Ja 293 Kāyavicchindajātaka
The Story about cutting off the Body (3s)

Alternative Title: Kāyanibbindajātaka (Cst)

In the present one man falls ill and vows if he ever recovers he will become a monk, which he did, and he soon attained Arahatship. The Buddha tells a similar story from the past in which a man recovering from illness had become an ascetic.

The Bodhisatta = the ascetic (tāpasa).

Keywords: Dedication, Truth seeking.

“Down smitten with a direful illness.” This story the Teacher told at Jetavana about a certain man. We learn that there lived at Sāvatthi a man tormented by jaundice, given up by the doctors as a hopeless case. His wife and [2.298] son wondered who could be found to cure him. The man thought: “If I can only get rid of this disease, I will take to the ascetic life.” Now it happened that some days after he took something that did him good, and got well. Then he went to Jetavana, and asked admission into the Saṅgha. He received the lower and higher ordination from the Teacher, and before long became an Arahat. One day after this the monks were talking together in the Dhamma Hall, “Friend, So and so had jaundice, and vowed that if he got well he would embrace the ascetic life; he did so, and now he has became an Arahat.” The Teacher came in, and asked what they talked about, sitting there together. {2.437} They told him. Then he said: “Monks, this is not the only man who has done so. Long ago wise men, recovering from sickness, embraced an ascetic life, and secured their own advantage.” And he told a story of the past.

In the past, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was born in a brahmin family. He grew up, and began to amass wealth: but he fell sick of the jaundice. Even the physicians could do nothing for him, and his wife and family were in despair. He resolved that if he ever got well, he would embrace the ascetic life; and having taken something that did him good, he did get well, whereupon he went away to the Himālayas and became an ascetic. He cultivated the Super Knowledges and Attainments, and dwelt in happiness of Absorption. “All this time,” he thought: “I have been without this great happiness!” and he uttered this exalted utterance:

1. “Down smitten with a direful illness, I
In utter torment and affliction lie,
My body quickly withers, like a flower
Laid in the sun upon the dust to dry.

2. The noble seems ignoble, and pure the impure seems,
He that is blind, all beautiful a sink of foulness deems.

3. Shame on that sickly body, shame, I say,
Loathsome, impure, and full of foul decay!
When fools are indolent, they fail to win
New birth in heaven, and wander from the way.” {2.438}

Thus did the Great Being describe in various ways the nature of impurity and constant disease, and being disgusted with the body and all its parts, cultivated all his life the four Divine Abidings, till he went to the Brahmā Realm.

When the Teacher had ended this discourse, he proclaimed the Truths, and identified the Jātaka – many were they who attained the fruition of the First Path, and so forth. “At that time I myself was the ascetic.”