The Quail King And The Hunter – Jataka Tales
Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
Once upon a time, there was a Quail King
who reigned over a flock of a thousand quails.
There was also a very clever quail hunter.
He knew how to make a quail call. Because this
sounded just like a real quail crying for help, it
never failed to attract other quails. Then the hunter
covered them with a net, stuffed them in baskets,
and sold them to make a living.
Because he always put the safety of his
flock first. Quail King was highly respected by all.
While on the lookout for danger, one day he came
across the hunter and saw what he did. He
thought, ‘This quail hunter has a good plan for de-
stroying our relatives. I must make a better plan to
Then he called together his whole nation of
a thousand quails. He also invited other quails to
attend the meeting. He said, “Greetings to our
quail nation and welcome to our visitors. We are
faced with great danger. Many of our relatives are
being trapped and sold by a clever hunter. Then
they are being killed and eaten. I have come up
with a plan to save us all. When the hunter covers
us with his net, every single one of us must raise
his neck at the same time. Then, all together, we
should fly away with the net and drop it on a thorn
bush. That will keep him busy, and we will be
able to escape with our lives.” All agreed to follow
this smart strategy.
The next day the hunter lured the quails
with his quail call as usual. But when he threw his
net over them, they all raised up their necks at
once, flew away with the net, and dropped it on a
thorn bush. He could catch no quails at all! In ad-
dition, it took him the rest of the day to loosen his
net from the thorns – so he had no time left to try
The same thing happened on the following
day. So he spent a second day unhooking his net
from sharp thorns. He arrived home only to be
greeted by his wife’s sharp tongue! She com-
plained, “You used to bring home quail to eat, and
money from selling quails. Now you return
empty-handed. What do you do all day? You must
have another wife somewhere, who is feasting on
quail meat at this very moment!”
The hunter replied, “Don’t think such a
thing, my darling. These days the quails have be-
come very unified. They act as one, and raise up
their necks and carry my net to a thorn bush. But
thanks to you, my one and only wife, I know just
what to do! Just as you argue with me, one day
they too will argue, as relatives usually do. While
they are occupied in conflict and bickering, I will
trap them and bring them back to you. Then you
will be pleased with me again. Until then, I must
The hunter had to put up with his wife’s
complaints for several more days. Then one morn-
ing after being lured by the quail call, it just so
happened that one quail accidentally stepped on
the head of another. He immediately got angry
and squawked at her. She removed her foot from
his head and said, “Please don’t be angry with me.
Please excuse my mistake.” But he would not lis-
ten. Soon both of them were squawking and
squawking, and the conflict got worse and worse!
Hearing this bickering getting louder and
louder, Quail King said, “There is no advantage in
conflict. Continuing it will lead to danger!” But
they just wouldn’t listen.
Then Quail King thought, “I’m afraid this
silly conflict will keep them from cooperating to
raise the net.” So he commanded that all should
escape. His own flock flew away at once.
And it was just in time too! Suddenly the
quail hunter threw his net over the remaining
quails. The two arguing quails said to each other, I
won’t hold the net for you.” Hearing this, even
some of the other quails said, “Why should I hold
the net for anyone else?”
So the conflict spread like wildfire. The
hunter grabbed all the quails, stuffed them in his
baskets, and took them home to his wife. Of
course she was overjoyed, and they invited all
their friends over for a big quail feast.
The moral is: There is safety in unity, and
danger in conflict.