Ja 256 Jarudapānajātaka
The Story about the Old Well (3s)
Alternative Title: Jarūdapānajātaka (Cst)
In the present some merchants leave from Jetavana to go and make their fortune. When they come across a well and start digging they find great riches, and soon return again. The Buddha tells a story of how some people in a past life had found similar riches but refused to stop digging and were killed by the Nāgas who got angry at the destruction.
The Bodhisatta = the elder caravan leader (satthavāhajeṭṭhaka),
Sāriputta = the king of the Nāgas (Nāgarājā).
Keywords: Greed, Moderation, Devas.
“Some merchants.” This story the Teacher told while living at Jetavana, about some traders whose home was at Sāvatthi.
The tradition is that these men had acquired wares in Sāvatthi, which they loaded on carts. ‘When the time came for them to set about their business, they gave an invitation to the Tathāgata, and offered him rich alms; they received the Refuges, were strengthened in the Precepts, and took their leave of the Teacher with these words, “Sir, we are going a long way. When we have parted with our wares, if we are fortunate and return in safety, we will come and wait upon you again.” Then they set off on their journey.
In a difficult part of their road they observed a disused well. There was no water in it that they could see, and they were athirst; so they resolved to dig deeper. As they dug,
In the past, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born into the family of a business man; and grew up to be a great merchant. At one time he had filled his wagons with goods, and in company with a large caravan he came to this very same wood and saw this very same well. No sooner had the traders seen it, than they wanted to drink, and began to dig, and as they dug they came upon a
Then said the Bodhisatta to them, “Merchants, greed is the root of destruction. You have won a great deal of wealth; with this be content, and dig no more.” But they digged yet the more notwithstanding.
Now this well was haunted by serpents. The Nāga king, incensed at the falling of clods and earth, slew them with the breath of his nostrils, Nāsikavātena. Perhaps this throws light on the disease ahivātarogo, p. 55 note. all saving the Bodhisatta,
The Teacher, after telling this tale, after Fully Awakening, uttered the following lines:
1. “Some merchants, wanting water, dug the ground
In an old well, and there a treasure found:
Tin, iron, copper, lead, silver and gold,
Beryls and pearls and jewels manifold.
2. But not content, still more they did desire,
And fiery serpents slew them all with fire.
Dig if you will, but dig not to excess;
For too much digging is a wickedness.
3. Digging bestowed a treasure on these men;
But too much digging lost it all again.”
When the Teacher had finished this discourse, he identified the Jātaka, “At that time, Sāriputta was the Nāga king, and the master of the caravan was I myself.”
last updated: November 2021