Ja 63 Takkajātaka
The Story about the Buttermilk Salesman (1s)

Alternative Title: Takkapaṇḍitajātaka (Cst)

In the present one monk was besieged by lust. The Buddha told a past life story in which a woman brought down an ascetic from his high estate, and later sought to have him killed so that her life with a thief might be secured. When her treachery was discovered it led to her death.

The Bodhisatta = the wise buttermilk salesman (takkapaṇḍita),
Ānanda = the elder thief (corajeṭṭhaka).

Keywords: Treachery, Lust, Women.

“Wrathful are women.” This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana, about another monk overcome by passion. When on being questioned the monk confessed that he was overcome by passion, the Teacher said: “Women are ingrates and treacherous; why are you overcome by passion because of them?” And he told this story of the past. [1.156]

In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta, who had chosen an ascetic’s life, built himself a hermitage by the banks of the Ganges, and there won the Super Knowledges and Attainments, and so dwelt in the bliss and delight of Absorption.

In those days the Lord High Treasurer of Benares had a fierce and cruel daughter, known as lady Caṇḍā [Wicked], who used to revile and beat her servants and slaves. And one day they took their young mistress {1.296} to disport herself in the Ganges; and the girls were playing about in the water, when the sun set and a great storm burst upon them. Hereon folks scampered away, and the girl’s attendants, exclaiming, “Now is the time to see the last of this creature!” threw her right into the river and hurried off. Down poured the rain in torrents, the sun set, and darkness came on. And when the attendants reached home without their young mistress, and were asked where she was, they replied that she had got out of the Ganges but that they did not know where she had gone. Search was made by her family, but not a trace of the missing girl could be found.

Meantime she, screaming loudly, was swept down by the swollen stream, and at midnight approached where the Bodhisatta dwelt in his hermitage. Hearing her cries, he thought to himself, “That’s a woman’s voice. I must rescue her from the water.” So he took a torch of grass and by its light descried her in the stream. “Don’t be afraid; don’t be afraid!” he shouted cheerily, and waded in, and, thanks to his vast strength, as of an elephant, brought her safe to land. Then he made a fire for her in his hermitage and set luscious fruits of divers kinds before her. Not till she had eaten did he ask, “Where is your home, and how came you to fall in the river?” And the girl told him all that had befallen her. “Dwell here for the present,” said he, and installed her in his hermitage, while for the next two or three days he himself lived in the open air. At the end of that time he bade her depart, but she was set on waiting till she had made the ascetic fall in love with her; and would not go. And as time went by, she so wrought on him by her womanly grace and wiles that he lost his Absorption. With her he continued to dwell in the forest. But she did not like living in that solitude and wanted to be taken among people. So yielding to her importunities he took her away with him to a border village, where he supported her by selling dates, and so was called the Date Sage. There is a play here upon the word takka, which cannot well be rendered in English. The word takkapaṇḍito, which I have rendered ‘Date Sage,’ would – by itself – mean ‘Logic Sage,’ whilst his living was got takkaṁ vikkinitvā ‘by selling dates.’ There is the further difficulty that the latter phrase may equally well mean ‘by selling buttermilk.’ And the villagers paid [1.157] him to teach them what were lucky and unlucky seasons, and gave him a hut to live in at the entrance to their village.

Now the border was harried by robbers from the mountains; and they made a raid one day {1.297} on the village where the pair lived, and looted it. They made the poor villagers pack up their belongings, and off they went – with the Treasurer’s daughter among the rest – to their own abodes. After arriving there, they let everybody else go free; but the girl, because of her beauty, was taken to wife by the robber chieftain.

And when the Bodhisatta learned this, he thought to himself, “She will not endure to live away from me. She will escape and come back to me.” And so he lived on, waiting for her to return. She meantime was very happy with the robbers, and only feared that the Date Sage would come to carry her away again. “I should feel more secure,” thought she, “if he were dead. I must send a message to him feigning love and so entice him here to his death.” So she sent a messenger to him with the message that she was unhappy, and that she wanted him to take her away.

And he, in his faith in her, set out forthwith, and came to the entrance of the robbers’ village, whence be sent a message to her. “To fly now, my husband,” said she, “would only be to fall into the robber chieftain’s hands who would kill us both. Let us put off our flight till night.” So she took him and hid him in a room; and when the robber came home at night and was inflamed with strong drink, she said to him, “Tell me, love, what would you do if your rival were in your power?”

And he said he would do this and that to him.

“Perhaps he is not so far away as you think,” said she. “He is in the next room.”

Seizing a torch, the robber rushed in and seized the Bodhisatta and beat him about the head and body to his heart’s content. Amid the blows the Bodhisatta made no cry, only murmuring, “Cruel ingrates! Slanderous traitors!” And this was all he said. And when he had thus beaten, bound, and laid by the heels the Bodhisatta, the robber finished his supper, and lay down to sleep. In the morning, when he had slept off his night’s debauch, he fell anew to beating the Bodhisatta, who still made no cry but kept repeating the same four words. And the robber was struck with this and asked why, even when beaten, he kept saying that. {1.298}

“Listen,” said the Date Sage, “and you shall hear. Once I was an ascetic dwelling in the solitude of the forest, and there I won Insight. And I rescued this woman from the Ganges and helped her in her need, and by her allurements fell from my high estate. Then I quit the forest and supported her in a village, whence she was carried off by robbers. And she sent me a message that she was unhappy, entreating [1.158] me to come and take her away. Now she has made me fall into your hands. That is why I thus exclaim.”

This set the robber to thinking again, and he thought: “If she can feel so little for one who is so good and has done so much for her, what injury would she not do to me? She must die.” So having reassured the Bodhisatta and having awakened the woman, he set out sword in hand, pretending to her that he was about to kill him outside the village. Then bidding her hold the Date Sage he drew his sword, and, making as though to kill the sage, clove the woman in twain. Then he bathed the Date Sage from head to foot and for several days fed him with dainties to his heart’s content.

“Where do you purpose to go now?” said the robber at last.

“The world,” answered the sage, “has no pleasures for me. I will become an ascetic once more and dwell in my former habitation in the forest.”

“And I too will become an ascetic,” exclaimed the robber. So both became ascetics together, and dwelt in the hermitage in the forest, where they won the Super Knowledges and Attainments, and qualified themselves when life ended to enter the Realm of Brahmā.

After telling these two stories, the Teacher showed the connection, by reciting, after Fully Awakening, this verse:

1. “Wrathful are women, slanderers, ingrates,
The sowers of dissension and fell strife!
Then, monk, tread you the path of holiness,
And bliss therein you shall not fail to find.” {1.299}

His lesson ended, the Teacher preached the Truths, at the close whereof the monk overcome by passion won the Fruit of the First Path. Also, the Teacher identified the Jātaka by saying: “Ānanda was the robber-chief of those days, and I myself the Date Sage.”