"Whenever the load be heavy."--This the Master told while at Jetavana, about the Double Miracle. That and the Descent from Heaven will be explained in the Birth Story of the Sarabha Antelope, in the Thirteenth Book.
The Supreme Buddha performed on that occasion the Double Miracle, remained some time in heaven, and on the Great Day of the Pavarana Festival descended at the city of Sankassa, and entered Jetavana with a great retinue.
When the monks were seated in the Lecture Hall, they began to extol the virtue of the Teacher, saying, "Truly, Brethren! unequaled is the power of the Tathagata. The yoke the Tathagata bears none else is able to bear. Though the Six Teachers kept on saying, 'We will work wonders! We will work wonders!' they could not do even one. Ah! how unequaled is the power of the Tathagata!"
When the Teacher came there, he asked them what they were discussing, and they told him. Then he said, "O mendicants! who should now bear the yoke that I can bear? For even when an animal in a former birth I could find no one to drag the weight I dragged." And he told a tale.
"Long ago, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisattva returned to life as a bull.
"Now, when it was still a young calf, its owners stopped a while in an old woman's house, and gave him to her when they settled their account for their lodging. And she brought him up, treating him like a son, and feeding him on gruel and rice.
"He soon became known as 'The old woman's Blackie.' When he grew up, he roamed about, as black as collyrium, with the village cattle, and was very good-tempered and quiet. The village children used to catch hold of his horns, or ears, or dewlaps, and hang on to him; or amuse themselves by pulling his tail, or riding about on his back.
"One day he said to himself, 'My mother is wretchedly poor. She's taken so much pains, too, in bringing me up, and has treated me like a son. What if I were to work for hire, and so relieve her distress!' And from that day he was always on the look out for a job.
"Now one day a young caravan owner arrived at a neighboring ford with five hundred bullock-wagons. And his bullocks were not only unable to drag the carts across, but even when he yoked the five hundred pair in a row they could not move one cart by itself.
"The Bodhisattva was grazing with the village cattle close to the ford. The young caravan owner was a famous judge of cattle, and began looking about to see whether there were among them any thoroughbred bull able to drag over the carts. Seeing the Bodhisattva, he thought he would do; and asked the herdsmen--
"'Who may be the owners, my men, of this fellow? I should like to yoke him to the cart, and am willing to give a reward for having the carts dragged over.'
"'Catch him and yoke him then!' said they. 'He has no owner hereabouts.'
"But when he began to put a string through his nose and drag him along, he could not get him to come. For the Bodhisattva, it is said, wouldn't go till he was promised a reward.
"The young caravan owner, seeing what his object was, said to him, 'Sir! if you'll drag over these five hundred carts for me, I'll pay you wages at the rate of two pence for each cart--a thousand pieces in all.'
"Then the Bodhisattva went along of his own accord. And the men yoked him to the cart. And with a mighty effort he dragged it up and landed it safe on the high ground. And in the same manner he dragged up all the carts.
"So the caravan owner then put five hundred pennies in a bundle, one for each cart, and tied it round his neck. The bull said to himself, 'This fellow is not giving me wages according to the rate agreed upon. I shan't let him go on now!' And so he went and stood in the way of the front cart, and they tried in vain to get him away.
"The caravan owner thought, 'He knows, I suppose, that the pay is too little;' and wrapping a thousand pieces in a cloth, tied them up in a bundle, and hung that round his neck. And as soon as he had got the bundle with a thousand inside he went off to his 'mother.'
"Then the village children called out, 'See! what's that round the neck of the old woman's Blackie?' and began to run up to him. But he chased after them, so that they took to their heels before they got near him; and he went straight to his mother. And he appeared with eyes all bloodshot, utterly exhausted from dragging over so many carts.
"'How did you get this, dear?' said the good old woman, when she saw the bag round his neck. And when she heard, on inquiry from the herdsmen, what had happened, she exclaimed, 'Am I so anxious, then, to live on the fruit of your toil, my darling! Why do you put yourself to all this pain?'
"And she bathed him in warm water, and rubbed him all over with oil, and gave him to drink, and fed him up with good food. And at the end of her life she passed away according to her deeds, and the Bodhisattva with her."
When the Teacher had finished this lesson in virtue, in illustration of that saying of his ("Not now only, mendicants, has the Bodhisattva been excellent in power; he was so also in a former birth"), he made the connection, and, as Buddha, uttered the following stanza:
"Whenever the load be heavy,
Then the Blessed One told them, "At that time, mendicants, only the Black Bull could drag the load." And he then made the connection and summed up the Jataka: "The old woman of that time was Uppalavanna, but 'the old woman's Blackie' was I myself."