Ja 182 Saṅgāmāvacarajātaka
The Story about the Entry into Battle (2s)

In the present Ven. Nanda is lax in effort, thinking of his former love. The Buddha promises him a reward much greater than his fiancee, and he decides to strive harder. The other monks, though, scorn him for having such lowly ends, and he makes even greater effort and attains Awakening. The Buddha tells a story about an elephant who was scared of war, but when advised by his trainer, won a kingdom.

The Bodhisatta = the mahout (hatthācariya),
Ānanda = the king (of Benares) (rājā),
Nanda = the elephant (hatthī).

Present Compare: Udāna 2.2 Nanda, Dhp-a I.9 Nandatthera.

Keywords: Striving, Effort, Devas, Animals.

“O elephant, a hero you.” This story the Teacher told while staying at Jetavana, about elder Nanda.

The Teacher, on his first return to Kapila city, had received into the Saṅgha prince Nanda, his younger brother, and returned to Sāvatthi after and stayed there. Now Ven. Nanda, as he was leaving his home, after taking the bowl, in the Tathāgata’s company, remembered how Janapadakalyāṇī was looking out of a window, with her hair half combed, and she said: “Why, prince Nanda is off with the Teacher! – Come back soon, dear lord!” remembering this, I say, he grew downcast and despondent, yellower and yellower, and the veins stood knotted over his skin.

When the Teacher learned, of this, he thought: “What if I could establish Nanda as an Arahat!” To Nanda’s cell he went, and sat on the seat which was offered him. “Well, Nanda,” he asked, “are you content with our dispensation?” “Sir,” replied Nanda, “I am in love with Janapadakalyāṇī, and I am not content.” “Have you been on pilgrimage in the Himālayas, Nanda?” “No, sir, not yet.” “Then we will go.” “But, sir, I have no Supernormal Powers; how can I go?” “I will take you, Nanda.” So saying, the Teacher took him by the hand, and thus passed through the air.

On the way they passed over a burnt field. There, upon the charred stump of a tree, with nose and tail half gone, hair scorched off, and her hide a cinder, nothing but skin, all covered with blood, sat a female monkey. “Do you see that monkey, Nanda?” the Teacher asked. “Yes, sir.” “Take a good look at her,” said he. Then he pointed out, stretching over sixty leagues, the uplands of Manosilā, the seven great lakes, Anotatta and the rest, the five great rivers, the whole Himālaya highlands, with the magnificent hills named of Gold, of Silver, and of Gems, and hundreds of other lovely spots. Next he asked, “Nanda, have you ever seen the abode of the Thirty-Three?” {2.93} “No, sir, never,” was the reply. “Come along, Nanda,” said he, “and I will show you the abode of the Thirty-Three.”

Therewith he brought him to the Yellowstone Throne, The throne of Sakka (Indra). and made him sit on it. Sakka, King of the Devas in two heavens, came with his host [2.64] of gods, gave greeting and sat down on one side. His handmaids to the number of twenty-five million, and five hundred Accharā with doves’ feet, came and made greeting, then sat down on one side. The Teacher made Nanda look at these five hundred Accharā again and again, with desire after them. “Nanda” said he, “do you see these dove-footed Accharā? “Yes, sir.” “Well, which is prettier – they or Janapadakalyāṇī?” “Oh, sir! As that wretched ape was in comparison with Janapadakalyāṇī, so is she compared with these!” “Well, Nanda, what are you going to do?” “How is it possible, sir, to win these nymphs?” “By living as an ascetic, sir,” said the Teacher, “one may win these nymphs.” The lad said: “If the Fortunate One pledges his word that an ascetic life will win these nymphs, an ascetic life I will lead.” “Agreed, Nanda, I pledge my word. Well, sir,” said he, “don’t let us make a long business of it. Let us be off, and I will become an ascetic.”

The Teacher brought him to Jetavana back again. The elder began to follow the ascetic life.

The Teacher recounted to Sāriputta, the Captain of the Dhamma, how his younger brother had made him pledge himself in the midst of the gods in the heaven of the Thirty-Three about the Devaccharā. In the same manner, he told the story to elder Mahāmoggallāna, to elder Mahākassapa, to elder Anuruddha, to elder Ānanda, the Treasurer of the Dhamma, eighty great disciples in all; and then, one after the other, he told it to the other monks.

The Captain of the Dhamma, elder Sāriputta, asked elder Nanda, “Is it true, as I hear, friend, that you have the One with Ten Powers’ pledged word that you shall win the Devaccharā in the heaven of the Thirty-Three, by passing your life as an ascetic? Then,” he went on, “is not your holy life all bound up with womankind and lust? If you live chaste just for the sake of women, what is the difference between you and a labourer who works for hire?” {2.94} This saying quenched all the fire in him and made him ashamed of himself. In the same way all the eighty chief disciples, and all the rest of the monks, made this worthy monk ashamed. “I have been wrong,” thought he; in all shame and remorse, he got up his courage, and set to work to develop his spiritual insight. Soon he became an Arahat. He came to the Teacher, and said: “Sir, I release the Fortunate One from his promise.” The Teacher said: “If you have become an Arahat, Nanda, I am thereby released from my promise.”

When the monks heard of this, they began to talk about it over in their Dhamma Hall. “How docile that elder Nanda is, to be sure! Why, friend, one word of advice awakened his sense of shame; at once he began to live as an ascetic and now he is an Arahat!” The Teacher came in, and asked what they were talking about together. They told him. “Monks,” said he, “Nanda was just as docile in former days as he is now,” and then he told them a story.

In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as an elephant-trainer’s son. When he grew up, he was carefully taught all that pertains to the training of elephants. He was in the service of a king who was an enemy to the king of Benares. He trained this king’s elephant of state to perfection.

The king determined to capture Benares. Mounting upon his state elephant, he led a mighty host against Benares, and laid siege to it. Then he sent a letter to the king of the city, “Fight, or yield!” The king chose to fight. Walls and gates, towers and battlements he manned with a great host, and defied the foe.

The hostile king armed his state elephant, and clad himself in armour, took a sharp goad in his hand, and drove his beast towards the city, “Now,” [2.65] said he, “I’ll storm this city, and kill my enemy, and get his realms into my hands,” But at sight of the defenders, who cast boiling mud, and stones from their catapults, and all kinds of missiles, the elephant was scared out of his wits and would not come near the place. Thereupon up came the trainer, crying, “Son, a hero like you is quite at home in the battle-field! {2.95} In such a place it is disgraceful to turn tail!” And to encourage his elephant, he uttered these two verses:

1. “O elephant, a hero you, whose home is in the field:
There stands the gate before you now: why do you turn and yield?

2. Make haste! Break through the iron bar, and beat the pillars down!
Crash through the gates, made fast for war, and enter in the town!”

The elephant listened; one word of advice was enough to turn him. Winding his trunk about the shafts of the pillars, he tore them up like so many toadstools: he beat against the gateway, broke down the bars, and forcing his way through entered the city and won it for his king.

When the Teacher had finished this discourse, he identified the Jātaka, “In those days Nanda was the elephant, Ānanda was the king, and the trainer was I myself.”