Ja 10 Sukhavihārijātaka
The Birth Story about the One who lives Happily (1s)
In the present a monk, who was previously a king, expresses his satisfaction with his way of life. This is taken as boasting by the monks, and he is taken to the Buddha, who explains that in a previous life also he had expressed his happiness with the ascetic life, and tells his story.
The Bodhisatta = the teacher of the group (gaṇasatthā),
Bhaddiya = his disciple (antevāsika).
Present Compare: Vin Cv 7 (2.182).
Keywords: Renunciation, Contentment.
“He who others do not guard.”
The venerable Bhaddiya, who used in the days of his royalty to guard himself as though he were appointed his own tutelary deity, bethought him of the state of fear in which he then lived when he was being guarded by numerous guards and when he used to toss about even on his royal couch in his private apartments high up in the palace; and with this he compared the absence of fear in which, now that he was an Arahat, he roamed here and there in forests and desert places. And at the thought he burst into this exalted utterance, “Oh, happiness! Oh, happiness!”
This the monks reported to the Fortunate One, saying: “The venerable Bhaddiya is declaring the bliss he has won.”
“Monks,” said the Fortunate One, “this is not the first time that Bhaddiya’s life has been happy; his life was no less happy in bygone days.”
The monks asked the Fortunate One to explain this. The Fortunate One made clear what had been concealed from them by rebirth.
In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born a wealthy northern brahmin. Realising the evil of sensual desire and the blessings that flow from renouncing the world, he abjured sensual desire, and retiring to the Himālayas there became an ascetic and won the eight Attainments. His following waxed great, amounting to five hundred ascetics. Once when the rains set in, he quit the Himālayas and travelling along on an alms pilgrimage with his attendant ascetics through village and town came at last to Benares, where he lived in the royal pleasure gardens supported by the king’s bounty. After dwelling there for the four rainy months, he came to the king to take his leave. But the king said to him, “You are old, venerable sir. Wherefore should you go back to the Himālayas? Send your pupils back there
The Bodhisatta entrusted his five hundred ascetics to the care of his oldest disciple, saying: “Go you with these to the Himālayas; I will stop on here.”
Now that oldest disciple had once been a king, but had given up a mighty kingdom to become a monk; by focusing on the Meditation Object he had mastered the eight Attainments. As he dwelt with the ascetics in the Himālayas, one day a longing came upon him to see the master, and he said to his fellows, “Live on contentedly here; I will come back as soon as I have paid my respects to the master.” So away he went to the master, paid his respects to him, and greeted him lovingly. Then he lay down by the side of his master on a mat which he spread there.
At this point appeared the king, who had come to the pleasure gardens to see the ascetic; and with a salutation he took his seat on one side. But though he was aware of the king’s presence, that oldest disciple forbore to rise, but still lay there, uttering this exalted utterance, “Oh, happiness! Oh, happiness!”
Displeased that the ascetic, though he had seen him, had not risen, the king said to the Bodhisatta, “Venerable sir, this ascetic must have had his fill to eat, seeing that he continues to lie there so happily, uttering this exalted utterance.”
“Sire,” said the Bodhisatta, “of old this ascetic was a king as you are. He is thinking how in the old days when he was a layman and
1. Yañ-ca aññe na rakkhanti, yo ca aññe na rakkhati,
Sa ve rāja sukhaṁ seti, kāmesu anapekkhavā ti.
He who others do not guard, also he who does not guard others, lives easily, king, not having desire for sensual pleasures.
Appeased by the lesson thus taught him, the king made his salutation and returned to his palace. The disciple also took his leave of his master and returned to the Himālayas. But the Bodhisatta continued to dwell on there, and, dying with Absorption full and unbroken, was reborn in the Realm of Brahma.
His lesson ended, and the two stories told, the Teacher showed the connection linking them both together, and identified the Jātaka by saying: “The elder Bhaddiya was the disciple of those days, and I myself the teacher of the company of ascetics.”
last updated: August 2023