Ja 289 Nānacchandajātaka
The Story about Various Desires (3s)

Alternative Title: Nānacchandajātaka (Cst)

In the present the Buddha is growing older and is looking for a permanent attendant to help him. All are willing, but the Buddha turns them down. Ven. Ānanda says he will do it if he is granted eight boons, and he is chosen. The Buddha then tells a story of how a poor brahmin had seen a king escape from thieves and the boons he asked for his family.

The Bodhisatta = the king (of Benares) (rājā),
Ānanda = the brahmin (brāhmaṇa).

Present Source: Ja 456 Juṇha,
Quoted at: Ja 289 Nānacchanda.

Keywords: Recompense, Just reward.

“We live in one house.” This story the Teacher told in Jetavana, about the venerable Ānanda’s asking for eight boons. [Mistranslated in the original as “...taking a valuable article.”] The circumstances will be explained in the Juṇhajātaka [Ja 456], in the Eleventh Book. {2.427}

This story the Teacher told while dwelling at Jetavana about the boons received by elder Ānanda. During the twenty years of his first Buddhahood the Fortunate One’s attendants were not always the same: sometimes elder Nāgasamāla, sometimes Nāgita, Upavāṇa, Sunakkhatta, Cunda, Sāgala, sometimes Meghiya waited upon the Fortunate One. One day the Fortunate One said to the monks, “Now I am old, monks: and when I say, ‘Let us go in this way,’ some of the Saṅgha go by another way, some drop my bowl and robe on the ground. Choose out one monk to attend always upon me.”

Then they all rose up, beginning with elder Sāriputta, and laid their joined hands to their heads, crying, “I will serve you, sir, I will serve you!” But he refused them, saying: “Your prayer is forestalled! Enough.” Then the monks said to the elder Ānanda, “Do you, friend, ask for the post of attendant.” The elder said: “If the Fortunate One will not give me the robe which he himself has received, if he will not give me his dole of food, if he will not grant me to dwell in the same fragrant cell, if he will not have me with him to go where he is invited; but if the Fortunate One will go with me where I am invited, if I shall be granted to introduce the company at the moment of coming, which comes from foreign parts and foreign countries to see the Fortunate One, if I shall be granted to approach the Fortunate One as soon as doubt shall arise, if whenever the Fortunate One shall discourse in my absence he will repeat his discourse to me as soon as I shall return: then I will attend upon the Fortunate One.” These eight boons he craved, four negative and four positive. And the Fortunate One granted them to him.

After that he attended continually upon his Teacher for five and twenty years. So having obtained the preeminence in the five points, and having gained seven blessings – blessing of Dhamma, blessing of instruction, blessing of the knowledge of causes, blessing of inquiry as to one’s good, blessing of dwelling in a holy place, blessing of enlightened devotion, blessing of potential Buddhahood – in the presence of the Buddha he received the heritage of eight boons, and became famous in the Buddha’s dispensation, and shone as the moon in the heavens.

One day they began to talk about it in the Dhamma Hall, “Friend, the Tathāgata has satisfied elder Ānanda by granting his boons.” The Teacher entered, and asked, “What are you speaking of, monks, as you sit here?” They told him. Then he said: “It is not now the first time, monks, but in former days as now I satisfied Ānanda with a boon; in former days, as now, whatsoever he asked, I gave him.” And so saying, he told a story of the past.

In the past, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as the son of his queen consort. He grew up, and was educated at Taxila; and became king on his father’s death. There was a family priest of his father’s who had been removed from his post, and being very poor lived in an old house.

One night it happened that the king was walking about the city in disguise, to explore it. Some thieves, their work done, had been drinking in a wine-shop, and were carrying some more liquor home in a jar. They spied him there in the street, and crying, “Halloo, who are you?” they knocked him down, and took his upper robe; then, they picked up their jar, and off they went, scaring him the while.

The aforesaid brahmin chanced at the time to be in the street observing the constellations. He saw how the king had fallen into unfriendly hands, and called to his wife; quickly she came, asking what it was. Said he, is a mistake for so. “Wife, our king has got into the hands of his enemies!” “Why, [2.291] your reverence,” said she, “what dealings have you with the king? His brahmins will see to it.” This the king heard, and, going on a little, called out to the rascals, “I’m a poor man, masters – take my robe and let me go!” As he said this again and again, they let him go out of pity. He took note of the place they lived in, and turned back again.

Said the brahmin to his wife, “Wife, our king has got away from the hands of his enemies!” The king heard this as before; and entered his palace.

When dawn came, the king summoned his brahmins, and asked then a question. “Have you been taking observations?” “Yes, my lord.”

“Was it lucky or unlucky?” “Lucky, my lord.”

“No eclipse?” “No, my lord, none.”

Said the king, “Go and fetch me the brahmin from such and such a house,” giving them directions.

So they fetched the old family priest, and the king proceeded to question him. {2.428} “Did you take observations last night, master?” “Yes, my lord, I did.”

“Was there any eclipse?” “Yes, my lord: last night you fell into the hands of your enemies, and in a moment you got free again.”

The king said: “That is the kind of man a star-gazer ought to be.” He dismissed the other brahmins; he told the old one that he was pleased with him, and bade him ask a boon. The man asked leave to consult with his family, and the king allowed him.

The man summoned wife and son, daughter-in-law and maidservant, and laid the matter before them. “The king has granted me a boon; what shall I ask?”

Said the wife, “Get me a hundred milch kine.”

The son, named Chatta, said: “For me, a chariot drawn by fine lily-white thoroughbreds.”

Then the daughter-in-law, “For me, all manner of trinkets, earrings set with gems, and so forth!”

And the maidservant, whose name was Puṇṇā, “For me, a pestle and mortar, and a winnowing basket.”

The brahmin himself wanted to have the revenue of a village as his boon. So when he returned to the king, and the king wanted to know whether his wife had been asked, the brahmin replied, “Yes, my lord [2.292] king; but those who are asked are not all of one mind,” and he repeated a couple of verses:

1. “We live in one house, O king,
But we don’t all want the same thing.
My wife’s wish – a hundred kine;
A prosperous village is mine;

2. The student’s of course is a carriage and horses,
Our girl wants an earring fine.
While poor little Puṇṇā, the maid,
Wants pestle and mortar, she said!”

“All right,” said the king, “they shall all have what they want,” and repeated the remaining lines: {2.429}

3. “Give a hundred kine to the wife,
To the brahmin a village for life,
And a jewelled earring to the daughter:
A carriage and pair be the student’s share,
And the maid gets her pestle and mortar.” I hope the indulgent reader will pardon the rime.

Thus the king gave the brahmin what he wished, and great honour besides; and bidding him thenceforward busy himself about the king’s business, he kept the brahmin in attendance upon himself.

When the Teacher had ended this discourse, he identified the Jātaka, “At that time the brahmin was Ānanda, but the king was I myself.”