"Speak Kindly"--This the Master told when at Jetavana concerning the abusive language of the Six.
For on one occasion the Six made a disturbance by seeming, snubbing, and annoying peaceable monks, and overwhelming them with the ten kinds of abuse. The monks told the Blessed One about it. He sent for the Six, and asked them whether it was true. And on their acknowledging it, he reproved them, saying, "Harsh speaking, O mendicants, is unpleasant, even to animals. An animal once made a man who addressed him harshly lose a thousand." And he told a tale.
"Long ago a king of Gandhara was reigning in Takkasila, in the land of Gandhara. The Bodhisattva came to life then as a bull.
"Now, when he was yet a young calf, a certain Brahman, after attending upon some devotees who were wont to give oxen to priests, received the bull. And he called it Nandi Visala, and grew very fond of it; treating it like a son, and feeding it on gruel and rice.
"When the Bodhisattva grew up, he said to himself, 'This Brahman has brought me up with great care; and there's no other ox in all the continent of India can drag the weight I can. What if I were to let the Brahman know about my strength, and so in my turn provide sustenance for him!'
"And he said one day to the Brahman, 'Do you go now. Brahman, to some squire rich in cattle, and offer to bet him a thousand that your ox will move a hundred laden carts.'
"The Brahman went to a rich farmer, and started a conversation thus:
"'Whose bullocks hereabout do you think the strongest?'
"'Such and such a man's,' said the farmer; and then added, 'but of course there are none in the whole countryside to touch my own!'
"'I have one ox,' said the Brahman, 'who is good to move a hundred carts, loads and all!'
"'Tush!' said the squire. 'Where in the world is such an ox?'
"'Just in my house!' said the Brahman.
"'Then make a bet about it!'
"'All right! I bet you a thousand he can.'
"So the bet was made. And he filled a hundred carts (small wagons made for two bullocks) with sand and gravel and stones, ranged them all in a row, and tied them all firmly together, cross-bar to axle-tree.
"Then he bathed Nandi Visala, gave him a measure of scented rice, hung a garland round his neck, and yoked him by himself to the front cart. Then he took his seat on the pole, raised his goad aloft, and called out, 'Gee up! you brute!! Drag 'em along! you wretch!!'
"The Bodhisattva said to himself, 'He addresses me as a wretch. I am no wretch!' And keeping his four legs as firm as so many posts, he stood perfectly still.
"Then the squire that moment claimed his bet, and made the Brahman hand over the thousand pieces. And the Brahman, minus his thousand, took out his ox, went home to his house, and lay down overwhelmed with grief.
"Presently Nandi Visala, who was roaming about the place, came up and saw the Brahman grieving there, and said to him,
"'What, Brahman! are you asleep?'
"'Sleep! How can I sleep after losing the thousand pieces?'
"'Brahman! I've lived so long in your house, and have I ever broken any pots, or rubbed up against the walls, or made messes about?'
"'Never, my dear!'
"'Then why did you call me a wretch? It's your fault. It's not my fault. Go now, and bet him two thousand, and never call me a wretch again--I, who am no wretch at all!'
"When the Brahman heard what he said, he made the bet two thousand, tied the carts together as before, decked out Nandi Visala, and yoked him to the foremost cart.
"He managed this in the following way: he tied the pole and the cross-piece fast together; yoked Nandi Visala on one side; on the other he fixed a smooth piece of timber from the point of the yoke to the axle-end, and wrapping it round with, the fastenings of the cross-piece, tied it fast; so that when this was done, the yoke could not move this way and that way, and it was possible for one ox to drag forwards the double bullock-cart.
"Then the Brahman seated himself on the pole, stroked Nandi Visala on the back, and called out, 'Gee up! my beauty!! Drag it along, my beauty!!'
"And the Bodhisattva, with one mighty effort, dragged forwards the hundred heavily-laden carts, and brought the hindmost one up to the place where the foremost one had stood!
"Then the cattle-owner acknowledged himself beaten, and handed over to the Brahman the two thousand; the bystanders, too, presented the Bodhisattva with a large sum; and the whole became the property of the Brahman. Thus, by means of the Bodhisattva, great was the wealth he acquired.
"So the Teacher reproved the Six, saying, 'Harsh words, mendicants, are pleasant to no one;' and uttered, as Buddha, the following stanza, laying down a rule of moral conduct:
"Speak kindly; never speak in words unkind!
When the Teacher had given them this lesson in virtue ("Speak kindly,"), he summed up the Jataka, "The Brahman of that time was Ananda, but Nandi Visala was I myself."