Poison Dice – Jataka Tales

Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
The Buddha told this story while living in Jetavana
temple with regard to the thoughtless use of things.
At one time, the monks of that day were thoughtless in
their use of the four requisites [catu-paccaya-s]. These are
clothing, food, shelter, and medicine. Such thoughtlessness
barred their escape from the cycle of re-becoming [puna-
bbhava]. Knowing this, the Buddha set forth rules with
regard to their careful usage. The Buddha said, “Thoughtless
use of the four requisites is like taking deadly poison. And
there are, indeed, those in the past who by their
thoughtlessness did inadvertently take poison.” Saying this,
the Buddha told a Jātaka story of the past:
Once upon a time there was a rich man living in
Benares who was addicted to gambling. He played dice with
another gambling addict, a man whose mind worked in tricky
While the rich gambler was very honest and above
board, the tricky one was dishonest. When he kept on
winning he kept on playing. But when he began to lose he
secretly put one of the dice in his mouth and swallowed it.
Then he claimed it was lost and stopped the game.
The rich gambler began to notice this trick. Then one
day he decided to teach him a lesson. He smeared poison on
the dice and let it dry so it was invisible. He took these dice
to the usual place and said, “Let’s play dice!”
His friend agreed. They set up the gambling board and
began to play. As usual the tricky one began by winning
every throw of the dice. But as soon as he began to lose he
sneaked the dice into his mouth.
Seeing this the rich gambler said, “Swallow now, and
then something you don’t expect will happen. Your own
dishonesty will make you suffer much.”
After swallowing the poison dice the trickster fell down
sick and fainted. The rich gambler, who was basically good
at heart, thought, “Enough is enough. Now I must save his
He made a medical mixture to cause vomiting. He made
him swallow it, and he threw up the poison dice. He gave
him a drink made with clear butter, thick palm syrup, honey
and cane sugar. This made the trickster feel just fine again.
Afterwards he advised him not to deceive a trusting
friend again. Eventually both gamblers died and were reborn
as they deserved.
At the end of this Jātaka story, the Buddha said:
“I, myself, was the honest rich gambler in the past.”
The moral: “Deceiving a friend may be hazardous to your

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