In the introduction to the Asatamanta Jataka,92 the Master, while at
Jetavana, says to the Brother, 'Women, Brother, are lustful, profligate, vile and
degraded. Why be passion-tossed for a vile woman? The Sussondi Jataka 93 describes the
unfaith- fulness of Queen Sussondi to her husband as well as to her lover. She deceived the
Garuda, who was enamored of the queen and carries her off from the palace by creating a
magical storm. Then he repents and says - 'Though I dwelt in the abode of the
failed to guard her safely. What is this wicked woman to me?
We thus find most of the Jataka stories highlight the wickedness and
the vile nature of women. They serve as a clue to estimate the position of a woman in
those times. Types of nobler womanhood are not wanting, but they are few, compared with
the enormous number of references to the wickedness of women.
Some of the Jatakas display a striking resemblance to stories in the
Mahabharata and Ramayana. The Kathahari Jataka, which has been traced by the Ceylon RAS
Journal, 1884, to the story of Dushyanta and Sakuntala of the Mahabharata and to
Kalidasa's drama of the Lost Ring, betrays in the course of the narration the opinion
about women in those times. The king, after marrying a woman whom he met in a wood, gives
her a ring when leaving for his kingdom, and says:
'If it be a girl, spend this ring on her fortune; but, if it be a boy,
bring the ring and the child to me.'
The child is born and grows up. One day he is taunted by his friends at
playtime with having 'no father, upon which he comes to the mother and inquires about his
father. The mother takes the boy to the palace and presents him to the king, saying, '
This is your son, sire.' The king knows that it is true, but, as lie is overcome by shame,
he declines to recognize him, and says: 'He is no son of mine.' The mother shows the
signet ring, on which he says, 'Nor is this my signet ring.' On hearing this she appeals
to truth, saying, 'Wherefore, if you be the father of my child, I pray that he may stay in
mid air; but if not, may he fall to earth and be killed.'