A Hero Named Jinx – Jataka Tales

Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
[Friendship]
[Kālaka i-Jātaka]
This story was told by the Buddha while he was
dwelling in Jetavana monastery with regard to a friend of the
millionaire Anāthapi ika’s named ‘Jinx’ [Kālaka i]²⁶, to
whom Anāthapi ika remained faithful from childhood
despite his name, and who at one point saved
Anāthapi ika’s wealth from robbers.
When Anāthapi ika told the Buddha the incident, the
Buddha said, “This is not the first time that a man named Jinx
has saved his friend’s wealth from robbers. The exact same
thing happened as well in the past.” And at Anāthapi ika’s
request, the Buddha told the story of the past:
Once upon a time, there was a very rich man who was
well known for wholesomeness. He had a good friend who
had the somewhat strange name, Jinx [Kālaka i]. They had
been the best of friends ever since they were little children
making mud-pies together. They had gone to the same
schools and helped each other always.
After graduating, Jinx fell on hard times. He couldn’t
find a job and earn a living. So he went to see his lifelong
²⁶ Literally, the name means ‘one with black ears.’ To be
“black-eared” is an
unlucky quality. It is a bad omen that spoils luck. Hence, ‘Jinx.’
friend, the prosperous and successful rich man. He was kind
and comforting to his friend Jinx, and was happy to hire him
to manage his property and business.
After he went to work in the rich man’s mansion, pretty
soon his strange name became a household word. People
said, “Wait a minute, Jinx,” “Hurry up, Jinx,” “Do this, Jinx,”
“Do that, Jinx.”
After a while some of the rich man’s neighbors went to
him and said, “Dear friend and neighbor, we are concerned
that misfortune may strike. Your mansion manager has a very
strange and unlucky name. You should not let him live with
you any longer. His name fills your house, with people
saying, ‘Wait a minute, Jinx,’ ‘Hurry up, Jinx,’ ‘Do this,
Jinx,’ ‘Do that, Jinx.’ People only use the word ‘jinx’ when
they want to cause bad luck or misfortune. Even house spirits
and fairies would be frightened by hearing it constantly and
would run away. This can only bring disaster to your
household. The man named Jinx is inferior to you – he is
miserable and ugly. What advantage can you possibly get by
keeping such a fellow around?”
The rich man replied, “Jinx is my best friend! We have
supported and cared for each other ever since we were little
tots making mud-pies together. A lifelong trustworthy friend
is of great value indeed! I could not reject him and lose our
friendship just because of his name. After all, a name is only
for recognition.
“The wise don’t give a name a second thought. Only
fools are superstitious about sounds and words and names.
They don’t make good luck or bad luck!” So saying, the rich
man refused to follow the advice of his busybody neighbors.
One day he went on a journey to his home village.
While he was away, he left his friend Jinx in charge of his
mansion home.
It just so happened that a gang of robbers heard about
this. They decided it would be a perfect time to rob the
mansion. So they armed themselves with various weapons
and surrounded the rich man’s home during the night.
Meanwhile, the faithful Jinx suspected that robbers
might attack. So he stayed up all night to guard his friend’s
possessions. When he caught sight of the gang surrounding
the house, he woke up everybody inside. Then he got them to
blow shell horns and beat drums and make as much noise as
possible.
Hearing all this, the bandits thought, “We must have
been given bad information. There must be many people
inside and the rich man must still be at home.” So they threw
down their clubs and other weapons, and ran away.
The next morning the people from the mansion were
surprised to see the discarded weapons. They said to each
other, “If we didn’t have such a wise house protector, all the
wealth in the mansion would certainly have been stolen. Jinx
has turned out to be a hero! Rather than bringing bad luck,
such a strong friend has been a blessing to the rich man.”
When the master of the house returned home his
neighbors met him and told him what had happened. He said,
“You all advised against letting my friend stay with me. If I
had done as you said, I’d be penniless today!
“Walking together for just seven steps is enough to start
a friendship. Continuing for 12 steps forms a bond of loyalty.
Remaining together for a month brings the closeness of
relatives. And for longer still, the friend becomes like a
second self. So my friend Jinx is no jinx – but a great
blessing!”
At the conclusion of this Jātaka story, the Buddha
identified the births:
“The venerable Ānanda was the faithful Jinx of those
days. And I, myself, was the rich man.”
The moral: “The longer the friendship, the greater its
rewards.”