Ja 169 Arakajātaka
The Story about (the Teacher) Araka (2s)

In the present the Buddha teaches the monastics the benefits of practising loving-kindness. He then tells how he gave a similar teaching as an ascetic in a previous life and attained heaven when he passed away.

The Bodhisatta = the teacher Araka (Arako satthā),
the Buddha’s disciples = the sage’s followers (isigaṇa).

Keywords: Loving-kindness, Compassion.

“The heart that boundless pity feels.” This story the Teacher told at Jetavana, about the Discourse on Loving-kindness.

On one occasion the Teacher thus addressed the Saṅgha, “Monks, loving-kindness practised with all devotion of thought, {2.61} meditated upon, increased, made a vehicle of progress, made your one object, practised, well begun, may be expected to produce Eleven Blessings. [See AN 11.15 Mettānisaṁsasuttaṁ, or Mettāsuttaṁ.] What are these eleven? Happy he sleeps and happy he awakes; he sees no bad dreams; men love him; Amanussas guard him; fire, poison, and sword come not near him; quickly he becomes absorbed in mind; his look grows calm; he dies undismayed; without need of further wisdom he goes to Brahmā’s Realm. Loving-kindness, monks, practised with renunciation of one’s wishes” and so forth, “may be expected to produce these Eleven Blessings. Praising the loving-kindness which holds these Eleven Blessings, monks, a monk ought to show kindness to all creatures, whether expressly commanded or not, he should be a friend to the friendly, aye a friend to the unfriendly, and a friend to the indifferent: thus to all without distinction, whether expressly bidden or not, he should show loving-kindness: he should show sympathy with joy and sorrow and practise equanimity; he should do his work by means of the four Divine Abidings. By so doing he will go to Brahmā’s Realm even without Path or Fruit. Wise men of old by cultivating loving-kindness for seven years, have dwelt in Brahmā’s Realm seven ages, each with its one period to wax and one to wane.” See Childers, Dict. p. 185 b. The belief still lives. Two gentlemen who visited the Chief of Chinese Lamaism and the High Priest of Buddhism in Pekin, in 1890, talked with them over the decline of Buddhism in this age. Both admitted it, the [43] Buddhist attributing it to want of government support, while the Lama thought it was because this is a waning period in religion; but as the waxing follows the waning he looked forward to a revival. (Baptist Missionary Herald, 1890.) And he told them a story. [2.43]

In the past, in a former age, the Bodhisatta was born in a brahmin’s family. When he grew up, he forsook his sensual desires and embraced the ascetic life, and attained the four Divine Abidings. His name was Araka, and he became a Teacher, and lived in the Himālayas region, with a large body of followers. Admonishing his band of sages, he said: “A recluse must show loving-kindness, sympathetic must he be both in joy and sorrow, and full of equanimity; for this thought of loving-kindness attained by resolve prepares him for Brahmā’s Realm.” And explaining the blessing of loving-kindness, he repeated these verses:

1. “The heart that boundless pity feels for all things that have birth,
In heaven above, in realms below, and on this middle earth,

2. Filled full of pity infinite, infinite generosity,
In such a heart nought narrow or confined can ever be.” {2.62}

Thus did the Bodhisatta discourse to his pupils on the practice of loving-kindness and its blessings. And without a moment’s interruption of his Absorption, he was reborn in the Brahmā Realm, and for seven ages, each with his time to wax and wane, he came no more to this world.

After finishing this discourse, the Teacher identified the Jātaka, “The band of sages of that time are now the Buddha’s followers; and I myself am he that was the Teacher Araka.”