Ja 104 Mittavindajātaka
The Story about (the Merchant) Mittavindaka (1s)

Alternative Title: Mittavindakajātaka (Cst)

In the present the monk Losaka is very unfortunate but still becomes an Arahat. The Buddha tells a story of his good and bad deeds in the past, which ended up with him suffering torture.

The Bodhisatta = the Devaputta (Devaputta),
the disobedient monk = Mittavindaka.

Past Compare: Ja 41 Losaka, Ja 82 Mittavinda, Ja 104 Mittavinda, Ja 369 Mittavinda, Ja 439 Catudvāra.

Keywords: Greed, Insatiety, Devas.

“From four to eight.” [1.246] This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana, concerning an unruly monk. The incidents are the same as those in the previous story of Mittavindaka, [The past life story about the churning of his head, which is essential to the story here, is told in Ja 439 below. I include the story here.] but belong to the days of the Buddha Kassapa. {1.414}

In the past, in the days of Kassapa, the One with Ten Powers, there dwelt in Benares a merchant, whose wealth was eighty crores of money, having a son named Mittavindaka. The mother and father of this lad had entered upon the First Path, but he was wicked, an unbeliever.

When by and by the father was dead and gone, the mother, who in his stead managed their property, thus said to her son, “My son, the state of man is one hard to attain; give alms, practise virtue, keep the holy day, give ear to the Dhamma.” Then said he, “Mother, no almsgiving or such like for me; never name them to me; as I live, so shall I fare hereafter.” On a certain full-moon holy day, as he spoke in this fashion, his mother answered, “Son, this day is set apart as a high holy day. Today take upon you the holy day vows; visit the cloister, and all night long listen to the Dhamma, and when you come back I will give you a thousand pieces of money.”

For desire of this money the son consented. As soon as he had broken his fast he went to the monastery, and there he spent the day; but at night, to ensure that not one word of the Dhamma should reach his ear, he lay down in a certain place, and fell asleep. On the next day, very early in the morning, he washed his face, and went to his own house and sat down.

Now the mother thought within herself, “Today my son after hearing the Dhamma will come back early in the morning, bringing with him the elder who has preached the Dhamma.” So she made ready gruel, and food hard and soft, and prepared a seat, and awaited his coming. When she saw her son coming all alone, “Son,” said she, “why have you not brought the preacher with you?” “No preacher for me, mother!” says he. “Here then,” said the woman, “you drink this gruel.” “You promised me a thousand pieces, mother,” he says, “first give this to me, and afterward I will drink.” “Drink first, my son, and then you shall have the money.” Said he, “No, I will not drink till I get the money.” Then his mother laid before him a purse of a thousand pieces. And he drank the gruel, took the purse with a thousand pieces, and went about his business; and so thereafter, until in no long time he had gained two million.

Then it came into his mind that he would equip a ship, and do business with it. So he equipped a ship, and said to his mother, “Mother, I mean to do business in this ship.” Said she, “You are my only son, and in this house there is plenty of wealth; the sea is full of dangers. Do not go!” But he said: “Go I will, and you cannot prevent me.” “Yes, I will prevent you,” she answered, and took hold of his hand; but he thrust her hand away, and struck her down, and in a moment he was gone, and under way.

On the seventh day, because of Mittavindaka, the ship stood immovable upon the deep. Lots were cast, and thrice was the lot found in the hand of Mittavindaka. Then they gave him a raft; and saying: “Let not many perish for the sole sake of this one,” they cast him adrift upon the deep. In an instant the ship sprang forth with speed over the deep.

And he upon his raft came to a certain island. There in a crystal palace he espied four female spirits of the dead. They used to be in woe seven days and seven in happiness. In their company he experienced bliss divine. Then, when the time came for them to undergo their penance, they said: “Master, we are going to leave you for seven days; while we are gone, bide here, and be not distressed.” So saying they departed.

But he, full of longing, again embarked upon his raft, and passing over the ocean came to another isle; there in a palace of silver he saw eight other spirits. In the same way, he saw upon another island, sixteen in a palace all of jewels, and on yet another, thirty-two that were in a golden hall. With these, as before, he dwelt in divine blessedness, and when they went away to their penance, sailed away once more over the ocean; till at last he beheld a city with four gates, surrounded by a wall. That, they say, is the Ussada hell, the place where many beings, condemned to hell, endure their own deeds: but to Mittavindaka it appeared as though a beautiful city. He thought: “I will visit that city, and be its king.”

So he entered, and there he saw a being in torment, supporting a wheel sharp as a razor; but to Mittavindaka it seemed as though that razor-wheel upon his head were a lotus bloom; the five-fold fetters upon his breast seemed as it were a splendid and rich vesture; the blood dripping from his head seemed to be the perfumed powder of red sandalwood; the sound of groaning was as the sound of sweetest song. So approaching he said: “Hey, man! Long enough you have been carrying that lotus flower; now give it to me!” He replied, “My lord, no lotus it is, but a razor-wheel.” “Ah,” said the first, “so you say because you do not wish to give it.” Thought the condemned wretch, “My past deeds must be exhausted. No doubt this fellow, like me, is here for smiting his mother. Well, I will give him the razor-wheel.” Then he said: “Here then, take the lotus,” and with those words he cast the razor-wheel upon his head; and on his head it fell, crushing it in. In an instant Mittavindaka knew then that it was a razor-wheel, and he said: “Take your wheel, take back your wheel!” groaning aloud in his pain; but the other had disappeared.

Now at that time one of the damned who had put on the circlet and was suffering the tortures of hell, asked the Bodhisatta, “Lord, what defilements have I committed?” The Bodhisatta detailed the man’s evil deeds to him and uttered this verse:

1. “From four to eight, to sixteen thence, and so
To thirty-two insatiate greed does go,
Still pressing on till insatiety
Does win the circlet’s grinding misery.” Part of these lines occur in the Pañcatantra 98.

So saying he went back to the Realm of Devas, but the other lived in hell till his defilements had been purged from him. Then he passed thence to fare according to his deeds.

His lesson ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka by saying: “This unruly monk was then Mittavindaka and I the Devaputta.”