Munika Jataka

Once on a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta came to life as an ox, named Big Red, on the squire’s estate in a certain hamlet. And he had a younger brother who was known as Little Red. There were only these two brothers to do all the draught work of the family. Also, the squire had an only daughter, whose hand was asked I marriage for his son by a gentleman of the town. And the parents of the girl, with a view to furnishing dainty fare [197] for the wedding guests, began to fatten up a pig named Munika.

Observing this, Little Red said to his brother, “All the loads that have to be drawn for this household are drawn by you and me, my brother; but all they give us for our pains is sorry grass and straw to eat. Yet here is the pig being victualled on rice! What can be the reason why he should be treated to such fare?”

Said his brother, “My dear Little Red, envy him not; for the pig eats the food of death. It is but to furnish a relish for the guests at their daughter’s wedding, that the family are feeding up the pig. Wait but a little time and the guests will be legs, killed, and in process of conversion into curry.” And so saying, he repeated this stanza:-

Then envy not poor Munika; ’tis death

He eats. Contented munch your frugal chaff,

The pledge and guarantee of length of days.

Not long afterwards the guests did arrive; and Munika was killed and cooked into all manner of dishes. Said the Bodhisatta to Little Red,  “Did you see Munika, dear brother?” “ I have indeed seen, brother, the outcome of Munika’s feasting. Better a hundred, nay a thousand, times than such food is ours, though it be but grass, straw, and chaff; for our fare harms us not, and is a pledge that our lives will not be cut short.”


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