Ja 6 Devadhammajātaka
The Birth Story about Righteousness (1s)
In the present a rich man ordains in the Saṅgha, and makes sure he has all provisions for his life. The Buddha tells a story of three princes who go to the forest together, awaiting their father’s passing. While there a Water Rakkhasa captures two of the brothers when they cannot explain what is the true Deva-nature. The Bodhisatta explains it well though, and the brothers are released.
The Bodhisatta = the elder brother, prince Mahisāsa (jeṭṭhakabhātā mahisāsakumāro),
Ānanda = prince Suriya (Sūriyakumāra),
Sāriputta = prince Canda (Candakumāra),
the wealthy monk = Water Rakkhasa (Dakarakkhasa).
Present and Past Compare: Dhp-a X.8 Bahubhaṇḍikabhikkhu.
Keywords: Faithfulness, Righteousness, Devas.
“Endowed with conscience and concern.” This story was told by the Fortunate One while at Jetavana, about a wealthy monk.
Tradition tells us that, on the death of his wife, a householder of Sāvatthi joined the Saṅgha. When he was joining, he caused to be built for himself a chamber to live in, a room for the fire, and a store-room; and not till he had stocked his store-room with ghee, rice, and the like, did he finally join. Even after he had become a monk, he used to send for his servants and make them cook him what he liked to eat. He was richly provided with the requisites, i.e. an alms-bowl, three cloths, a girdle, a razor, a needle and a water-strainer. having an entire change of clothing for night and another for day; and he dwelt aloof on the outskirts of the monastery.
One day when he had taken out his cloths and bedding and had spread them out to dry in his chamber, a number of monks from the country, who were on a pilgrimage from monastery to monastery, I take this to be the meaning of senāsanacārikā, in contradistinction to the ordinary cārikā in which the destination was uncertain and in which alms were received from the laity. came in their journeying to his cell and found all these belongings.
“Whose are these?” they asked. “Mine, sirs,” he replied. “What, sir?” they cried, “this upper-cloth and that as well; this under-robe as well as that; and that bedding too, is it all yours?” “Yes, nobody’s but mine.” “Sir,” they said, “the Fortunate One has only sanctioned three cloths; and yet, though the Buddha, to whose dispensation you have devoted yourself, is so simple in his wants, you forsooth have amassed all this stock of requisites. Come! We must take you before the One with Ten Powers.” And, so saying, they went off with him to the Teacher.
Becoming aware of their presence, the Teacher said,
Angered by the Teacher’s words, he cried, “Then I’ll go about like this!” And, flinging off his outer clothing, he stood in their midst clad only in his waist-cloth.
Then, as a moral support to him, the Teacher said: “Was it not you, monk, who in bygone days were a seeker after the shamefacedness that fears wrong, and even when you were a Water Rakkhasa lived for twelve years seeking after that shamefacedness? How then comes it that, after vowing to follow the weighty dispensation of the Buddha, you have flung off your outer robes and stand here devoid of shame?”
At the Teacher’s word, his sense of shame was restored; he donned his robes again, and, saluting the Teacher, seated himself at the side.
The monks having asked the Fortunate One to explain to them the matter he had mentioned, the Fortunate One made clear what had been concealed from them by rebirth.
In the past Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares in Kāsi. The Bodhisatta, having come to birth in those days as the king’s son by the queen, was duly named prince Mahiṁsāsa. By the time he could run about, a second son was born to the king, and the name they gave this child was Candakumāra [prince Moon]; but by the time he could run about, the Bodhisatta’s mother died. Then the king took another queen, who was his joy and delight; and their love was crowned with the birth of yet another prince, whom they named Sūriyakumāra [prince Sun]. In his joy at the birth of the boy, the king promised to grant her any boon she might ask on the child’s behalf. But the queen treasured up the promise to be fulfilled at her own good time hereafter. Later, when her son had grown up, she said to the king, “Sire, when my boy was born, you granted me a boon to ask for him. Let him be king.”
“Nay,” said the king, “two sons have I, radiant as flaming fires; I cannot give the kingdom to your son.” But when he saw that, undaunted by this refusal, the queen kept plaguing him time after time, to grant her request,
As the princes were leaving the palace after their adieux to their father, who should see them but Sūriyakumāra himself, who was playing in the courtyard? And no sooner did he learn what was the matter than he made up his mind to go with his brothers. So he too went off in their company.
The three came to the region of the Himālayas; and here the Bodhisatta, who had turned aside from the road and was sitting at the foot of a tree, said to Sūriyakumāra, “Run down to the pool yonder, Sūriya dear; drink and bathere; and then bring us too some water back in a lotus-leaf.”
(Now that pool had been delivered over to a certain Water Rakkhasa by Vessavaṇa, This is another name for Kuvera, the Hindu Plutus, half-brother of Rāvaṇa, the demon-king of Ceylon in the Rāmāyaṇa. As appears from Jātaka No. 74, Vessavaṇa had rule over tree devatās as well as water devatās, holding his office from Sakka. who said to him, “With the exception of such as know what is truly god-like, all that go down into this pool are yours to devour. Over those that do not enter the waters, you have no power granted to you.” And thenceforth the Water Rakkhasa used to ask all who went down into the pool what was the true Deva-nature, devouring everyone who did not know.)
Now it was into this pool that Sūriyakumāra went down, quite unsuspiciously, with the result that he was seized by the Water Rakkhasa, who said to him, “Do you know what is the true Deva-nature?” “O yes,” said he, “the sun and moon.” “You don’t know,” said the monster, and hauling the prince down into the depths of the water, imprisoned him there in his own abode. Finding that his brother was a long time gone, the Bodhisatta sent Candakumāra. He too was seized by the Water Rakkhasa and asked whether he knew what was the true Deva-nature. “Oh yes, I know,” said he, “the four quarters of heaven are.” “You don’t know,” said the Water Rakkhasa as he hauled this second victim off to the same prison-house.
Finding that this second brother too tarried long, the Bodhisatta felt sure that something had happened to them. So away he went after them and tracked their footsteps down into the water.
“I should like to begin,” said the Bodhisatta, “but I am travel-stained with my journey.” Then the Water Rakkhasa bathed the Bodhisatta, and gave him food to eat and water to drink, decked him with flowers, sprinkled him with scents, and laid out a couch for him in the midst of a gorgeous pavilion. Seating himself on this couch, and making the Water Rakkhasa sit at his feet, the Bodhisatta said: “Listen then and you shall hear what the the true Deva-nature is.” And he repeated this verse:
1. Hiri-ottappasampannā, sukkadhammasamāhitā,
Santo sappurisā loke Devadhammā ti vuccare ti.
Endowed with conscience and concern, having an unsullied nature, those virtuous and good people in the world are said to have Deva-nature.
And when the Yakkha heard this, he was pleased, and said to the Bodhisatta, “Man of wisdom, I am pleased with you, and give you up one of your brothers. Which shall I bring?” “The youngest.” “Man of wisdom, though you know so well what the the true Deva-nature is, you don’t act on your knowledge.” “How so?” “Why, you take the younger in preference to the elder, without regard to his seniority.” “I not only know, but practise, the true Deva-nature. It was on this boy’s account that we sought refuge in the forest; it was for him that his mother asked the kingdom from our father, and our father, refusing to fulfil her demand, consented to our flight to the refuge of the forest. With us came this boy, nor ever thought of turning back again. Not a soul would believe me if I were to give out that he had been devoured by a Rakkhasa in the forest; and it is the fear of odium that impels me to demand him at your hands.”
“Excellent! Excellent! O man of wisdom,” cried the Rakkhasa in approval, “you not only know, but practise, the true Deva-nature.”
Then said the latter to the Water Rakkhasa, “Friend, it is in consequence of your own evil deeds in times past that you have now been born a Rakkhasa subsisting on the flesh and blood of other living creatures; and in this present birth too you are continuing to do evil. This evil conduct
Having worked the Rakkhasa’s conversion, the Bodhisatta continued to dwell at that spot under his protection, until one day he read in the stars that his father was dead. Then taking the Water Rakkhasa with him, he returned to Benares and took possession of the kingdom, making Candakumāra his viceroy and Sūriyakumāra his generalissimo. For the Water Rakkhasa he made a home in a pleasant spot and took measures to ensure his being provided with the choicest garlands, flowers, and food. He himself ruled in righteousness until he passed away to fare according to his deeds.
His lesson ended, the Teacher preached the Truths, at the close whereof that monk won the Fruit of the First Path. And the All-knowing Buddha, having told the two stories, made the connection linking the two together, and identified the Jātaka, by saying: “The well-to-do monk was the Water Rakkhasa of those days; Ānanda was Sūriyakumāra, Sāriputta was Candakumāra, and I myself the eldest brother, prince Mahiṁsāsa.”
last updated: August 2023