Ja 306 Sujātajātaka
The Story about (Queen) Sujātā (4s)

In the present when the king of Kosala and his queen have a falling out the Buddha reconciles them. He then tells a story of how in the past a fruit seller was raised to position of queen, and became so haughty her king wanted to send her away, until reconciled by the Bodhisatta.

The Bodhisatta = the minister (amacca),
(queen) Mallikā = (queen) Sujātā,
Kosalarājā = the king of Benares (Bārāṇasirājā).

Keywords: Reconciliation, Harmony.

“What is this egg-shaped fruit.” This story was told by the Teacher while dwelling at Jetavana, about queen Mallikā. One day, they say, there was a dispute at court between her and the king. Pasenadi, king of Kosala. The king was so enraged that he [3.14] ignored her existence. Mallikā thought: “The Teacher, I fancy, knows not how angry the king is with me.” But the Teacher knew all about it and resolved to make peace between them. So early in the morning he put on his inner garment and taking his bowl and robes he entered Sāvatthi with a following of five hundred monks and came to the palace gate. The king took his bowl from the Tathāgata, brought him into the house, and placing him on the seat prepared for him, poured the Water of Donation on the hands of the Saṅgha with Buddha at their head, and brought them rice and cakes to eat. But the Teacher covered up his bowl with his hand and said: “Sire, where is the queen?”

“What have you to do with her, venerable sir?” he answered. “Her head is turned, she is intoxicated with the honour she enjoys.”

“Sire,” he said, “after you yourself bestowed this honour on the woman, it is wrong of you now to get rid of her, and not to put up with the offence she has committed against you.”

The king hearkened to the words of the Teacher and sent for the queen. {3.21}

And she ministered to the Teacher. “You ought,” he said, “to live together in peace,” and singing the praises of the sweets of concord he went his way. And from that day they lived happily together.

The monks raised a discussion in the Dhamma Hall, how that the Teacher had reconciled the king and queen by a single word. The Teacher, when he came, inquired what the monks were discussing, and on being told said: “Not only now, monks, but formerly too I reconciled them by a single word of admonition.” And he told a story of the past.

In the past when Brahmadatta was king at Benares, the Bodhisatta was his minister and his temporal and spiritual adviser.

Now one day the king stood at an open window looking into the palace court. And at this very moment the daughter of a fruit seller, a beautiful girl in the flower of her youth, stood with a basket of jujubes on her head crying, “Jujubes, ripe jujubes, who’ll buy my jujubes?” But she did not venture into the royal court. Reading rājaṅgaṇe na gacchati. With Fausböll’s text rājaṅgaṇena, it must be “She passed by way of the court.”

And the king no sooner heard her voice than he fell in love with her, and when he learned that she was unmarried he sent for her and raised her to the dignity of chief queen, and bestowed great honour upon her. Now she was dear and pleasing in the king’s eyes. And one day the king sat eating jujubes in a golden dish. And the queen Sujātā, when she saw the king eating jujubes, asked him, saying: “My lord, what in the world are you eating? “And she uttered the first verse:

1. “What is this egg-shaped fruit, my lord, so pretty and red of hue,
In a gold dish set before you? Pray tell me, where they grew.”

And the king was angry and said: “O daughter of a greengrocer, dealer in ripe jujubes, do you not recognise the jujubes, the special fruit of your own family?” And he repeated two verses: {3.22}

2. “Bare-headed and meanly clad, my queen, you once did feel no shame,
To fill your lap with the jujube fruit, and now you do ask its name;

3. You are eaten up with pride, my queen, you findest no pleasure in life,
Begone and gather your jujubes again. You shall be no longer my wife.” [3.15]

Then the Bodhisatta thought: “No one, except myself, will be able to reconcile this pair. I will appease the king’s anger and prevent him from turning her out of doors.” Then he repeated the fourth verse:

4. “These are the wrongs of a woman, my lord, promoted to high estate:
Forgive her and cease from thine anger, O king, for ’twas you did make her great.”

So the king at his word put up with the offence of the queen and restored her to her former position. And thenceforth they lived amicably together.

The Teacher, his lesson ended, identified the Jātaka, “At that time the king of Kosala was king of Benares, Mallikā was Sujātā and I myself was the minister.”