Ja 95 Mahāsudassanajātaka For the evolution of this Jātaka, see DN 16 Mahāparinibbānasutta and DN 17 Mahāsudassanasutta, translated by Prof. Rhys Davids in his volume of “Buddhist Suttas.”
The Birth Story about (King) Mahāsudassana (1s)
In the present the Buddha is coming to the end of his life, and chooses to pass away in Kusinārā, a small town that had been great in the past, but was now in decline. He tells the story of a past life when he was a great king who also choose to pass away in the very same town.
The Bodhisatta = (king) Mahāsudassana,
Rāhulamātā = queen Subhaddā (Subhaddādevī),
Rāhula = the leader’s jewel (of a son) (pariṇāyakaratana),
the Buddha’s disciples = the rest of the cast (sesaparisā).
Past Compare: DN 17 Mahāsudassanasutta, Cp 4 Mahāsudassanacariyā.
Keywords: Impermanence, Emancipation.
“Things are impermanent.” This story was told by the Teacher as he lay on his death-bed, concerning Ānanda’s words, “O Fortunate One, suffer not your end to be in this sorry little town.”
“When the Tathāgata was dwelling at Jetavana,” thought the Teacher, “the elder Sāriputta, who was born in Nāla village, died at Varaka in the month of Kattikā, when the moon was at the full; and in the self-same month, when the
“Nay, Ānanda,” said the Teacher, “call not this a sorry little town, a rough little town in the jungle, a little suburban town. In bygone days, in the days of Sudassana’s Universal Monarchy, it was in this town that I had my dwelling. It was then a mighty city encompassed by jewelled walls
Then it was that Sudassana’s queen Subhaddā marked how, after coming down from the Palace of Dhamma, her lord was lying nearby on his right side on the couch prepared for him in the reed-grove See pp. 267 and 277 of Vol. xi. of the Sacred Books of the East for this reed-grove. which was all of gold and jewels – that couch from which he was not to rise again. And she said: “Eighty-four thousand cities, chief of which is the royal-city of Kusāvatī, own your sovereignty, sire. Set your heart on them.”
“Say not so, my queen,” said Sudassana, “rather exhort me, saying, ‘Keep your heart set on this town, and yearn not after those others.’ ” “Why so, my lord?” “Because I shall die today,” answered the king.
In tears, wiping her streaming eyes, the queen managed to sob out the words the king bade her say. Then she broke into weeping and lamentation; and the other women of the harem, to the number of eighty-four thousand, also wept and wailed; nor could any of the courtiers forbear, but all alike joined in one universal lament.
“Peace!” said the Bodhisatta; and at his word their lamentation was stilled. Then, turning to the queen, he said: “Weep not, my queen, nor wail. For, even down to a tiny seed of sesamum, there is no such thing as a compounded thing which is permanent; all are transient, all must break up.” Then, for the queen’s behoof, he uttered this verse:
1. Aniccā vata saṅkhārā, uppādavayadhammino,
Uppajjitvā nirujjhanti, tesaṁ vūpasamo sukho ti.
Things are impermanent, their nature is arising and decay, after arising they cease, the stilling of them is happiness.
Thus did the great Sudassana lead his discourse up to ambrosial Nibbāna as its goal. Moreover, to the rest of the multitude he gave the exhortation to be charitable, to obey the Precepts, and to keep hallowed the fast days. The destiny he won was to be reborn thereafter in the Realm of Devas.
His lesson ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka by saying: “The mother of Rāhula This is the general style in the canon of the wife of Gotama the Buddha. cf. Oldenberg’s Vinaya, Vol. i. page 82, and the translation in Sacred Books of the East, Vol. xiii. p. 208. It is not however correct to say that the Vinaya passage is “the only passage in the Pāli Piṭakas which mentions this lady.” For she is mentioned in the Buddhavaṁsa (PTS edition, page 65), and her name is there given as Bhaddakaccā. was the queen Subhaddā of those days; Rāhula was the king’s eldest son; the disciples of the Buddha were his courtiers; and I myself the great Sudassana.”
last updated: August 2023