Ja 171 Kalyāṇadhammajātaka
The Story about the Beautiful (2s)

In the present while one householder goes to listen to the Buddha, his relatives misunderstand the situation and think he has ordained, and start to talk about it. On his way back he hears what the people are saying, and decides to live up to the rumour, goes back and ordains. The Buddha tells a story of a similar event in one of his past lives.

The Bodhisatta = the wealthy man of Benares (Bārāṇasiseṭṭhi),
Ānanda = the king (of Benares) (rājā).

Past Compare: Jm 20 Śreṣṭhi.

Keywords: Expectation, Aspiration.

“O king, when people hail us.” [2.44] This story the Teacher told in Jetavana, about a deaf mother-in-law.

It is said that there was a householder in Sāvatthi, one of the faithful, a true believer, who had fled to the Three Refuges, endowed with the Five Precepts. One day he set out to listen to the Teacher at Jetavana, bearing plenteous ghee and condiments of all sorts, flowers, perfumes, etc. At the same time, his wife’s mother started to visit her daughter, and brought a present of solid food and gruel. She was a little hard of hearing.

After dinner – one feels a little drowsy after a meal – she said, by way of keeping herself awake, “Well, and does your husband live happily with you? Do you agree together?” “Why, mother, what a thing to ask! You could hardly find a holy ascetic who is so good and virtuous as he!” The good woman did not quite take in what her daughter said, but she caught the word, “Ascetic” and cried she, “O dear, why has your husband turned ascetic!” and a great to-do she made. Everybody who lived in that house heard it, and cried, “News – the householder has turned ascetic!” People heard the noise, and a crowd gathered at the door to find out what it was. “The householder who lives here has turned ascetic!” was all they heard.

Our householder listened to the One with Ten Power’s sermon, then left the monastery to return to the city. Midway a man met him, who cried, “Why, master, they do say you’ve turned ascetic, and all your family and servants are crying at home!” {2.64} Then these thoughts passed through his mind. “People say I have turned ascetic when I have done nothing of the kind. A lucky speech must not be neglected; this day an ascetic I must be.” Then and there he turned right round, and went back to the Teacher. “You paid your visit to the Buddha,” the Teacher said, “and went away. What brings you back here again?” The man told him about it, adding, “A lucky speech, sir, must not be neglected. So here I am, and I wish to become an ascetic.” Then he received the lesser and the greater orders, and lived a good life; and very soon he became an Arahat.

The story got known amongst the Saṅgha. One day they were discussing it all together in the Dhamma Hall, on this fashion, “I say, friend, householder So-and-so took orders because he said ‘a lucky speech must never be neglected,’ and now he has became an Arahat!” The Teacher came in and wanted to know what it was they were talking about. They told him. Said he, “Monks, wise men in days long past also went forth because they said that a lucky speech must never be neglected,” and then he told them a story of olden days.

In the past, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta came into the world as a rich merchant’s son; and when he grew up and his father died he took his father’s place.

Once he had gone to pay his respects to the king: and his mother-in-law came on a visit to her daughter. She was a little hard of hearing, and all happened just as it has happened above. The husband was on [2.45] his way back from paying his respects to the king, when he was met by a man, who said: “They say you have turned ascetic, and there’s such a hullabaloo in your house!” The Bodhisatta, thinking that lucky words must never be neglected, turned right round and went back to the king. The king asked what brought him back again. “My lord,” said he, “all my people are bewailing me, I am told, because I have turned ascetic, when I have done nothing of the kind. But lucky words must not be neglected, and an ascetic I will be. I crave your permission to become an ascetic!” And he explained the circumstances by the following verses: {2.65}

1. “O king, when people hail us by the name
Of holy, we must make our acts the same:
We must not waver nor fall short of it;
We must take up the yoke for very shame.

2. O king, this name has been bestowed on me:
Today they cry how holy I must be:
Therefore I would an ascetic live and die;
I have no taste for joy and revelry.”

Thus did the Bodhisatta ask the king’s leave to embrace the ascetic life. Then he went away to the Himālayas, and becoming an ascetic he cultivated the Super Knowledges and Attainments and at last came to Brahmā’s Realm.

The Teacher, having ended this discourse, identified the Jātaka, “Ānanda was king in those days, and I myself was the rich Benares merchant.”