Majjhima Nikaya

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Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima-Paṇṇāsa
4. Rāja Vagga

Sacred Books of the Buddhists
Volume VI
Dialogues of the Buddha
Part V

Further Dialogues of the Buddha
Volume II

Translated from the Pali
by Lord Chalmers, G.C.B.
Sometime Governor of Ceylon

Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
Public Domain

Sutta 81

Ghaṭīkāra Suttaɱ

The Potter's Devotion


[45] [23]

[1][pts][upal] THUS have I heard:

Once when the Lord
with a large train of Almsmen
was on an alms-pilgrimage in Kosala,
he turned off the road
and at a certain spot smiled.

Thought the reverend Ānanda: -

What is the cause,
what are the reasons
for the Lord's smiling;
for, Truth-finders never smile
without cause and reason.

So, with one shoulder respectfully bared
and with folded palms reverently extended towards [24] the Lord,
Ānanda asked what made him smile,
seeing that Truth-finaers never smile
without cause and reason.

In bygone times, Ānanda,
a market-town stood here, named Vehalinga,
opulent and wealthy,
populous and thronged with folk;
and hard by
lived Kassapa the Lord,
Arahat all-enlightened.

Just here was his pleasaunce;
and on this very spot
he sat preaching to is Confraternity.

Spreading out his robe folded in four,
Ānanda said: -

I beg the Lord to seat himself here,
and then this spot will have been frequented
by two Arahats all-enlightened.

Seating himself accordingly,
the Lord addressedĀnanda as follows: -

Yes, Kassapa the Lord,
Arahat all-enlightened,
lived near the market-town of Vehalinga,
and on this very spot he sat [46] preaching to his Confraternity.

In the town there was a potter named Ghaṭīkara
who ministered, more than anyone,
to Kassapa the Lord,
Arahat all-enlightened;
and Ghaṭīkara had
as his bosom-friend
a young brahmin named Jotipāla,
whom he wanted to take to see
Kassapa the Lord, Arahat all-enlightened,
as he much valued going there himself.

A truce to this,
my dear Ghaṭīkara,
was the answer;
what is the good of seeing that shaveling of a recluse?

A second time
and yet a third time
did Ghaṭīkara renew his appeal,
but only to get the same answer.

So he then invited Jotipāla
to come with him to the river to bathe,
taking with them their strings of red bath-balls
to shampoo themselves with.

Jotipāla readily assenting,
down the two went to the river to bathe,
and here Ghaṭīkara,
after mentioning that the Lord Kassapa's pleasaunce was hard by,
renewed his appeal to Jotipāla,
[47] repeating it thrice
and thrice receiving the same refusal as before.

Then, he made his appeal again,
this time with a grip on Jotipāla's girdle;
but Jotipāla shook his girdle free
and again refused to come.

At last, Ghaṭīkara seized Jotipāla -
whose hair was down after bathing -
by the hair of his head
and made a final appeal to him to [25] come.

Thought the young brahmin: -

This is wonderful indeed and marvellous that this potter,
my inferior in birth,
should be impelled to seize me by the hair;
methinks this presages great things.

So he said to the potter: -

To this length do you go,
friend Ghaṭīkara?

Yes, to this length, friend Jotipāla,
so highly [48] do I value
going to see Kassapa the Lord,
Arahat all-enlightened.

Let go then, and we will start now.

So to Kassapa the Lord the two went.

On arrival, the potter
after salutations
took his seat to one side,
as also did the young brahmin
after exchange of civil greetings.

Ghaṭīkara then presented his friend the young brahmin Jotipāla,
with the request that the Lord would instruct him in the Doctrine.

Thereupon, by a discourse on the Doctrine,
the Lord Kassapa instructed,
and cheered them onwards, -
after which the two thanked him with glad hearts,
rose up,
and took their leave with deep reverence.

Said Jotipāla to Ghaṭīkara: -

Hearing this Doctrine,
are you not for becoming a Pilgrim?

Do you not know,
my dear Jotipāla,
that I have aged,
blind parents to support?

Well, then, I will go from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim.

So back the two went to Kassapa the Lord,
[49] to whom,
when after salutations they were both seated,
Ghaṭīkara presented his friend for admission to the Order;
and Jotipāla was admitted and confirmed
of the following of Kassapa the Lord,
Arahat all-enlightened.

Soon -
about a fortnight after Jotipālas confirmation -
the Lord Kassapa,
having stayed as long as he wanted at Vehalinga,
proceeded on his tour towards Benares,
where he resided in the Sages' grove in the deer-park.

When it reached the ears of Kikī,
king of Kāsi,
that the Lord Kassapa had arrived there,
he ordered his chariots so fair, so fair,
to be got ready
and in one of these
drove in procession out of Benares
in royal state
to visit the Lord Kassapa.

After riding in his chariot
as far as the ground permitted,
and then con- [26] tinuing his way on foot,
the king came to the Lord,
whom he first saluted
and then took a seat to one side,
there to be instructed,
and cheered onwards
by a discourse from the Lord Kassapa.

The instruction over,
the king invited the Lord,
[50] with the Confraternity,
to take his meal with him on the morrow.

By silence the Lord gave assent,
whereon the king rose
and withdrew with deep reverence.

When night was gone,
the king ordered an excellent meal in his palace
of food, both hard and soft,
made of specially dried golden-rice without speck,
and divers sauces and curries therewith.

Then he ordered announcement to be made to Kassapa the Lord,
Arahat all-enlightened,
that all was ready;
and in the forenoon,
duly robed and bowl in hand,
the Lord came to the palace
and sat down on the seat set for him,
with his Confraternity round him.

Thereupon, with his own royal hands
the king served that excellent meal to the Confraternity
with the Buddha at its head, -
without stint,
till all had had their fill.

The Lord's meal over,
the king took a low seat to one side
and invited the Lord to spend the rainy season at Benares,
where the Confraternity would be ministered to
as they had been that day.

Stay, sire;
I have already promised to be elsewhere for the rains.

After repeating his invitation
a second and yet a third time,
and still being met by the same answer,
the king [51],
upset and pained by this refusal,
asked the Lord whether there was anyone
who ministered more than himself.

Yes sire; at Vehalinga there is a potter named Ghaṭīkara
who in his ministrations
surpasses all others.

Your Majesty was upset
and pained by my refusal; -
not so Ghaṭīkara
either now or any future time.

He has found his refuge in the Buddha,
the Doctrine,
and the Confraternity;
he slays not;
he steals not;
no sensual misconduct is his;
he lies not;
he indulges not in arrack or spirits or strong drink;
perfect faith is his in the Buddha,
the Doctrine,
and the Confra- [27] ternity;
his are the virtues dear to the Noble.

No doubts cloud his beliefs concerning Ill,
the origin of Ill,
the cessation of Ill,
and the course which leads to the cessation of Ill.

Eating only one meal a day,
he lives the higher life
in virtue and goodness.

He has flung aside
all jewels and golden ornaments;
no gold or silver has he.

Neither with tool nor hand
does he dig up[1] ground,
resting content for his material
with the crumbling soil of a bank
or with the earth scratched out by rats and dogs.

Of his pots made therewith
he bids folk take what they like
in barter for rice or beans or pulse.

He supports [52] his blind and aged parents.

By destruction of the five bonds
which tie men to this lower world,
Ghaṭīkara is destined to translation hereafter
to realms above,
never to return thence to this world any more.

Once, sire,
when I was at Vehalinga,
I, early in the day,
duly robed and bowl in hand,
went to Ghaṭīkara's parents
and asked where their son was.

Your ministrant, said they, is out;
take the rice from the pot
and the curry from the dish.

I did so
and afterwards left.

When Ghaṭīkara returned,
and asked his parents
who had gone off with the food,
and was told that it was Kassapa the Lord,
Arahat all-enlightened,
his only thought was how great a thing,
how very great a thing,
that the Lord should repose such confidence in him!

And gladness and satisfaction
lasted on for a fortnight for him,
and for a week for his parents.

Precisely the same thing
happened another time
when I had the junket from a pan
with the curry from the dish

... [58] week for his parents.

Another time,
when I was at this same Vehalinga,
my hut let the rain in,
and I told the Almsmen to go and see
if there was any thatching material
at Ghaṭīkara's dwelling.

No, was their answer;
there is only the thatch on his own roof.

Then go and strip it off, said I;
and they did so.

The parents asked who was stripping their thatch off
[28] and received the answer
that the hut of the Lord Kassapa
was letting the rain in.

Take it, sirs, said they;
take it, dear people.

When the potter returned
and on enquiry was told of all this,
his only thought was how great

... [54] week for his parents.

For three whole months
the dwelling stood bare to the heavens,
and yet not a drop of rain came through! -

Such, sire, is Ghaṭīkara the potter.

Said the king: -

It is a great thing, sir,
a very great thing indeed,
for this potter to have such confidence
reposed in him by the Lord.

Then, Ānanda,
Kikī, king of Kāsi,
ordered five hundred cartloads
of the choicest golden-rice,
with curry-stuffs to match,
to be despatched to the potter,
to whom the king's servants came
with the royal present
for acceptance accordingly.

The king, was his response,
has much to do and look after;
I have nothing to do with him.

But, if you were to imagine, Ānanda,
that the young brahmin,
Jotipāla, of those days
was someone else,
that would be erroneous; -
it was I myself who was Jotipāla then.

Thus spoke the Lord.

Glad at heart,
the reverend Ānanda rejoiced in what the Lord had said.


[1] To avoid taking life, in obtaining his potter's earth.

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