WARREN: BUDDHISM IN TRANSLATIONS

267

 

 


 

 

Ī 54. Friendship: The Sāketa Birth-Story

Translated from the Jātaka (i.308.24), and constituting Birth-Story 68

"On whom the heart instinctive rests." This was related by The Teacher while dwelling in Añjana Wood, which is in the vicinity of Sāketa; and it was concerning a certain Brahman.

It appears that, as The Blessed One, surrounded by the congregation of the priests, was about to enter Añjana Wood, which is in the vicinity of Sāketa, a certain aged Brahman, a citizen of Sāketa, came out from that city and saw The One Possessing the Ten Forces in the gate-way. Falling at his feet, the Brahman seized him firmly by the ankles, and said,

"O my dear boy! Should not parents in their old age be taken care of by their sons? Why, in all this long time, have you not shown yourself to us? And now that I have seen you, come and let your mother see you also." And with that he took The Teacher home with him.

When The Teacher arrived there, he sat down with the [268] congregation of the priests, taking the seat that was spread for him.

Then came also the Brahman's wife, and fell at The Teacher's feet.

"O my dear boy!" said she, weeping. "Where have you been gone so long? Should you not have paid your respects to your aged father and mother?" And she made her sons and her daughters do him obeisance, saying, "Come, do obeisance to your brother."

The Brahman and his wife, in great delight, gave a liberal repast, and at the close of breakfast, The Teacher preached to these two persons the Discourse on Old Age. At the close of the discourse, both the Brahman and his wife had become established in the fruit of never returning. The Teacher then rose from his seat, and returned to Añjana Wood.

And it came to pass, that when the priests were convened in the lecture-hall, they raised a discussion:

"Brethren, the Brahman knows the father of The Tathāgata to be Suddhodana, and his mother Mahā-Māyā. Notwithstanding, both he and his wife call The Tathāgata their son, and The Teacher consents to it. What now is the reason?"

When The Teacher heard their discussion, he said,

"Priests, they call me son who am their son." So saying, he related the occurrences of by-gone existences: --

"Priests, in past time this Brahman was for five hundred successive existences my father, and for five hundred successive existences my uncle, and for five hundred successive existences my grandfather. And also this Brahman's wife was for five hundred successive existences my mother, and for five hundred successive existences my aunt, and for five hundred successive existences my grandmother. Thus for fifteen hundred existences was I brought up by this Brahman, and for fifteen hundred existences was I brought up by this Brahman's wife."

Thus did The Buddha tell of three thousand existences, and then pronounced the following stanza:

[269]

"On whom the heart instinctive rests,
In whom the spirit finds delight,
With him, though one ne'er seen before,
Safely in friendship one may dwell."

On whom the heart instinctive rests: --On whatever individual the mind rests securely at first sight.

In whom the spirit finds delight: --In whom the spirit delights, for whom it feels tenderness, at first sight.

With him, though one ne'er seen before: --Strictly speaking, one never seen before in this present existence.

Safely in friendship one may dwell: --On account of previous friendship one may have thorough confidence in that individual: in other words, that is the reason one does have confidence in him.

When The Teacher had given this doctrinal instruction, and had applied the moral to the story, he identified the characters of the Birth-Story:

"In those existences the Brahman and the Brahman's wife were the Brahman and the Brahman woman of this existence; the son was I myself."

The Sāketa Birth-Story.

 


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