Ja 145 Rādhajātaka
The Story about (the Parrot) Rādha (1s)
In the present one monk who ordains after his marriage gradually comes once again under his wife’s power. The Buddha tells a story of the past in which one brahmin’s wife committed adultery as soon as he was away, and how they were powerless to stop her.
The Bodhisatta = (the parrot) Poṭṭhapāda,
Ānanda = (his brother) Rādha,
the brahmin couple = the same in the past (brāhmaṇo ca brāhmaṇī ca).
Present Source: Ja 423 Indriyajātaka,
Quoted at: Ja 13 Kaṇḍinajātaka, Ja 145 Rādhajātaka, Ja 191 Ruhakajātaka, Ja 318 Kaṇaverajātaka, Ja 380 Āsaṅkajātaka, Ja 523 Alambusājātaka,
Past Compare: Ja 145 Rādha, Ja 198 Rādha.
Keywords: Attachment, Lust, Animals, Birds.
“How many more?” This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana, about hankering after the wife of one’s mundane life. The incidents of the introductory story will be told in the Indriyajātaka [Ja 423].
The Teacher told this tale while dwelling in Jetavana, concerning temptation by the wife of one’s former days. The story is that a young man of good family at Sāvatthi heard the Teacher’s preaching, and thinking it impossible to lead a holy life, perfectly complete and pure, as a householder, he determined to become an ascetic in the dispensation which leads to safety and so make an end of misery. So he gave up his house and property to his wife and children, and asked the Teacher to ordain him. The Teacher did so. As he was the junior in his going about for alms with his teachers and instructors, and as the monks were many, he got no chair either in laymen’s houses or in the refectory, but only a stool or a bench at the end of the novices, his food was tossed him hastily on a ladle, he got gruel made of broken lumps of rice, solid food stale or decaying, or sprouts dried and burnt; and this was not enough to keep him alive. He took what he had got to the wife he had left: she took his bowl, saluted him, emptied it and gave him instead well-cooked gruel and rice with sauce and curry.
The monk was captivated by the love of such flavours and could not leave his wife. She thought she would test his affection. One day she had a countryman cleansed with white clay and set down in her house with some others of his people whom she had sent for, and she gave them something to eat and drink. They sat eating and enjoying it. At the house-door she had some bullocks bound to wheels and a cart set ready. She herself sat in a back room cooking cakes. Her husband came and stood at the door. Seeing him, one old servant told his mistress that there was an elder at the door. “Salute him and bid him pass on.”
But though he did so repeatedly, he saw the monk remaining there and told his mistress. She came, and lifting up the curtain to see, she cried, “This is the father of my sons.” She came out and saluted him: taking his bowl and making him enter she gave him food: when he had eaten she saluted again and said: “Sir, you are a saint now: we have been staying in this house all this time; but there can be no proper householder’s life without a master, so we will take another house and go far into the country: be zealous in your good works, and forgive me if I am doing wrong.” For a time her husband was as if his heart would break. Then he said: “I cannot leave you, do not go, I will come back to my worldly life; send a layman’s garment to such and such a place, I will give up my bowl and robes and come back to you.” She agreed. The monk went to his monastery, and giving up his bowl and robes to his teachers and instructors he explained, in answer to their questions, that he could not leave his wife and was going back to worldly life.
Against his will they took him to the Teacher and told him that he was discontent and wished to go back to worldly life.
The Teacher spoke thus to the monk, “It is impossible to keep a guard over a woman; no guard can keep a woman in the right path. You yourself found in former days that all your safeguards were unavailing; and how can you now expect to have more success?” And so saying, he told this story of the past.
In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born a parrot. A certain brahmin in the Kāsi country was as a father to him and to his younger brother, treating them like his own children. Poṭṭhapāda was the Bodhisatta’s name, and Rādha his brother’s.
Now the brahmin had a bold bad wife. And as he was leaving home on business, he said to the two brothers, “If your mother, my wife, is minded to be naughty, stop her.” “We will, papa,” said the Bodhisatta, “if we can;
Having thus entrusted his wife to the parrots’ charge, the brahmin set out on his business. Every day thenceforth his wife committed adultery; there was no end to the stream of her lovers in and out of the house. Moved by the sight, Rādha said to the Bodhisatta, “Monk, the parting injunction of our father was to stop any misconduct on his wife’s part, and now she does nothing but misconduct herself. Let us stop her.”
1. “How many more shall midnight bring? Your plan
Is idle. Naught but wifely love could curb
Her lust; and wifely love is quite lacking.”
And for the reasons thus given, the Bodhisatta did not allow his brother to speak to the brahmin’s wife, who continued to gad about to her heart’s content during her husband’s absence. On his return, the brahmin asked Poṭṭhapāda about his wife’s conduct, and the Bodhisatta faithfully related all that had taken place.
“Why, father,” he said, “should you have anything more to do with so wicked a woman?” And he added these words, “My father, now that I have reported my mother’s wickedness, we can dwell here no longer.” So saying, he bowed at the brahmin’s feet and flew away with Rādha to the forest.
His lesson ended, the Teacher taught the Four Truths, at the close whereof the monk who hankered after the wife of his mundane life was established in the fruition of the First Path. “This husband and wife,” said the Teacher, “were the brahmin and his wife of those days, Ānanda was Rādha, and I myself Poṭṭhapāda.”
last updated: November 2021