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The Dart of Love.

The Dart of Love.

Long ago a king of Magadha was reigning in Rājagaha, in the country of Magadha. At the season of harvest the deer suffered much at the hands of the people of Magadha. So they were wont to go away to the forest at the foot of the mountains.

Now a certain mountain stag, who lived in that jungle, made friends with a roe from the inhabited country. And when those deer came down from the mountain-side to return home, he, being caught in the snares of love, went down with them.

Then she said to him, “You, Sir, are but a simple deer of the mountains, and the inhabited country is beset with danger and difficulty. Pray don’t go down with us!”

But he, being fallen deep into love for her, would not turn back, and went along with her.

Now when the people of Magadha saw that the time was come for the deer to return from the hills, they used to lie waiting in ambush all along the road. And just212 where those two were coming on, there stood a certain hunter behind a thicket.

The young roe smelt the smell of a man, and immediately thought, “There’ll be some hunter behind there.” And she let the foolish stag go on first, and kept back herself. The hunter with one shot from his bow felled the stag there on the spot; but the roe, as soon as she saw he was hit, fled away like the wind.

Then the hunter came out of his ambush, skinned that deer, made a fire, cooked the sweet flesh in the glowing charcoal, ate and drank, and carried off the rest all dropping with blood and gore, and went home to give his children a treat.

Now the Bodisat of that time was a tree fairy, dwelling in that wood. When he saw what had happened, he said to himself,

“Not through father, not through mother, but through lust, has this poor fool of a deer come to his death. In the dawn of passion creatures think themselves in bliss, but they end in losing their limbs in misery, or tasting the grief of all kinds of bonds and blows. What more shameful in this world than that which brings sorrow and death to others? What more despicable than the country where women administer and teach, a land under harem rule? What more wretched than the men who give themselves up to women’s control?” And then, whilst all the fairies of the wood cast bouquets before him and cheered him on, he brought the three rebukes into one verse, and made the whole wood ring as he uttered the stanza—

O dreadful barbéd dart of love, that tears men’s hearts!
O foolish land, where woman bears the rule!
O stupid men, who fall ‘neath woman’s power!

When the Master had taught them this story, he proclaimed the Four Truths. And at the conclusion thereof that love-sick monk was converted. And the Master made the connexion, and summed up the Jātaka by saying, “The mountain-deer of that time was the love-sick brother, the roe was his former wife, and the tree fairy, who preached the sermon showing the evil of passion, was I myself.”

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