Ja 65 Anabhiratijātaka
The Story about Discontent (1s)

In the present a lay brother is absent from attendance on the Buddha for a while after finding his wife is unfaithful. The Buddha explains that this is the nature of women, and shows how the same thing happened to the pair of them in a past life.

The Bodhisatta = the brahmin teacher (ācariyabrāhmaṇa),
the husband and wife = the same in the past (jayampatikā).

Keywords: Faithfulness, Women.

“Like highways.” This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana, about just such another lay brother as the last. This man, when on enquiry he assured himself of his wife’s misconduct, came to words with her, with the result that he was so upset that for seven or eight days he failed in his attendance. One day he came to the monastery, made his bow to the Tathāgata and took his seat. Being asked why he had been absent for seven or eight days, he replied, “Sir, my wife has committed adultery, and I have been so upset about her that I did not come.”

“Lay brother,” said the Teacher, “long ago the wise and good told you not to be angered at the naughtiness found in women, but to preserve your equanimity this, however, you have forgotten, because a multitude of rebirths has hidden it from you.” And so saying, he told – at that lay brother’s request – this story of the past.

In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was a teacher of world-wide reputation, as in the foregoing story. And a pupil of his, finding his wife unfaithful, was so affected by the discovery that he stayed away for some days, but being asked one day by his teacher what was the reason of his absence, he made a clean breast of it. Then said his teacher, “My son, there is no private property in women: they are common to all. {1.302} And therefore wise men knowing [1.161] their frailty, are not excited to anger against them.” And so saying, he repeated this verse for his pupil’s edification:

1. “Like highways, rivers, courtyards, hostelries,
Or taverns, which to all alike extend
One universal hospitality,
Is womankind; and wise men never stoop
To wrath at frailty in a sex so frail.”

Such was the instruction which the Bodhisatta imparted to his pupil, who thenceforward grew indifferent to what women did. And as for his wife, she was so changed by hearing that the teacher knew what she was, that she gave up her naughtiness thenceforth.

So too that lay brother’s wife, when she heard that the Teacher knew what she was, gave up her naughtiness thenceforth.

His lesson ended, the Teacher preached the Truths, at the close whereof the lay brother won the Fruit of the First Path. Also the Teacher showed the connection and identified the Jātaka by saying: “This husband and wife were also the husband and wife of those days, and I myself the brahmin teacher.”