Ja 49 Nakkhattajātaka
The Birth Story about the Constellations (1s)
In the present a family agrees to marry their son off and picks a day, then asks their family ascetic if it is auspicious. Peeved that they didn’t consult him before setting the day, he tells them it is inauspicious. The other family, disappointed on the day, marry her off to another. The Buddha hearing of it, tells how the same thing had happened to the same people in a past life.
The Bodhisatta = the wise man (paṇḍitapurisa),
the ascetic = the same in the past (ājīvaka),
the families = the same in the past (kulāni).
Keywords: Foolishness, Bad advice.
“While waiting on his lucky stars.”
“He didn’t ask me in the first instance,” thought the indignant ascetic, “but having already fixed the day, without consulting me, just makes an empty
Next day the country party came to fetch the bride. But the Sāvatthi people rated them as follows, “You country folk are a bad lot; you fixed the day yourselves, and then insulted us by not coming. We have given the maiden to another.” The country party started a quarrel, but in the end went home the way they came.
Now the monks came to know how that naked ascetic had thwarted the festivity, and they began to talk the matter over in the Dhamma Hall. Entering the Hall, and learning on enquiry the subject of their conversation, the Teacher said: “Monks, this is not the first time that this same ascetic has thwarted the festivities of that family; out of pique with them, he did just the same thing once before.” And so saying, he told this story of the past.
In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, some townsfolk had asked a country-girl in marriage and had named the day. Having already made the arrangement, they asked their family ascetic whether the stars were propitious for the ceremony on that day. Piqued at their having fixed the day to suit themselves without first taking counsel with him, the ascetic made up his mind to thwart their marriage festivities for that day;
Next day the townsfolk came and asked for the girl; but they of the country made this answer, “You townsfolk lack common decency. You yourselves named the day and yet did not come to fetch the bride. As you stayed away, we married her to someone else.” “But we asked our ascetic, and he told us the stars were unfavourable. That’s why we did not come, yesterday. Give us the girl.” “You didn’t come at the proper time, and now she’s another’s. How can we marry her twice over?” While they wrangled thus with one another, a wise man from the town came into the country on business. Hearing the townsfolk explain that they had consulted their ascetic and that their absence was due to the unfavourable disposition of the stars, he exclaimed, “What, forsooth, do
1. Nakkhattaṁ patimānentaṁ attho bālaṁ upaccagā,
Attho atthassa nakkhattaṁ, kiṁ karissanti tārakā ti?
While waiting on his lucky stars, benefit passes the fool by, benefit is benefit’s lucky star, what can the stars achieve?
As for the townsfolk, as they did not get the girl for all their wrangling, they had to go off home again!
Said the Teacher, “This is not the first time, monks, that this naked ascetic has thwarted that family’s festivities; he did just the same thing in bygone times also.” His lesson ended, he showed the connection and identified the Jātaka by saying: “This ascetic
last updated: August 2023