river, a storm came on, and he ordered his servants to take him into the middle of the river and there bathe him. The servants thereupon flung him into the water and reported to the king that he was lost. As he was swept along on the stream, he caught hold of a tree trunk, and on to this tree trunk there came to cling, also, a snake, a rat, and a parrot, who had all lost their dwelling places in the storm. The Bodhisatta, who was an ascetic living on the bank of the river, rescued Duṭṭha and his companions and looked after them. When they bade him farewell, the snake said that he had four hundred million hidden in a certain spot, and the ascetic had only to ask for these and they were his. The rat had three hundred million, also at the ascetic’s disposal; the parrot promised the ascetic wagon-
After Duṭṭha became king, the ascetic wished to test the faith of his former guests. He went to the snake and called out his name, and the snake at once appeared, offering his treasure. The rat and the parrot did likewise, but Duṭṭha, riding in a procession and seeing him from afar, gave orders that the ascetic should be beaten and put to death. On his way to the place of execution the ascetic kept on repeating: “They knew the world who framed this proverb true: a log pays better salvage than some men!” When asked what these words meant, he related the whole story.
The enraged citizens, seizing Duṭṭha, put him to death and made the ascetic king. Later, he brought the snake, the rat, and the parrot to the palace and looked after them.
The story was told in reference to Devadatta’s attempts to kill the Buddha. Devadatta is identified with Duṭṭha, the snake with Sāriputta, the rat with Mahā-