Ja 229 Palāyijātaka
The Story about (the King) who Fled (2s)

Alternative Title: Palāyitajātaka (Cst)

In the present one ascetic goes about arguing with all he meets, when he comes to Jetavana he is intimidated by the size of the gate, and decides not to enter and argue. The Buddha tells a story of a mighty king who got up a huge army, but when he saw the gate of the city he intended to overthrow he was intimidated and decided to withdraw.

The Bodhisatta = the king of Taxila (Takkasilarājā),
the roaming wanderer = the king of Benares (Bārāṇasirājā).

Past Compare: Ja 229 Palāyi, Ja 230 Dutiyapalāyi.

Keywords: Overestimation, Vanity.

“Lo, my elephants.” This story the Teacher told at Jetavana, about a mendicant, with vagrant tastes.

He traversed the whole of Jambudīpa for the purpose of arguing, and found no one to contradict him. At last he got as far as Sāvatthi, and asked was there any one there who could argue with him. The people said: “There is one who could argue with a thousand such – all-wise, chief of men, the mighty Gotama, lord of the faith, who bears down all opposition, there is no adversary in all Jambudīpa who can dispute with him. As the billows break upon the shore, so all arguments break against his feet, and are dashed to spray.” Thus they described the qualities of the Buddha. [2.152]

“Where is he now?” asked the mendicant. “He is at Jetavana,” they replied. “Now I’ll get up a debate with him!” said the mendicant. So attended by a large crowd he made his way to Jetavana. On seeing the gate towers of Jetavana, The Jetavana monastery is represented on the Bhārhut Stūpa (Cunningham, pl. LVII); for the gandhakuṭī, see pl. xxviii, fig. 3. which prince Jeta had built at a cost of ninety millions of money, he asked whether that was the palace where the ascetic Gotama lived. The gateway of it, they said. “If this be the gateway, what will the dwelling be like!” he cried. “There’s no end to the perfumed chambers!” the people said. “Who could argue with such a monk as this?” he asked; and hurried off at once.

The crowd shouted for joy, and thronged into the park. “What brings you here before your time?” asked the Teacher. They told him what had happened. Said he, “This is not the first time, laymen, that he hurried away at the mere sight of the gateway of my dwelling. He did the same before.” And at their request, he told a story of the past. {2.217}

In the past, it befell that the Bodhisatta reigned as king in Taxila, of the realm of Gandhāra, and Brahmadatta in Benares. Brahmadatta resolved to capture Taxila; wherefore with a great host he set forth, and took up a position not far from the city, and set his army in array, “Here be the elephants, here the horses, the chariots here, and here the footmen: thus do you charge and hurl with your weapons; as the clouds pour forth rain, so pour you forth a rain of arrows!” and he uttered this pair of verses:

1. “Lo, my elephants and horses, like the storm-cloud in the sky!
Lo, my surging sea of chariots shooting arrow-spray on high!
Lo, my host of warriors, striking sword in hand, with blow and thrust,
Closing in upon the city, till their foes shall bite the dust!

2. Rush against them – fall upon them! Shout the war-cry – loudly sing!
While the elephants in concert raise a clamorous trumpeting!
As the thunder and the lightning flash and rumble in the sky,
So be now your voice uplifted in the loud long battle-cry!” {2.218}

So cried the king. And he made his army march, and came before the gate of the city; and when he saw the towers on the city gate, he asked whether that was the king’s dwelling. “That,” they said, “is the gate tower.” “If the gate tower be such as this, of what sort will the king’s palace be?” he asked. And they replied, “Like to Vejayanta, the palace of Sakka!” On hearing it, the king said: “With so glorious a king we shall never be able to fight!” And having seen no more than the tower set upon the city gate, he turned and fled away, and came again to Benares.

This discourse ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka, “Our mendicant wanderer was then the king of Benares, and I was the king of Taxila myself.”