Ja 234 Asitābhujātaka
The Story about (Princess) Asitābhū (2s)

Alternative Title: Asitābhūjātaka (Cst)

In the present one young woman is despised by her husband, listens to Dhamma, enters the path, ordains and becomes Awakened. The Buddha tells a story in which she gained high Attainments in a similar story from a previous life.

The Bodhisatta = the ascetic (tāpasa),
the husband and wife = the prince and princess (rājaputto ca rājadhītā ca).

Keywords: Aspiration, Attainment, Devas, Women.

“Now desire has gone.” This story the Teacher told while staying at Jetavana, about a young girl.

Tradition tells us that a certain man at Sāvatthi, a servant of the Teacher’s two chief disciples, had one beautiful and happy daughter. When she grew [2.159] up, she married into a family as good as her own. The husband, without consulting anybody, used to enjoy himself elsewhere at his own sweet will. She took no notice of his disrespect; but invited the two chief disciples, made them presents, and listened to their preaching, until she reached the Fruit of the First Path. After this she spent all her time in the enjoyment of the Path and the Fruit; at last, thinking that as her husband did not want her, there was no need for her to remain in the household, she determined to embrace the ascetic life. She informed her parents of her plan, carried it out, and became a saint.

Her story became known amongst the Saṅgha; and one day they were discussing it in the Dhamma Hall. “Friend, the daughter of such and such a family strives to attain the highest good. Finding that her husband did not care for her, she made rich presents to the chief disciples, listened to their preaching, and gained the Fruit of the First Path; she took leave of her parents, became an ascetic, and then a saint. So, friend, the girl sought the highest good.” While they were talking, the Teacher came in and asked what it was all about. They told him. He said: “This is not the first time, monks, that she seeks the highest; she did so in olden days as well.” And he told a story of the past.

In the past, when Brahmadatta was king in Benares, the Bodhisatta was living as an ascetic, in the Himālayas region; and he had cultivated the Super Knowledges and Attainments. Then the king of Benares, observing how magnificent was the pomp of his son prince Brahmadatta, was filled with suspicion, and banished his son from the realm. {2.230}

The youth with his wife Asitābhū made their way to the Himālayas, and took up his abode in a hut of leaves, with fish to eat, and all manner of wild fruits. He saw a woodland Kinnarī, and became enamoured of her. “Her will I make my wife!” said he, and not thinking of Asitābhū, he followed after her steps. His wife seeing that he followed after the Kinnarī, was angry. “The man cares nought for me,” she thought, “what have I to do with him?” So she came to the Bodhisatta, and did him reverence: she learned what she must needs do to be initiated, and by focusing on the Meditation Object, she developed the Super Knowledges and Attainments, bade the Bodhisatta farewell, and returning stood at the door of her hut of leaves.

Now Brahmadatta followed the Kinnarī, but saw not by what way she went; and baulked of his desire he set his face again for the hut. Asitābhū saw him coming, and rose up in the air; and poised upon a plane in the air of the colour of a precious stone, she said to him, “My young lord! ’Tis through you that I have attained this Absorption!” and she uttered the first verse:

1. “Now desire has gone,
Thanks to you, and found its ending:
Like a tusk, once sawn,
None can make it one by mending.” [2.160]

So saying, as he looked, she rose up and departed to another place. And when she had gone, he uttered the second verse, lamenting: {2.231}

2. “Greed that knows no stay,
Lust, the senses all confusing,
Steals our good away,
Even as now my wife I’m losing.”

And having moaned in this verse, he dwelt alone in the forest, and at his father’s death he received the sovereignty.

After this discourse was ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka, “These two people were then the prince and princess, and I was the ascetic.”