Ja 147 Puppharattajātaka
The Birth Story about the Red Flower (1s)
In the present one monk still longs for his former wife. The Buddha tells a story of the two of them in a previous life, and how her insistence on getting a safflower-dyed cloth resulted in his painful death, while he regretted not fulfilling her desire.
The Bodhisatta = the Air Devatā (Ākāsaṭṭhadevatā),
the husband and wife = the same in the past (jayampatika).
Present And Past Source: Ja 147 Puppharatta,
Quoted at: Ja 297 Kāmavilāpa.
Keywords: Attachment, Regret, Devas, Women.
“Being impaled in the air isn’t suffering.” This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana, about a monk who was overcome by passion. Being questioned by the Teacher, he admitted his frailty, explaining that he longed for the wife of his mundane life, “For, oh sir!” said he, “she is so sweet a woman that I cannot live without her.”
“Monk,” said the Teacher, “she is harmful to you. She it was that in former days was the means whereby you were impaled on a stake; and it was for bewailing her at your death that you were reborn in hell. Why then do you now long after her?” And so saying, he told the following story of the past.
In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born an Air Devatā. Now in Benares there was held the night-festival of Kattikā; the city was decorated like a city of the gods, and the whole people kept holiday. And a poor man had only a couple of coarse cloths which he had washed and pressed till they were in a hundred, nay, a thousand creases. But his wife said: “My husband, I want
“How are poor people like us to get safflowers?” said he. “Put on your nice clean attire and come along.”
“If I can’t have them dyed with safflower, I don’t want to go at all,” said his wife. “Get some other woman to go to the festival with you.”
“Now why torment me like this? How are we to get safflowers?”
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” retorted the woman. “Are there no safflowers in the king’s conservatories?”
“Wife,” said he, “the king’s conservatories are like a pool haunted by a Rakkhasa. There’s no getting in there, with such a strong guard on the watch. Give over this fancy, and be content with what you’ve got.”
“But when it’s night-time and dark,” said she, “what’s to stop a man’s going where he pleases?”
As she persisted in her entreaties, his love for her at last made him give way and promise she should have her wish. At the hazard of his own life, he sallied out of the city by night and got into the conservatories by breaking down the fence. The noise he made in breaking the fence roused the guard, who turned out to catch the thief. They soon caught him and with blows and curses put him in fetters. In the morning he was brought before the king, who promptly ordered him to be impaled alive. Off he was hauled, with his hands tied behind his back, and led out of the city to execution to the sound of the execution-drum, and was impaled alive. Intense were his agonies; and, to add to them, the crows settled on his head and pecked out his eyes with their dagger-like beaks. Yet, heedless of his pain, and thinking only of his wife, the man murmured to himself, “Alas, I shall miss going to the festival with you arrayed in safflower-coloured cloths, with your arms twined round my neck.” So saying, he uttered this verse:
1. Na-y-idaṁ dukkhaṁ, aduṁ dukkhaṁ, yaṁ maṁ tudati vāyaso,
Yaṁ Sāmā puppharattena Kattikaṁ nānubhossatī ti.
Being impaled in the air isn’t suffering, that is suffering: Sāmā with her safflowers will not enjoy the Kattika Fair.
And as he was babbling thus about his wife, he died and was reborn in hell.
His lesson ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka by saying: “This husband and wife were the husband and wife of those days also, and I was the Air Devatā who made their story known.”
last updated: August 2023