The whole earth will not satisfy an ungrateful man. Jātaka 72: i. 319-322.

To an ungrateful man. This parable was related by the Teacher while he was in residence at Veḷuvana with reference to Devadatta. The monks, seated in the of Truth, were saying: “Brethren, Devadatta the ungrateful knows not the virtues of the .” The Teacher drew near and asked: “Monks, what is the subject that engages your attention now, as you sit here all gathered together?” “Such-and-such,” was the reply. “Monks,” said the Teacher, “not only in his present state of existence has Devadatta proved ungrateful; in a previous state of existence also he was ungrateful just the same. At no time soever has he known my virtues.” Then, in response to a request of the monks, he related the following Story of the Past:

In times past, when Brahmadatta ruled at Benāres, the Future Buddha received a new conception in the region of Himavat in [12] the womb of an elephant. When he came forth from his mother’s womb, he was pure white, like a mass of silver; moreover, his eyes were like globules of jewels, and from them shone forth the Five Brightnesses; his mouth was like a crimson blanket; his trunk was like a rope of silver, ornamented with spots of ruddy gold; his four feet were as if rubbed with lac. Thus his person, adorned with the Ten Perfections, attained the pinnacle of beauty.

Now when he reached the age of , elephants from all over Himavat assembled and formed his retinue. Thus did he make his home in the region of Himavat, with a retinue of eighty thousand elephants. After a time, perceiving that there was contamination in the herd, he isolated himself from the herd and made his home quite alone in the forest. Moreover, by of his goodness, he became known as Good King Elephant.

Now a certain resident of Benāres, a forester, entered the forest, seeking wares whereby to make his living. Unable to distinguish the directions, he lost his way, and terrified with the fear of death, went about with outstretched arms lamenting. The Future Buddha, hearing those profound lamentations of his, : “I will free this man from his suffering.” And impelled by compassion, he went to him.

The instant that man saw the Future Buddha, he fled in fright. The Future Buddha, seeing him in flight, halted right where he was. The man, seeing that the Future Buddha had halted, himself halted. The Future Buddha came back. The man fled a second time, but halting when the Future Buddha halted, thought: “This elephant halts when I flee and approaches when I halt. He has no desire to do me harm, but without a doubt desires only to free me from this suffering.” And summoning up his courage, he halted.

The Future Buddha approached him and asked: “Why, Master man, do you go about lamenting?” “Master, because I couldn’t distinguish the directions, lost my way, and was afraid of death.” Then the Future Buddha conducted him to his own place of abode, and for a few days gladdened him with fruits and other edibles. Then said the Future Buddha: “Master man, don’t be afraid; I’ll conduct you to the path of man.” And seating him on his back, he proceeded to the path of men.

But that man, that betrayer of friends, even as he sat on the [13] back of the Future Buddha, thought: “If anybody asks me, I must be able to tell him where this elephant lives.” So as he went along, he noted carefully the landmarks of and mountain. Now the Future Buddha, having conducted that man out of the forest, set him down on the highway leading to Benāres, and said to him: “Master man, go by this road; but as for my place of abode, whether you are asked or not, say nothing to anybody about it.” So saying, he took leave of him and went back to his own place of abode.

Now that man went to Benāres, and in the course of his walks came to the street of the -carvers. And seeing the -carvers making various kinds of products, he asked: “But, sirs, how much would you make if you could get the tusk of a real live elephant?” “What are you saying, sir! The tusk of a live elephant is far more valuable than the tusk of a dead elephant.” “Very well! I’ll fetch you the tusk of a live elephant.” Accordingly, obtaining provisions for the journey and taking a sharp saw, he went to the place of abode of the Future Buddha.

When the Future Buddha saw him, he asked: “For what purpose have you come?” “I, sir, am a poor man, a pauper, unable to make a living. I came with this thought in my mind: ‘I will ask you for a fragment of one of your tusks; if you will give it to me, I will take it and go and sell it and with the money it brings make a living.’ “Let be, sir! I’ll give you tusks, if you have a sharp saw to cut them off with.” “I brought a saw with me, sir.” “Very well, sever the tusks with your saw and take them and go your way.” So saying, the Future Buddha bowed his knees together and sat down like a cow. The man actually cut off his two principal tusks!

The Future Buddha, taking those tusks in his trunk, said: “Master man, not with the thought, ‘These tusks are not dear to me, not pleasing to me,’ do I give you these tusks. But dearer to me than these a thousand times, – a hundred thousand times, – are the Tusks of Omniscience, which avail to the comprehension of all things. May this gift of tusks which I here bestow enable me to attain Omniscience!” So saying, as it were sowing the Seed of Omniscience, he gave him the pair of tusks.

The man took them and went and sold them. When the money [14] they brought was gone, he went to the Future Buddha again and said: “Master, the money I got by selling your tusks turned out to be no more than enough to pay off my debts. Give me the rest of your tusks!” “Very well,” said the Future Buddha, consenting. And ordering all things precisely as before, he gave him the rest of his tusks.

Those also did that man sell, and then came back again. “Master,” said he, “I cannot make a living. Give me the stumps of your tusks!” “Very well,” said the Future Buddha, and sat down precisely as before. That wicked man trod on the Great Being’s trunk, – that trunk which was like unto a rope of silver; climbed up on the Great Being’s temples, – those temples which were like unto the snow-clad peaks of Kelāsa, with his kicking the tips of the tusks and loosening the flesh; and having mounted the temples, with a sharp saw severed the stumps of the tusks, and went his way.

But even as that wicked man receded from the vision of the Future Buddha, the solid earth, which extends for a distance of two hundred thousand leagues and four Inconceivable more, which is able to endure such mighty burdens as Sineru and Yugandhara, such foulsmelling and repulsive objects as dung and , – even the solid earth, as if unable to endure the wickedness he had piled upon it, burst asunder and yawned. Instantly from the Great Waveless flames of fire shot forth, enveloped that man, that betrayer of friends, wrapping him, as it were, in a blanket proper for death and laid hold of him.

When that wicked man thus entered the earth, the tree-spirit resident in that forest-grove thought: “An ungrateful man, a man who will betray his friends, cannot be satisfied, even if he be given the kingdom of a Universal Monarch.” And making the forest ring, proclaiming the Truth, the tree-spirit uttered the following stanza:

To an ungrateful man
Ever looking for an opening
You may give the whole earth
And yet not satisfy him.

Thus did that tree-spirit, making the forest ring, proclaim the Truth. The Future Buddha, having remained on earth during the term of life allotted to him, passed away according to his deeds. Said the Teacher: “Monks, not only in his present state of existence has Devadatta proved ungrateful; in a previous state of existence also he was ungrateful just the same.” Having completed the parable, he identified the personages in the Birth-story as follows: “At that time the man who betrayed his was Devadatta, the tree-spirit was Sāriputta, but Good King Elephant was I myself.”