Ja 132 Pañcagarujātaka
The Birth Story about the Five Teachers (1s)
Alternative Title: Bhīrukajātaka (Cst)
In the present the monks discuss how the Buddha had resisted the daughters of Māra. The Buddha tells how he resisted a host of Yakkhinis in the past and thereby gained a kingdom.
The Bodhisatta = the prince who went to Taxila and gained a kingdom (Takkasilaṁ gantvā rajjappattakumāro).
Present Source: Ja 96 Telapatta,
Quoted at: Ja 132 Pañcagaru.
Keywords: Temptation, Renunciation, Devas.
“Skilful advice, with firm resolution.” This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana about the Sutta concerning the Temptation by the Daughters of Māra [The Palobhanasutta = SN 4.25, otherwise known as Māradhītusutta.] at the Goatherds’ Banyan tree. The Teacher quoted the Sutta, beginning with its opening words:
“In all their dazzling beauty on they came,
Craving and Hate and Lust. Like cotton-down
Before the wind, the Teacher made them fly.”
After he had recited the Sutta right through to the end, the monks met together in the Dhamma Hall and spoke of how the Daughters of Māra drew near in all their myriad charms yet failed to seduce the Fully Awakened One. For he did not as much as open his eyes to look upon them, so marvellous was he! Entering the hall, the Teacher asked, and was told, what they were discussing. “Monks,” said he, “it is no marvel that I did not so much as look upon the Daughters of Māra in this life when I have put wrong from me and have won Awakening. In former days when I was but in quest of Awakening, when wronging still dwelt within me, I found strength not to gaze even upon loveliness divine by way of lust in violation of virtue; and by that continence I won a kingdom.” So saying, he told this story of the past.
In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was the youngest of a hundred brothers, and his adventures are to be detailed here, as above
Now in those days there were Paccekabuddhas who used to come to take their meals at the palace, and the Bodhisatta ministered to them.
Thinking one day of the great number of brothers he had, the Bodhisatta asked himself whether there was any likelihood of his coming to the his father’s throne in that city, and determined to ask the Paccekabuddhas to tell him what should come to pass. Next day the Buddhas came, took the waterpot that was consecrated to holy uses, filtered the water, washed and dried their feet, and sat down to their meal. And as they sat, the Bodhisatta came and seating himself by them with a courteous salutation, put his question. And they answered and said: “Prince, you will never come to be king in this city. But in Gandhāra, two thousand leagues away, there stands the city of Taxila. If you can reach that city, in seven days you will become king there. But there is peril on the road there, in journeying through a great forest. It is double the distance round the forest than it is to pass through it. Amanussas have their dwelling therein, and Yakkhinis make villages and houses arise by the wayside. Beneath a goodly canopy embroidered with stars overhead, their magic sets a costly couch shut in by fair curtains of wondrous dye. Arranged in celestial splendour the Yakkhinis sit within their abodes, seducing wayfarers with honied words. ‘Weary you seem,’ they say; ‘come here, and eat and drink before you journey further on your way.’ Those that come at their bidding are given seats and fired to lust by the charm of their wanton beauty. But scarce have they sinned, before the Yakkhinis slay them and eat them while the warm blood is still flowing. And they ensnare men’s senses; captivating the sense of beauty with utter loveliness, the ear with sweet minstrelsy, the nostrils with heavenly odours, the taste with heavenly dainties of exquisite savour, and the touch with red-cushioned couches divinely soft. But if you can subdue your senses, and be strong in your resolve not to look upon them, then on the seventh day you will become king of the city of Taxila.”
“Oh, sirs; how could I look upon the Yakkhinis after your advice to me?” So saying, the Bodhisatta besought the Paccekabuddhas to give him something to keep him safe on his journey. Receiving from them a charmed thread and some charmed sand, he first bade farewell to the Paccekabuddhas and to his father and mother; and then, going to his own abode, he addressed his household as follows, “I am going to Taxila to make myself king there. You will stop behind here.” But five of them answered, “Let us go too.”
“You may not come with me,” answered the Bodhisatta, “for I am told that the way is beset by Yakkhinis who captivate men’s senses, and destroy those who succumb to their charms. Great is the danger, but I will rely on myself and go.”
“If we go with you, prince, we should not gaze upon their baleful charms. We too will go to Taxila.” “Then show yourselves steadfast,” said the Bodhisatta, and took those five with him on his journey.
The Yakkhinis sat waiting by the way in their villages. And one of the five, the lover of beauty, looked upon the Yakkhinis, and being ensnared by their beauty, lagged behind the rest. “Why are you dropping behind?” asked the Bodhisatta. “My feet hurt me, prince. I’ll just sit down for a bit in one of these pavilions, and then catch you up.” “My good man, these are Yakkhinis; don’t hanker after them.” “Be that as it may, prince, I can’t go any further.” “Well, you will soon be shown in your real colours,” said the Bodhisatta, as he went on with the other four.
Yielding to his senses, the lover of beauty drew near to the Yakkhinis, who tempted him to wrong, and killed him then and there. Thereon they departed, and further along the road raised by magic arts a new pavilion, in which they sat singing to the music of divers instruments. And now the lover of music dropped behind and was eaten. Then the Yakkhinis went on further and sat waiting in a bazaar stocked with all sweet scents and perfumes. And here the lover of sweet-smelling things fell behind. And when they had eaten him, they went on further and sat in a provision-booth where a profusion of heavenly viands of exquisite savour was offered for sale. And here the gourmet fell behind. And when they had eaten him, they went on further, and sat on heavenly couches wrought by their magic arts. And here the lover of comfort fell behind. And him too they ate.
Only the Bodhisatta was left now. And one of the Yakkhinis followed him, promising herself that for all his stern resolution she would succeed in devouring him before she turned back. Further on in the forest, woodmen and others, seeing the Yakkhini, asked her who the man was that walked on ahead.
“He is my husband, good gentlemen.”
“Hi, there!” said they to the Bodhisatta, “when you have got a sweet young wife, fair as the flowers, to leave her home and put her trust in you, why don’t you walk with her instead of letting her trudge wearily behind you?” “She is no wife of mine, but a Yakkhini. She has eaten my five companions.” “Alas, good gentlemen,” said she, “anger will drive men to say their very wives are Yakkhinis and Petas.”
Next, she simulated pregnancy and then the look of a woman who has borne one child; and child on hip, she followed after the Bodhisatta. Everyone they met asked just the same questions about the pair, and the Bodhisatta gave just the same answer as he journeyed on.
At last he came to Taxila, where the Yakkhini made the child disappear, and followed alone. At the gates of the city the Bodhisatta entered a rest house and sat down. Because of the Bodhisatta’s efficacy and power, she could not enter too; so she arrayed herself in divine beauty and stood on the threshold.
The king of Taxila was at that moment passing by on his way to his pleasure gardens, and was snared by her loveliness. “Go, find out,” said he to an attendant, “whether she has a husband with her or not.” And when the messenger came and asked whether she had a husband with her, she said: “Yes, sir; my husband is sitting within in the chamber.”
“She is no wife of mine,” said the Bodhisatta. “She is a Yakkhini and has eaten my five companions.”
And, as before, she said: “Alas, good gentlemen, anger will drive men to say anything that comes into their heads.”
Then the man went back to the king and told him what each had said. “Treasure-trove is a royal perquisite,” said the king. And he sent for the Yakkhini and had her seated on the back of his elephant. After a solemn procession round the city, the king came back to his palace and had the Yakkhini lodged in the apartments reserved for a queen-consort. After bathing and perfuming himself, the king ate his evening meal and then lay down on his royal bed. The Yakkhini too prepared herself a meal, and donned all her splendour. And as she lay by the side of the delighted king, she turned on to her side and burst into tears. Being asked why she wept, she said: “Sire, you found me by the wayside, and the women of the harem are many. Dwelling here among enemies I shall feel crushed when they say ‘Who knows who your father and mother are, or anything about your family? You were picked up by the wayside.’ But if your majesty would give me power and authority over the whole kingdom, nobody would dare to annoy me with such taunts.”
“Sweetheart, I have no power over those that dwell throughout my kingdom; I am not their lord and master. I have only jurisdiction over those who revolt or do iniquity. So I cannot give you power and authority over the whole kingdom.”
“Then, sire, if you cannot give me authority over the kingdom or over the city, at least give me authority within the palace, that I may have rule here over those that dwell in the palace.”
Too deeply smitten with her charms to refuse, the king gave her authority over all within the palace and bade her have rule over them. Contented, she waited till the king was asleep, and then making her way to the city of the Yakkhas returned with the whole crew of Yakkhas to the palace. And she herself slew the king and devoured him, skin, tendons and flesh, leaving only the bare bones. And the rest of the Yakkhas entering the gate devoured everything as it came in their way, not leaving even a fowl or a dog alive. Next day when people came and found the gate shut, they beat on it with impatient cries, and effected an entrance – only to find the whole palace strewn with bones. And they exclaimed, “So the man was right in saying she was not his wife but a Yakkhini. In his unwisdom the king brought her home to be his wife, and doubtless she has assembled the other Yakkhas, devoured everybody, and then made off.”
Now on that day the Bodhisatta, with the charmed sand on his head and the charmed thread twisted round his brow, was standing in the rest house, sword in hand, waiting for the dawn. Those others, meantime, cleansed the palace, garnished the floors afresh, sprinkled perfumes on them, scattered flowers, hanging nosegays from the roof and festooning the walls with garlands, and burning incense in the place. Then they took counsel together, as follows:
“The man that could so master his senses as not so much as to look at the Yakkhini as she followed him in her divine beauty, is a noble and steadfast man, filled with wisdom. With such a one as king, it would be well with the whole kingdom. Let us make him our king.”
And all the courtiers and all the citizens of the kingdom were one-minded in the matter. So the Bodhisatta, being chosen king, was escorted into the capital and there decked in jewels and anointed king of Taxila.
When the kingdom had been offered to the Bodhisatta by the people, and when he had accepted it and been anointed king, the people decorated the town like a city of the gods and the royal palace like the palace of Sakka. Entering the city the Bodhisatta passed into the spacious hall of the palace and there seated himself in all his godlike beauty on his jewelled throne beneath the white umbrella of his kingship. Round him in glittering splendour stood his ministers and brahmins and nobles, while sixteen thousand dancing girls, fair as the Devaccharā, sang and danced and made music, till the palace was loud with sounds like the ocean when the storm bursts in thunder on its waters. Or is the meaning ‘like the vault of heaven filled with thunder-clouds’? cf. arṇava in the Rigveda. Gazing round on the pomp of his royal state, the Bodhisatta thought how, had he looked upon the charms of the Yakkhinis, he would have perished miserably, nor ever have lived to see his present magnificence, which he owed to his following the counsels of the Paccekabuddhas. And as these thoughts filled his heart, his uttered this exalted utterance:
1. Kusalūpadese dhitiyā daḷhāya ca,
Anivattitattā bhayabhīrutāya ca,
Na Rakkhasīnaṁ vasam-āgamimhase,
Sa sotthibhāvo mahatā bhayena me ti.
Skilful advice, with firm resolution, without turning back through fear and through fright, we came not under Rakkhasis’ control, I found a state of safety from great fear.
So ended the lesson which these verses taught. And the Great Being ruled his kingdom in righteousness, and abounded in generosity and other good works till in the end he passed away to fare according to his deeds.
His lesson ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka by saying: “I was the prince of those days who went to Taxila and won a kingdom.”
last updated: August 2023