The Bodhisatta was once a deer and had two sons, Lakkhana and Kāla. When the time came for gathering the crops, he told his sons to seek refuge in the mountain tracts with their herds. They agreed, but Kāla, being ignorant, kept his deer on the tramp early and late, and men, coming upon them, destroyed most of them. Lakkhana, however, moved his deer only in the dead of night and reached the forest without losing any of his herd. The same thing happened on their return four months later, and the Boddhisatta praised Lakkhana's intelligence.

The story was related in reference to Devadatta and Sāriputta. Devadatta had persuaded five hundred monks to secede from the Buddha and go with him, but Sāriputta visited them and brought them all back.

Devadatta is identified with Kāla and Sāriputta with Lakkhana. J.i.142f.; the story is referred to at DhA.i.122.

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