Ja 194 Maṇicorajātaka
The Story about the Jewel Thief (2s)
In the present Devadatta goes about trying to kill the Buddha, who tells a story where an unjust king tried to steal the virtuous wife of the Bodhisatta by first having his head cut off. Sakka is alerted and intervenes and the Bodhisatta becomes the new and righteous king.
The Bodhisatta = the king raised by Sakka (Sakkadattiyarājā),
Rāhulamātā = (his wife) Sujātā,
Anuruddha = (the King of the Devas) Sakka,
Devadatta = the unrighteous king (adhammikarājā).
Keywords: Virtue, Lust, Devas.
“You gods are here.” This story the Teacher told during a stay in Veḷuvana, how Devadatta tried to kill him. Hearing that Devadatta went about to kill him, he said: “Monks, this is not the only time that Devadatta has been trying to kill me; he tried to do so before, and failed.” Then he told them this story.
In the past Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, when the Bodhisatta came to life as the son of a householder who lived in a village not far from the city.
When he came to years, they fetched a young lady of family from Benares to marry him. She was a fair and lovely maiden, beautiful as a Devaccharā, graceful like a twining creeper, ravishing as a Kinnarī. Her name was Sujātā; she was faithful, virtuous, and dutiful. She always did duly her duty to her lord and his parents. This girl was very dear and precious to the Bodhisatta.
One day Sujātā said to her husband, “I have a wish to see my mother and father.”
“Very good, my wife,” replied he, “make ready food sufficient for the journey.” He caused food of all sorts to be cooked, and placed the provisions in a wagon; since he drove the vehicle, he sat in front, and his wife behind. To Benares they went; and there they unyoked the wagon, and washed, and ate. Then the Bodhisatta yoked the oxen
As the wagon entered the city, the king of Benares happened to he making a solemn circuit round the place mounted upon the back of a splendid elephant; and he passed by that place. Sujātā had come down out of the cart, and was walking behind on foot. The king saw her: her beauty so attracted his eye, that he became enamoured of her. He called one of his suite. “Go,” said he, “and find out whether that woman has a husband or no.” The man did as he was bid, and came back to tell the king. “She has a husband, I am told,” said he, “do you see that man sitting in the cart yonder? He is her husband.”
The king could not smother his passion, and a wrong thought entered into his mind. “I will find some way of getting rid of this fellow,” he thought, “and then I will take the wife myself.” Calling to a man, he said: “Here, my good fellow, take this jewelled crest, and make as though you were passing down the street. As you go, drop it in the wagon of that man.” So saying, he gave him a jewelled crest, and dismissed him. The man took it, and went; as he passed the wagon, he dropped it in; then he returned, and reported to the king that it was done. “I have lost a jewelled crest!” cried the king: the whole place was in an uproar.
“Shut all the gates!” the king gave order, “cut off the outlets! Hunt the thief!” The king’s followers obeyed. The city was all confusion! The other man, taking some others with him, went up to the Bodhisatta, crying, “Hello! Stop your cart!
Now Sujātā left the wagon, and stretching out her arms she ran after him, wailing as she went, “O my husband, it is I who brought you into this woeful plight!” The king’s servants threw the Bodhisatta upon his back, with the intent to cut off his head. When she saw this, Sujātā thought upon her own goodness and virtue, reflecting thus within herself, “I suppose there can be no spirit here strong enough to stay the hand of cruel and wicked men, who work mischief to the virtuous,” and weeping and wailing she repeated the first verse:
1. “No gods are here: they must be far away;
No gods, who over all the world hold sway:
Now wild and violent men may work their will,
For here is no one who could say them nay.”
As this virtuous woman thus lamented, the throne of Sakka, King of the Devas, grew hot as he sat upon it.
Sakka took upon him a visible body, and came before the Bodhisatta, and consecrated him to be king; and caused the place of chief queen to be given to Sujātā. And as the courtiers, the brahmins and householders, and the rest, saw Sakka, King of the Devas, they rejoiced, saying: “The unrighteous king is slain! Now have we received from the hands of Sakka a king who is righteous!” And Sakka stood poised in the air, and declared, “This your righteous king from this time forth shall rule in righteousness. If a king be unrighteous, god sends rain out of season, and in season he sends no rain: and fear of famine, fear of pestilence, fear of the sword – these three fears come upon men for him.” Thus did he instruct them, and spake this second verse:
2. “For him no rain falls in the time of rain,
But out of season pours and pours amain.
A lord comes down from heaven upon the earth.
Behold the reason why this man is slain.”
Thus did Sakka admonish a great concourse of folk, and then he went straight to his divine abode. And the Bodhisatta reigned in righteousness, and then went to swell the hosts of heaven.
The Teacher, having ended this discourse, thus identified the Jātaka, “At that time Devadatta was the wicked king; Anuruddha was Sakka; Sujātā was Rāhula’s mother; but the king by Sakka’s gift was I myself.”
last updated: November 2021