Ja 291 Bhadraghaṭajātaka
The Story about the Lucky Cup (3s)
Alternative Title: Surāghaṭajātaka (Cst)
In the present a nephew of Anāthapiṇḍika’s loses all the money ever given to him, and dies in a sorry state. The Buddha tells a story of a past life in which the same person had been given a lucky cup by Sakka, but had been careless and broken it, and died in poverty.
The Bodhisatta = (the King of the Devas) Sakka,
(Anāthapiṇḍika’s) nephew = the scoundrel who broke the liquor cup (surāghaṭabhedako dhutto).
Keywords: Never-do-well, Fortune.
“A ne’er-do-well did once.”
In the past, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as a rich merchant’s son; and after his father’s death, took his place. In his house was buried a treasure of four hundred million. He had an only son. The Bodhisatta gave alms and did good until he died, and then he came to life again as Sakka, King of the Devas. His son proceeded to make a pavilion across the road, and sat down with many friends round him, to drink. He paid a thousand pieces to runners and tumblers, singers and dancers, and passed his time in drinking, gluttony, and debauchery; he wandered about, asking only for song, music, and dancing, devoted to his boon-companions, sunk in sloth. So in a short time he squandered all his treasure of four hundred millions,
Sakka, as he meditated, became aware how poor he was. Overcome with love for his son, he gave him a Wishing Cup, with these words, “Son, take care not to break this cup. So long as you keep it, your wealth will never come to an end. So take good care of it!” and then he returned to heaven.
After that the man did nothing but drink out of it. One day, he was drunk, and threw the cup into the air, catching it as it fell. But once he missed it. Down it fell upon the earth, and smashed! Then he got poor again, and went about in rags, begging, bowl in hand, till at last he lay down by a wall, and died.
When the Teacher had finished this tale, he went on:
1. “A ne’er-do-well did once a bowl acquire,
A bowl that gave hire all his heart’s desire.
And of this bowl so long as he took care,
His fortunes were all fair.
2. When, proud and drunken, in a careless hour,
He broke the bowl that gave him all this power,
Naked, poor fool! In rags and tatters, he
Fell in great misery.
3. Not otherwise whoso great fortune owes,
But in the enjoying it no measure knows,
Is scorched anon, even as the cheat – poor soul!
That broke his Wishing Bowl.”
He repeated these verses after Fully Awakening
Then he identified the Jātaka, “At that time Anāthapiṇḍika’s nephew was the rascal who broke the Lucky Cup, but I myself was Sakka.”
last updated: November 2021