Ja 7 Kaṭṭhahārijātaka
The Birth Story about the Wood Gatherer (1s)
In the present the king of Kosala, learning of the low birth of his queen, rejected her, and her son. The Buddha convinces him otherwise, and tells a story of the past where he had been born of a king and claimed his rightful place at court.
The Bodhisatta = the king (of Benares) Kaṭṭhavāhana (wooden vehicle) (Kaṭṭhavāhanarājā),
the great king Suddhodana = his father (pitā),
Mahāmāyā = his mother (mātā)
Present Source: Ja 7 Kaṭṭhahārijātaka,
Present Compare: Ja 465 Bhaddasālajātaka,
Quoted at: Ja 22 Kukkurajātaka, Ja 407 Mahākapijātaka.
“I am your son, great king.” This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana about the story of Vāsabhakhattiyā, which will be found in the Twelfth Book in the Bhaddasālajātaka [Ja 465]. Tradition tells us that she was the daughter of Mahānāma Sakka by a slave girl named Nāgamuṇḍā, and that she afterwards became the consort of the king of Kosala. She conceived a son by the king; but the king, coming to know of her servile origin, degraded her from her rank, and also degraded her son Viḍūḍabha. Mother and son never came outside the palace.
Hearing of this, the Teacher at early dawn came to the palace attended by five hundred monks,
Then the king told him what had happened.
“Sire, whose daughter is Vāsabhakhattiyā?” “Mahānāma’s daughter, sir.” “When she came away, to whom did she come as wife?” “To me, sir.” “Sire, she is a king’s daughter; to a king she is wed; and to a king she bore her
The king asked the Fortunate One to explain this. The Fortunate One made clear what had been concealed from him by rebirth.
In the past in Benares Brahmadatta the king, having gone in great state to his pleasure gardens, was roaming about looking for fruits and flowers when he came on a woman who was merrily singing away as she picked up sticks in the grove. Falling in love at first sight, the king became intimate with her, and the Bodhisatta was conceived then and there. Feeling as heavy within as though weighed down with the bolt of Sakka, the woman knew that she would become a mother, and told the king so. He gave her the signet-ring from his finger and dismissed her with these words, “If it be a girl, spend this ring on her nurture; but if it be a boy, bring ring and child to me.”
When the woman’s time was come, she bore the Bodhisatta. And when he could run about and was playing in the playground, a cry would arise, “No-father has hit me!” Hearing this, the Bodhisatta ran away to his mother and asked who his father was.
“You are the son of the king of Benares, my boy.” “What proof of this is there, mother?” “My son, the king on leaving me gave me this signet-ring and said, ‘If it be a girl, spend this ring on her nurture; but if it be a boy, bring ring and child to me.’ ” “Why then don’t you take me to my father, mother?”
Seeing that the boy’s mind was made up, she took him to the gate of the palace, and bade their coming be announced to the king. Being summoned in, she entered and bowing before his majesty said: “This is your son, sire.”
The king knew well enough that this was the truth, but shame before all his court made him reply, “He is no son of mine.” “But here is your signet-ring, sire; you will recognise that.” “Nor is this my signet-ring.” Then said the woman, “Sire, I have now no witness to prove my words, except to appeal to truth. 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.” So saying, she seized the Bodhisatta by the foot and threw him up into the air.
Seated cross-legged in mid-air, the Bodhisatta in sweet tones repeated this verse to his father, declaring the truth:
1. Putto tyāhaṁ mahārāja, tvaṁ maṁ posa janādhipa,
Aññe pi devo poseti, kiñ-ca devo sakaṁ pajan-ti?
I am your son, great king, you must support me, leader of men, the king supports others, so why not his own son?
Hearing the Bodhisatta thus teach the truth to him from mid-air, the king stretched out his hands and cried, “Come to me, my boy! None, none but me shall rear and nurture you!” A thousand hands were stretched out to receive the Bodhisatta;
His lesson to the king of Kosala ended, and his two stories told, the Teacher made the connection linking them both together, and identified the Jātaka by saying: “Mahāmāyā was the mother of those days, king Suddhodana was the father, and I myself king Kaṭṭhavāhana.”
last updated: August 2023