Dirty Bath Water – Jataka Tales

Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
[Cleanliness]
Once upon a time, in a kingdom in India,
the finest of the royal horses was taken down to
the river to be bathed. The grooms took him to the
same shallow pool where they always washed
him.
However, just before they arrived, a filthy
dirty horse had been washed in the same spot. He
had been caught in the countryside and had never
had a good bath in all his life.
The fine royal horse sniffed the air. He
knew right away that some filthy wild horse had
bathed there and fouled the water. So he was dis-
gusted and refused to be washed at that place.
The grooms tried their best to get him into
the water, but could do nothing with him. So they
went to the king and complained that the fine well
trained royal stallion had suddenly become stub-
born and unmanageable.
It just so happened that the king had an in-
telligent minister who was known for his under-
standing of animals. So he called for him and said,
“Please go and see what has happened to my
number one horse. Find out if he is sick or what is
the reason he refuses to be bathed. Of all my
horses, I thought this one was of such high quality
that he would never let himself sink into dirtiness.
There must be something wrong.”
The minister went down to the riverside
bathing pool immediately. He found that the
stately horse was not sick, but in perfect health.
He noticed also that he was deliberately breathing
as little as possible. So he sniffed the air and
smelled a slight foul odour. Investigating further,
he found that it came from the unclean water in
the bathing pool. So he figured out that another
very dirty horse must have been washed there, and
that the king’s horse was too fond of cleanliness to
bathe in dirty water.
The minister asked the horse grooms, “Has
any other horse been bathed at this spot today?”
“Yes,” they replied, “before we arrived, a dirty
wild horse was bathed here.”
The minister told them, “My dear grooms,
this is a fine royal horse who loves cleanliness. He
does not wish to bathe in dirty water. So the thing
to do is to take him up river, where the water is
fresh and clean, and wash him there.”
They followed his instructions, and the
royal horse was pleased to bathe in the new place.
The minister returned to the king and told
what had happened. Then he said, “You were cor-
rect your majesty, this fine horse was indeed of
such high quality that he would not let himself
sink into dirtiness!”
The king was amazed that his minister
seemed to be able to read the mind of a horse. So
he rewarded him appropriately.
The moral is: Even animals value cleanliness.