Ja 260 Dūtajātaka
The Story about (Belly’s) Messenger (3s)

In the present one monk is very greedy in all his doings, troubling the supporters with his excessive needs. The Buddha tells a story of man who, in order to eat at the king’s table, told him he had a message for him. Having eaten his fill he spoke on how greed is driven by the belly’s need, thereby pleasing the king.

The Bodhisatta = king Bhojanasuddhika (Bhojanasuddhikarājā),
the greedy monk = the greedy man (lolapurisa).

Present Source: Ja 434 Cakkavāka,
Quoted at: Ja 42 Kapota, Ja 260 Dūta, Ja 395 Kāka.

Keywords: Greed, Gluttony.

“O king, the belly’s messenger.” [2.221] This story the Teacher told while staying at Jetavana, about a monk who was addicted to covetousness. The circumstances will be given at large under the Kākajātaka [Ja 434], [Another name for Ja 434 Cakkavākajātaka. I include the story here.] in Book the Ninth.

He was, it was said, greedy after the Buddhist requisites and casting off all duties of master and pastor, entered Sāvatthi quite early, and after drinking excellent rice-gruel served with many a kind of solid food in the house of Visākhā, and after eating in the daytime various dainties, paddy, meat and boiled rice, not satisfied with this he went about thence to the house of Culla Anāthapiṇḍika, and the king of Kosala, and various others.

So one day a discussion was raised in the Dhamma Hall concerning his greediness. When the Teacher heard what they were discussing, he sent for that monk and asked him if it were true that he was greedy, and he said: “Yes.”

Here again the Teacher told the monk, {2.319} “You were greedy before, monk, as you are now; and in olden days for your greed you had your head cleft with a sword.” [The story must have had an alternative ending at one time. As it stands at present, the king is pleased with him, and praises his wisdom.] Then he told a story about the past.

In the past, when Brahmadatta was king over Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as his son. He grew up, and finished his education at Taxila. On his father’s death, he inherited the kingdom, and he was very dainty in his eating; accordingly he earned the name of king Bhojanasuddhika [Pure Food]. There was so much extravagance about his eating, that on one dish he spent a hundred thousand pieces. When he ate, he ate not within doors; but as he wished to confer merit The Talmud says that one should always run to meet the kings of Israel and even gentile kings. upon many people by showing them the costly array of his meals, he caused a pavilion adorned with jewels to be set up at the door, and at the time of eating, he had this decorated, and there he sat upon a royal dais made all of gold, under a white parasol with princesses all around him, and ate the food of a hundred delicate flavours from a dish which cost a hundred thousand pieces of money.

Now a certain greedy man saw the king’s manner of eating, and desired to have a taste. Unable to master his craving, he girt up his loins tight, and ran up to the king, calling out loudly, “Messenger! Messenger! O king” with his hands held up. (At that time and in that nation, if a man called out “Messenger!” no one would stay him; and so it was that the multitude divided and gave way for him to pass.)

The man ran up swiftly, and catching a piece of rice from the king’s dish, he put it in his mouth. The swordsman drew his sword, to cleave the man’s head. But the king stayed him. “Smite not,” said he; then to the man, “fear nothing, eat on!” He washed his hands, and sat down. [2.222] {2.320}

After the meal, the king caused his own drinking water and betel nut to be given to the man, and then said: “Now my man, you had tidings, you said. What are your tidings?”

“O king, I am a messenger from craving and the belly. Says craving to me, Go! And sent me here as her messenger,” and with these words he spake the first two verses:

1. “O king, the belly’s messenger you see:
O lord of chariots, do not angry be!
For belly’s sake men very far will go,
Even to ask a favour of a foe.

2. O king, the belly’s messenger you see;
O lord of chariots, do not angry be!
The belly holds beneath his puissant sway
All men upon the earth both night and day.”

When this the king heard, he said: “That is true; belly-messengers are these; urged by craving they go to and fro, and craving makes them go. How prettily this man has put it!” he was pleased with him, and uttered the third verse:

3. “Brahmin, a thousand red kine I present
To you; thereto the bull, for complement.
One messenger may to another give;
For belly’s messengers are all that live.”

So said the king; and continued, “I have heard something I never heard before, or thought of, said by this great man.” And so pleased was he, that he showered honours upon him. {2.321}

When the Teacher had ended this discourse, he declared the Truths and identified the Jātaka, at the conclusion of the Truths the greedy monk reached the Fruit of the Third Path, and many others entered the other Paths. “The greedy man is the same in both stories, and I was king Bhojanasuddhika.”