Ja 84 Atthassadvārajātaka
The Birth Story about the Doors to Welfare (1s)

In the present a precocious youth seeks his spiritual welfare. The Buddha tells how he did the same in a previous life, and what advice the Bodhisatta had given him then, as now.

The Bodhisatta = the great wealthy man (mahāseṭṭhi),
the son = the same in the past (putta).

Keywords: Skill, Wisdom, Youth.

“Desire good health, which is the greatest gain.” [1.211] {1.366} This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana, about a boy who was sage in matters relating to spiritual welfare. When he was only seven years old, the boy, who was the son of a very wealthy Treasurer, manifested great intelligence and anxiety for his spiritual welfare; and one day came to his father to ask what were the Paths leading to spiritual welfare. The father could not answer, but he thought to himself, “This is a very difficult question; from highest heaven to nethermost hell there is none that can answer it, save only the All-knowing Buddha.” So he took the child with him to Jetavana, with a quantity of perfumes and flowers and unguents. After arriving there, he did reverence to the Teacher, bowed down before him, and seating himself on one side, spoke as follows to the Fortunate One, “Sir, this boy of mine, who is intelligent and anxious for his spiritual welfare, has asked me what are the Paths leading to spiritual welfare; and, as I did not know, I came to you. Vouchsafe, O Fortunate One, to resolve this question.” “Lay brother,” said the Teacher, “this self-same question was asked me by this very child in former times, and I answered it for him. He knew the answer in bygone days, but now he has forgotten because of a multitude of rebirths.” Then, at the father’s request, he told this story of the past.

In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was a very wealthy Treasurer; and he had a son who, when only seven years old, manifested great intelligence and anxiety for his spiritual welfare. One day the child came to his father to ask what were the Paths leading to spiritual welfare. And his father answered him by repeating this verse:

1. Ārogyam-icche, paramañ-ca lābhaṁ,
Sīlañ-ca vuddhānumataṁ sutañ-ca,
Dhammānuvattī ca alīnatā ca:
Atthassa dvārā pamukhā chaḷete ti.

Desire good health, which is the greatest gain, virtue, approval by elders, learning, conformity to the Dhamma, striving: these six gateways are the entrance to welfare. {1.367}

In this wise did the Bodhisatta answer his son’s question as to the Paths that lead to spiritual welfare; and the boy from that time forward followed those six rules. After a life spent in generosity and other good works, the Bodhisatta passed away to fare thereafter according to his deeds.

His lesson ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka by saying: “This child was also the child of those days, and I myself the Lord Treasurer.”