"No longer can he take a morsel even,"--This the Master told when at Jetavana about an old monk and a lay convert.
At Savatthi, the story goes, there were two friends. One of them, entered the Order, and went every day to get his meal at the house of the other. The other gave him to eat, and ate himself; and went back with him to the monastery, sat there chatting and talking with him till sunset, and then returned to the city. The other, again, used to accompany him to the city gate, and then turn back. And the close friendship between them became common talk among the brethren.
Now one day the monks sat talking in the Lecture Hall about their intimacy. When the Teacher came, he asked them what they were talking about, and they told him. Then he said, "Not now only, O mendicants, have these been close allies; they were so also in a former birth." And he told a tale.
"Long ago, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisattva became his minister.
"At that time a dog used to go to the state elephant's stable, and feed on the lumps of rice which fell where the elephant fed. Being attracted there by the food, he soon became great friends with the elephant, and used to eat close by him. At last neither of them was happy without the other; and the dog used to amuse himself by catching hold of the elephant's trunk, and swinging to and fro.
"But one day there came a peasant who gave the elephant-keeper money for the dog, and took it back with him to his village. From that time the elephant, missing the dog, would neither eat nor drink nor bathe. And they let the king know about it.
"He sent the Bodhisattva, saying, 'Do you go, Pandit, and find out what's the cause of the elephant's behavior.'
"So he went to the stable, and seeing how sad the elephant looked, said to himself, 'There seems to be nothing bodily the matter with him. He must be so overwhelmed with grief by missing some one, I should think, who had become near and dear to him.' And he asked the elephant-keepers, 'Is there any one with whom he is particularly intimate?'
"'Certainly, Sir! There was a dog of whom he was very fond indeed!'
"'Where is it now?'
"'Some man or other took it away.'
"'Do you know where the man lives?'
"Then the Bodhisattva went and told the king, 'There's nothing the matter with the elephant, your majesty; but he was great friends with a dog, and I fancy it's through missing it that he refuses his food.' And so saying, he uttered the stanza:
"'No longer can he take a morsel even
"When the king heard what he said, he asked what was now to be done.
"'Have a proclamation made, O king, to this effect: "A man is said to have taken away a dog of whom our state elephant was fond. In whose house soever that dog shall be found, he shall be fined so much!"'
"The king did so; and as soon as he heard of it, the man turned the dog loose. The dog hastened back, and went close up to the elephant. The elephant took him up in his trunk, and placed him on his forehead, and wept and cried, and took him down again, and watched him as he fed. And then he took his own food.
"Then the king paid great honor to the Bodhisattva for knowing the motives even of animals."
When the Teacher had finished this discourse, and had enlarged upon the Four Truths, he made the connection and summed up the Jataka, "He who at that time was the dog was the lay convert, the elephant was the old monk, but the minister pandit was I myself."