Ja 217 Seggujātaka
The Story about (Daughter) Seggu (2s)

In the present a layman doesn’t visit the Buddha for a long time while arranging his daughter’s marriage. The Buddha tells a story of a greengrocer in the past who tested his daughter before giving her in marriage to a suitable young man.

The Bodhisatta = the Tree Devatā (Rukkhadevatā),
the father = the same in the past (pitā),
the daughter = the same in the past (dhītā).

Keywords: Virtue, Devas, Women.

“All the world’s on pleasure bent.” [2.126] This story the Teacher told, while dwelling at Jetavana, about a greengrocer who was a lay brother.

The circumstances have already been given in the First Book. No. 102 Paṇṇikajātaka, where recurs the second verse.

This story was told by the Teacher while at Jetavana, about a lay brother who was a greengrocer in Sāvatthi and made a living by the sale of various roots and vegetables, and pumpkins and the like. Now he had a pretty daughter who was as good and virtuous as she was pretty, but was always laughing. And when she was asked in marriage by a family of his own station in life, he thought: “She ought to be married, but she’s always laughing; and a bad girl married into a strange family is her parents’ shame. I must find out for certain whether she is a good girl or not.”

So one day he made his daughter take a basket and come with him to the forest to gather herbs. Then to try her, he took her by the hand with whispered words of love. Straightaway the girl burst into tears and began to cry out that such a thing would be as monstrous as fire rising out of water, and she besought him to forbear. Then he told her that his only intent was to try her, and asked whether she was virtuous. And she declared that she was and that she had never looked on any man with eyes of love. Calming her fears and taking her back home, he made a feast and gave her in marriage. Then feeling that he ought to go and pay his respects to the Teacher, he took perfumes and garlands in his hand and went to Jetavana.

Here again the Teacher asked him where he had been so long; and he replied, “My daughter, sir, is always smiling. After testing her, I gave her in marriage to a young gentleman. As this had to be done, I had no opportunity of paying you a visit.” To this the Teacher answered, “Not only now is your daughter virtuous, but virtuous she was in days of yore; and as you have tested her now, so you tested her in those days.” And at the man’s request he told a story of the past.

In the past, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was a Tree Devatā.

This same pious greengrocer took it into his head to test his daughter. He led her into the woods, {2.180} and seized her by the hand, making as though he had conceived a passion for her. And as she cried out in woe, he addressed her in the words of the first verse:

1. “All the world’s on pleasure bent;
Ah, my baby innocent!
Now I’ve caught you, pray don’t cry;
As the town does, so do I.”

When she heard it, she answered, “Dear Father, I am a maid, and I know not the lust of the flesh,” and weeping she uttered the second verse:

2. “He that should keep me safe from all distress,
The same betrays me in my loneliness;
My father, who should be my sure defence,
Here in the forest offers violence.”

And the greengrocer, after testing his daughter thus, took her home, and gave her in marriage to a young man. Afterwards he passed away and traveled on according to his deeds.

When the Teacher had ended this discourse, he declared the Truths and identified the Jātaka, at the end of the Truths the greengrocer entered on the Fruit of the First Path, “In those days, father and daughter were the same as now, and the Tree Devatā that saw it all was I myself.”