Ja 156 Alīnacittajātaka
The Story about Prince Alīnacitta (2s)
In the present a monk goes to the forest and strives, but fails to attain. When brought to the Buddha he is reproved and told about a previous life as an elephant, in which his loyalty to his king had saved the kingdom from conquest, and won it for the baby king.
The Bodhisatta = prince Alīnacitta (Alīnacittakumāra),
King Suddhodana = the father (pitā),
Queen Mahāmāyā = the mother (matā),
Moggallāna = the neighbouring king of Kosala (sāmanta-Kosalarājā),
Sāriputto = the elephant’s father (hatthissa pitā),
the monk who had given up = the elephant who saved a kingdom.
Present Source: Ja 462 Saṁvarajātaka,
Quoted at: Ja 8 Gāmanijātaka, Ja 156 Alīnacittajātaka.
Keywords: Loyalty, Perseverance, Animals.
“Alīna took king Kosala.” This story the Teacher told at Jetavana, about a fainthearted monk. The circumstances will be set forth in the Saṁvarajātaka [Ja 462] in the eleventh Book.
This story the Teacher told while dwelling in Jetavana, about a monk who had ceased to strive. This, we learn, was a young man of family, who lived in Sāvatthi. Having heard the Teacher’s discoursing, he renounced the world. Fulfilling the tasks imposed by his teachers and preceptors, he learned by heart both the Pātimokkhas.
When five years were past, he said: “When I have been instructed in the mode of attaining Absorption, I will go dwell in the forest.” Then he took leave of his teachers and preceptors, and proceeded to a frontier village in the kingdom of Kosala. The people were pleased with his behaviour, and he made a hut of leaves and there was attended to.
Entering upon the rainy season, zealous, eager, striving in strenuous endeavour he strove after Absorption for the space of three months: but of this not a trace could he produce. Then he thought: “Verily I am the most devoted to worldly conditions among the four classes of men taught by the Teacher! What have I to do with living in the forest?” Then he said to himself, “I will return to Jetavana, and there in beholding the beauty of the Tathāgata, and hearing his discourse sweet as honey, I will pass my days.” So he relaxed his striving; and setting forth he came in course of time to Jetavana. His preceptors and teachers, his friends and acquaintances asked him the cause of his coming. He informed them, and they reproved him for it, asking him why he had done so.
Then they led him into the Teacher’s presence. “Why, monks,” said the Teacher, “do you lead a monk here against his will?” They replied, “This monk has come here because he has relaxed his striving.”
When the Teacher asked this monk if he really were fainthearted, as was said, he replied,
In the past, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, there was a village of carpenters not far from the city, in which five hundred carpenters lived. They would go up the river in a vessel, and enter the forest, where they would shape beams and planks for housebuilding, and put together the framework of one storey or two storey houses, numbering all the pieces from the mainpost onwards; these then they brought down to the river bank, and put them all aboard; then rowing down stream again, they would build houses to order as it was required of them; after which, when they received their wage, they went back again for more materials for the building, and in this way they made their livelihood.
Once it befell that in a place where they were at work in shaping timbers, a certain elephant trod upon a splinter of acacia wood, which pierced his foot, and caused it to swell up and fester, and he was in great pain. In his agony, he caught the sound of these carpenters cutting wood. “There are some carpenters who will cure me,” thought he; and limping on three feet, he presented himself before them, and lay down close by. The carpenters, noticing his swollen foot, went up and looked; there was the splinter sticking in it. With a sharp tool they made incision about the splinter, and tying a string to it, pulled it right out. Then they lanced the gathering, and washed it with warm water, and doctored it properly; and in a very short time the wound was healed.
Grateful for this cure, the elephant thought: “My life has been saved by the help of these carpenters; now I must make myself useful to them.” So ever after that,
Now this elephant had a young one, white all over, a magnificent high-bred creature. The elephant reflected that he was now old, and he had better bring his young one to serve the carpenters, and himself be left free to go. So without a word to the carpenters he went off into the wood, and brought his son to them, saying: “This young elephant is a son of mine. You saved my life, and I give him to you as a fee for your medical help; from henceforward he shall work for you.” So he explained to the young elephant that it was his duty to do the work which he had been used to do himself, and then went away into the forest, leaving him with the carpenters. So after that time the young elephant did all their work, faithfully and obediently; and they fed him, as they had fed the other, with five hundred portions for a meal.
His work once done, the elephant would go play about in the
One day, rain had fallen up river; and by the flood a half-dry cake of his dung was carried into the river. This floated down to the Benares landing place, where it stuck fast in a bush. Just then the king’s elephant keepers had brought down five hundred elephants to give them a bath. But the creatures scented this soil of a noble animal, and not one would enter the water; up went their tails, and off they all ran. The keepers told this to the elephant trainers; who replied, “There must be something in the water, then.” So orders were given to cleanse the water;
When the trainers made their report to the king, they advised him to secure the elephant for his own use and profit.
The king accordingly embarked upon a raft, and rowed up stream until he arrived at the place where the carpenters had settled. The young elephant, hearing the sound of drums as he was playing in the water, came out and presented himself before the carpenters, who one and all came forth to do honour to the king’s coming, and said to him, “Sire, if woodwork is wanted, what need to come here? Why not send and have it brought to you?”
“No, no, good friends,” the king answered, “ ’tis not for wood that I come, but for this elephant here.”
“He is yours, sire!” But the elephant refused to budge.
“I say, what do you want me to do, elephant?” asked the king.
“Order the carpenters to be paid for what they have spent on me, sire.”
“Willingly, friend.” And the king ordered a hundred thousand pieces of money to be laid by his tail, and trunk, and by each of his four feet. But this was not enough for the elephant; go he would not. So to each of the carpenters was given a pair of cloths, and to each of their wives robes to dress in, nor did he omit to give enough whereby his playmates the children should be brought up; then with a last look upon the carpenters, and the women, and the children, he departed in company with the king.
To his capital city the king brought him; and city and stable were decked out with all magnificence. He led the elephant round the city in solemn procession, and thence into his stable, which was fitted up with splendour and pomp. There he solemnly sprinkled the elephant, and appointed him for his own riding; like a comrade he treated him, and gave him half of his kingdom,
In course of time the Bodhisatta was conceived by the queen consort; and when her time was near to be delivered, the king died. Now if the elephant learned news of the king’s death, it was sure to break his heart; so he was waited upon as before, and not a word said. But the next neighbour, the king of Kosala, heard of the king’s death. “Surely the land is at my mercy,” thought he; and marched with a mighty host to the city, and beleaguered it. Straight the gates were closed, and a message was sent to the king of Kosala, “Our queen is near the time of her delivery; and the astrologers have declared that in seven days she shall bear a son. If she bears a son, we will not yield the kingdom, but on the seventh day we will give you battle. For so long we pray you wait!” And to this the king agreed.
In seven days the queen bore a son. On his name-day they called him prince Alīnacitta [Winheart], because, they said, he was born to win the hearts of the people.
On the very same day that he was born, the townsfolk began to do battle with the king of Kosala. But as they had no leader, little by little the army gave way, great though it was. The courtiers told this news to the queen, adding, “Since our army loses ground in this way, we fear defeat. But the state elephant, our king’s bosom friend, has never been told that the king is dead, and a son born to him, and that the king of Kosala is here to give us battle. Shall we tell him?”
“Yes, do so,” said the queen. So she dressed up her son, and laid him in a fine linen cloth; after which she with all the court came down from the palace and entered the elephant’s stable. There she laid the babe at the elephant’s feet,
At once the elephant stroked the child with his trunk, and lifted him upon his own head; then making moan and lamentation he took him down and laid him in his mother’s arms, and with the words, “I will master the king of Kosala!” he went forth hastily.
Then the courtiers put his armour and caparison upon him, and
After that, the power over all Jambudīpa fell into the Bodhisatta’s own hand, and not a foe was able to rise up against him. The Bodhisatta was consecrated at the age of seven years, as king Alīnacitta; just was his reign, and when he came to life’s end he went to swell the hosts of heaven.
When the Teacher had ended this discourse, having become perfectly enlightened, he repeated this couple of verses:
1. “Alīna took king Kosala, ill pleased with all he had;
By capturing the greedy king, he made his people glad.
2. So any brother, reliant, strong in will,
When righteousness is practised peace to win,
He who so walks, shall gain the victory
And all the fetters utterly destroy.”
And so the Teacher, bringing his teaching to a climax in the deathless and great Nibbāna, went on to declare the Truths, and then identified the Jātaka, after the Truths, this discontented monk became an Arahat, “She who now is Mahāmāyā was then the mother; this discontented monk was the elephant who took the kingdom and handed it over to the child; Sāriputta was the father elephant, and I myself was the young prince.”
last updated: November 2021