Sariputta | Dhammapada | The Story of a Bhikkhu Who Killed a Swan (Hamsa) Sariputta

The Story of a Bhikkhu Who Killed a Swan (Hamsa)

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (362) of this book, with reference to a bhikkhu who killed a swan.

Once there was a bhikkhu who was very skilful in throwing stones; he could even hit fast-moving objects without fail. One day, while sitting with another bhikkhu after having their bath in the Aciravati River, he saw two swans flying at some distance. He told his friend that he would get one of the swans by throwing a stone at it. At that instant, the swan, hearing voices, turned its neck and the bhikkhu threw a pebble at the bird. The pebble went through one eye and came out of the other eye of the bird. The bird cried out in pain and agony and dropped dead at the feet of the young bhikkhu.

Other bhikkhus seeing the incident took the young bhikkhu to the Buddha. The Buddha reprimanded him and said, "My son, why have you killed this bird? Why especially you, a member of my Order, who should be practising loving-kindness to all beings and who should be striving ardently for liberation from the round of rebirths? Even during the period outside the Teaching, the wise practised morality and observed the precepts. A bhikkhu must have control over his hands, his feet and his tongue."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 362: He who controls his hand, controls his foot, controls his speech, and has complete control of himself; who finds delight in Insight Development Practice and is calm; who stays alone and is contented; — him they call a bhikkhu.
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