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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Ass in the Lion’s Skin
By Vishnu Sharma (Pilpay) (c. 1000 B.C.?)
 
From the ‘Jataka’: Translation of Henry Clarke Warren, in his ‘Buddhism in Translations,’ Vol. iii. of the Harvard Oriental Series

“NAY, this is not a lion’s roar.”—This also was related by the Teacher concerning Kokalika; and it was while dwelling in Jetavana monastery. Kokalika, at the time, was desirous of intoning a doctrinal recitation before the congregation of the priests. When the Teacher heard this, he related the following tale:—  1
 
  ONCE upon a time, when Brahmadatta was reigning at Benares, the Future Buddha, having been born in a farmer’s family and now come of age, was making his living by husbandry. Now at that time a certain peddler went about selling his wares, which he carried on the back of an ass. And at every place he came to he would unload the ass, and dressing him up in the skin of a lion, let him loose in some field of rice or barley. And the field-watchers did not dare approach, as they thought it was a lion. Now one day the peddler took up his abode at the gate of a village, and while his breakfast was cooking, he dressed up the ass in the lion’s skin and let him loose in a field of barley. The field-watchers did not dare approach, as they thought it was a lion, but went home and announced the news. Then all the inhabitants of the village took up arms, and, blowing conch-shells and beating drums, went to the field and shouted, so that the ass became afraid for his life and brayed. Then the Future Buddha knew it was an ass, and pronounced the first stanza:—
  “Nay, this is not a lion’s roar,
Nor tiger, panther, gives it vent;
But, dressed up in a lion’s skin,
It is a wretched ass that brays.”
  2
  And also the inhabitants of the village knew it was an ass, and beat him until his bones broke, and took the lion’s skin away with them. Then came the peddler, and seeing that his ass had come to grief, he pronounced the second stanza:—
  “Long might the ass have lived to eat
The green and tender barley grain,
Accoutred in the lion’s skin,
But that he brayed, and ruined all.”
  3
  And while he was thus speaking, the ass died; whereupon the peddler left him and went his way.  4
 
  The Teacher, having given this doctrinal instruction, identified the characters in the Birth-story:—“At that time the ass was Kokalika, but the wise farmer was I myself.”  5
 
 
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