Ja 213 Bharujātaka
The Story about (the King of) Bharu (2s)

In the present the heterodox sects are losing out because of the popularity of the Buddha and the Saṅgha, and decide to bribe the king so they can build a monastery alongside the Jetavana. The Buddha tells the king a story of how two groups of ascetics were turned against each other and tried bribing the king for his favour, before realising their mistake and leaving for more remote dwellings.

The Bodhisatta = the elder seer (jeṭṭhaka-isi).

Keywords: Heretics, Jealousy.

“The king of Bharu.” This story the Teacher told while staying at Jetavana, about the king of Kosala.

Now we read that magnificent presents were made to the Fortunate One and his company, and they were held in great respect, as it is written: ‘At that time the Fortunate One was honoured and revered, respected, reverenced, highly esteemed, and received rich presents – robes, food, lodgement, drugs and medicines, and provisions; and the Saṅgha was honoured, etc. (as before); but the pilgrims of heterodox schools were not honoured, etc. (as before).” This appears to be a regular formula; the Sanskrit equivalent occurs in Divyāvadāna, p. 91. Well, the sectaries, finding that honour and gifts diminished, convened a secret meeting for deliberation. “Since the appearance of the ascetic Gotama,” they said, {2.170} “honour and gifts come no more to us, but he has got the best of both. What can be the reason of his good fortune?” Then one of them spoke as follows. “Ascetic Gotama has the best and chief place in all Jambudīpa to live in, and that is the reason of his success.” Then the others said: “If this is the reason, we will make a rival settlement above Jetavana, and then we shall receive presents.” This was the conclusion they came to. [2.119]

“But,” thought they, “if we make our settlement unknown to the king, the monks will prevent us. If he accepts a present, he will not be disinclined to break up their settlement. So we had best bribe him to give us a place for ours.”

So by the intervention of his courtiers, they offered a hundred thousand pieces to the king, with this message, “Great king, we want to make a rival settlement in Jetavana. If the monks tell you they won’t permit it, please do not give them any answer.” To this the king agreed, because he wanted the bribe.

After thus conciliating the king, the schismatics got an architect and put the work in hand. There was a good deal of noise about it.

“What is all this great noise and tumult, Ānanda?” the Teacher asked. “The noise,” said he, “is some sectaries who are having a new settlement built.” “That is not a fit place,” he rejoined, “for them to settle. These sectaries are fond of noise; there’s no living with them.” Then he called the Saṅgha together, and bade them go inform the king, and have the building put a stop to.

The monks went and stood by the palace door. The king, as soon as he heard of their coming, knew they must be come about stopping the new settlement. But he had been bribed, and so he ordered his attendants to say the king was not at home. The monks went back and told the Teacher. The Teacher guessed that a bribe had been given, and sent his two chief disciples. Sāriputta and Moggallāna. But the king, as soon as he heard of their coming, gave the same order as before; and they too returned and told the Teacher. The Teacher said: “Doubtless the king is not able to stay at home today; he must be out.”

Next forenoon, he dressed himself, took his bowl and robe, and with five hundred monks walked to the door of the palace. The king heard them come; he descended from the upper story, and took from the Buddha his alms-bowl. Then he gave rice and gruel to him and his followers, and with a salutation sat down on one side.

The Teacher began an exposition for the king’s benefit, in these words. “Great king, other kings in by-gone days have taken bribes, and then by making virtuous people quarrel together have been dispossessed of their kingdom, and been utterly destroyed.” And then, at his request, the Teacher told a story of the past. {2.171}

In the past, king Bharu was reigning over the kingdom of Bharu. At the same time the Bodhisatta was teacher of a group of monks. He was an ascetic who had acquired the five Super Knowledges and eight Attainments; and he dwelt a long time in the region of the Himālayas.

He came down from the Himālayas to buy salt and seasoning, followed by five hundred ascetics; and they came by stages to the city of Bharu. He went begging through the city; and then coming forth from it, he sat down by the northern gate, at the root of a banyan tree all covered with twigs and branches. There he made a meal, and there he took up his abode.

Now when that band of ascetics had dwelt there for the space of half a moon, there came another teacher with another five hundred, who went seeking alms about the city, and then came out and sat beneath just such [2.120] another banyan tree by the south gate, and ate, and dwelt there. And the two bands abode there so long as they would, and then returned again to the Himālayas.

When they had gone, the tree by the south gate withered away. Next time, they who had dwelt under it came first, and perceiving that their tree was withered, they first went on their rounds throughout the city, seeking alms, and then passing out by the northern gate, they ate and lived under the banyan tree that was by that gate. And the other band, coming afterwards, went their rounds in the city, and then made ready their meal and would have dwelt by their own tree. “This is not your tree, ’tis ours!” they cried; and they began to quarrel about the tree. The quarrel waxed great; these said: “Take not the place where we dwelt previously!” and those, “This time we came first; do not you take it!” So crying aloud each that they were the owners of it, they all went to the king’s palace.

The king ordered that they who had first dwelt there should hold it. {2.172} Then the others thought: “We will not allow ourselves to say that we have been beaten by these!” They looked about them with divine vision, One of the Abhiññās or Spiritual Knowledges; see above. and observing the body of a chariot fit for an emperor to use, they took it and offered it as a gift to the king, begging him to give them too possession of the tree. He took their gift, and ordained that both should dwell under the tree; and so they were there all masters together. Then the other ascetics fetched the jewelled wheels of the same chariot, and offered them to the king, praying him, “O mighty king, make us to possess the tree alone!” And the king did so.

Then the ascetics repented, and said: “To think that we, who have overcome the love of riches and the lust of the flesh, and have renounced the world, should fall to quarrelling by reason of a tree, and offer bribes for it! This is no seemly thing.” And they went away in all haste till they came to the Himālayas. And all the spirits that dwelt in the realm of Bharu with one mind were angry with the king, and they brought up the sea, and for the space of three hundred leagues they made the kingdom of Bharu as though it were not. And so for the sake of the king of Bharu alone, all the inhabitants of the kingdom perished thus.

When the Teacher had ended this tale, after Fully Awakening, he uttered the following verses:

1. “The king of Bharu, as old stories say,
Made holy ascetics quarrel on a day:
For which wrong it happened that he fell dead,
And with him all his kingdom perished. [2.121]

2. Wherefore the wise do not approve at all
When that desire into the heart does fall.
He that is free from guile, whose heart is pure,
All that he says is ever true and sure.” In commenting upon this line, the Commentator says: “And those who at that time spoke the truth, blaming king Bharu for taking a bribe, found standing room upon a thousand islands which are yet to he seen today about the island of Nāḷikera.” {2.173}

When the Teacher had ended this story, he added, “Great king, one should not be under the power of desire. Two ascetics ought not to quarrel together.” Then he identified the Jātaka, “In those days, I was the leader of the sages.” When the king had entertained the Tathāgata, and he had departed, the king sent some men and had the rival settlement destroyed, and the sectaries became homeless.