Ja 185 Anabhiratijātaka
The Story about Discontent (2s)

In the present one young brahmin learns the Vedas, but through the worries and occupations of his household life he forgets what he had learned. The Buddha tells a similar story from the past, showing how only a tranquil mind has good recollection.

The Bodhisatta = the teacher (ācariya),
the young brahmin = the same in the past (māṇava).

Keywords: Clarity, Recall.

“Thick, muddy water.” This story the Teacher told while staying in Jetavana, and it was about a young brahmin.

A young brahmin, as they say, belonging to Sāvatthi, had mastered the Three Vedas, and used to teach the mantras to a number of young brahmins and nobles. In time he settled down as a married man. His thoughts being now busy with wealth and ornaments, serving men and serving women, lands and substance, kine and buffaloes, sons and daughters, he became subject to passion, error and folly. This obscured his wits, so that he forgot how to repeat his mantras in due order, and every now and then the charms did not come clear in his mind.

This man one day procured a quantity of flowers and sweet scents, and these he took to the Teacher in Jetavana. After his greeting, he sat down on one side. {2.100} The Teacher talked pleasantly to him. “Well, young sir, you are a teacher of the mantras. Do you know them all by heart?” “Well, sir, I used to know them all right, but since I married my mind has been darkened, and I don’t know them any longer.” “Ah, young sir,” the Teacher said, “just the same happened before; at first your mind was clear, and you knew all your verses perfectly, but when your mind was obscured by passions and sensual desires, you could no longer clearly see them.” Then at his request the Teacher told the following story.

In the past, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was born in the family of a brahmin householder. When he grew up, he studied under a far-famed teacher of Taxila, where he learned all [2.69] the mantras. After returning to Benares he taught these mantras to a large number of brahmin and noble youths.

Amongst these youths was one young brahmin who had learned the Three Vedas by heart; he became a master of ritual, Or it may mean ‘a pupil-teacher.’ and could repeat the whole of the sacred texts without stumbling in a single line. By and by he married and settled down. Then household cares clouded his mind, and no longer could he repeat the mantras.

One day his teacher paid him a visit. “Well, young sir,” he enquired, “do you know all your verses off by heart?” “Since I have been the head of a household,” was the reply, “my mind has been clouded, and I cannot repeat them.” “My son,” said his teacher, “when the mind is clouded, no matter how perfectly the mantras have been learned, they will not stand out clear. But when the mind is serene there is no forgetting them.” And thereupon he repeated the two verses following:

1. “Thick, muddy water will not show
Fish or shell or sand or gravel that may lie below: There is an irregularity in this verse, the Pali having an extra line. I have reproduced this by making line 2 of an irregular length.
So with a clouded wit:
Nor your nor other’s good is seen in it.

2. Clear, quiet waters ever show
All, be it fish or shell, that lies below; {2.101}
So with unclouded wit:
Your own and other’s good shows clear in it.”

When the Teacher had finished this discourse, he declared the Truths, and identified the Jātaka, at the conclusion of the Truths the young brahmin entered upon the Fruit of the First Path, “In those days, this youth was the young brahmin, and I was his teacher.”