Ja 237 Sāketajātaka
The Story about (the Brahmin) Sāketa (2s)

In the present an old brahmin greets the Buddha as his son, and calling his wife she too talks about him as her son. The Buddha tells how those who have been dear to each other in previous lives are dear also in their present lives.

The Bodhisatta = the son (putta),
the husband and wife = the brahmin and brahmini (brāhmaṇo ca brāhmaṇī ca).

Present and Past Source: Ja 68 Sāketa,
Quoted at: Ja 237 Sāketa,
Present and Past Compare: Dhp-a XVII.5 Sāketabrāhmaṇa.

Keywords: Attraction, Connection.

“Why are hearts cold.” This story the Teacher told during a stay near Sāketa, about a brahmin named Sāketa. Both the circumstances that suggested the story and the story itself have already been given in the First Book. [Ja 68. I include the story here.] [2.163]

This story was told by the Teacher, while at Añjanavana, about a certain brahmin. Tradition says that when the Fortunate One with his disciples was entering the city of Sāketa, an old brahmin of that place, who was going out, met him in the gateway. Falling at the One with Ten Powers’ feet, and clasping him by the ankles, the old man cried, “Son, is it not the duty of children to cherish the old age of their parents? Why have you not let us see you all this long time? At last I have seen you; come, let your mother see you too.” So saying, he took the Teacher with him to his house; and there the Teacher sat upon the seat prepared for him, with his disciples around him. Then came the brahmin’s wife, and she too fell at the feet of the Fortunate One, crying, “My son, where have you been all this time? Is it not the duty of children to comfort their parents in their old age?” Hereon, she called to her sons and daughters that their brother was come, and made them salute the Buddha. And in their joy the aged pair showed great hospitality to their guests. After his meal, the Teacher recited to the old people the Sutta concerning old-age; and, when he had ended, both husband and wife won fruition of the Second Path. Then rising up from his seat, the Teacher went back to Añjanavana.

Meeting together in the Dhamma Hall, the monks fell to talking about this thing. It was urged that the brahmin must have been well aware that Suddhodana was the father, and Mahāmāyā the mother, of the Tathāgata; yet none the less, he and his wife had claimed the Tathāgata as their own son – and that with the Teacher’s assent. What could it all mean? Hearing their talk, the Teacher said: “Monks, the aged pair were right in claiming me as their son.” And so saying, he told this story of the past.

Monks, in ages past this brahmin was my father in 500 successive births, my uncle in a like number, and in 500 more my grandfather. And in 1500 successive births his wife was respectively my mother, my aunt, and my grandmother. So I was brought up in 1500 births by this brahmin, and in 1500 by his wife. {2.235}

And when the Tathāgata had gone to the monastery, the monk asked, “How, sir, did the love begin?” and repeated the first verse:

1. “Why are hearts cold to one – O Buddha, tell!
And love another so exceeding well?”

The Teacher explained the nature of love by the second verse:

2. “Those love they who in other lives were dear,
As sure as grows the lotus in the mere.”

After this discourse was ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka, “These two people were the brahmin and his wife in the story; and I was their son.”