Ja 310 Sayhajātaka
The Story about (the Minister) Sayha (4s)

Alternative Title: Seyyajātaka (Cst)

In the present one monk is discontent with his life. When the Buddha hears about it he tells him a story about two friends. After their education one was raised to be king, but the other went into the forests to become an ascetic. When the king sent for him to be his family priest, he refused despite the honour, as he would then be a party to the oppression of others.

The Bodhisatta = the family priest’s son (purohitaputta),
Sāriputta = (the minister) Sayha,
Ānanda = the king (of Benares) (rājā).

Keywords: Renunciation, Fear of wrongdoing.

“No throne on earth.” The Teacher told this story while in residence at Jetavana, about a discontented monk, who in going his rounds for alms at Sāvatthi caught sight of a beautiful woman, and thenceforth had grown discontented and lost all pleasure in the dispensation. So the monks brought him before the Fortunate One. Said the Fortunate One, “Is it true, monk, what I hear, that you are discontented?” He confessed it was so. The Teacher on learning the cause of his discontent said: “Why, monk, are you longing for the world, after taking ordination in a dispensation that leads to safety? Wise men of old when offered the dignity of being a family priest rejected it, and adopted the ascetic life.” And he told them a story of the past.

In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was conceived in the womb of the brahmin wife of the king’s family priest, {3.31} and was born on the same day as the king’s son. And when the king asked his ministers if any child had been born on the same day as his son, they said: “Yes, sire, a son of your family priest.” So the king had him brought and given into the charge of nurses to be carefully tended together with the young prince. And they both had the same ornaments to wear and had exactly the same things to eat and drink. [3.21]

And when they were grown up, they went together to Taxila and as soon as they had attained proficiency in all the sciences they returned home.

The king made his son viceroy and bestowed great honour upon him. From that time the Bodhisatta ate, drank, and lived with the prince, and there was a firm friendship between them. By and by at the death of his father, the young prince ascended the throne and enjoyed great prosperity. Thought the Bodhisatta, “My friend now rules the kingdom; when he sees a fitting opportunity, he will certainly give me the office of his family priest. What have I to do with a householder’s life? I will become an ascetic and devote myself to solitude.”

So he saluted his parents and having asked their permission to take ordination, he gave up his worldly fortune and setting forth quite alone he entered the Himālayas. There on a charming spot he built himself a hermitage, and adopting the ascetic life he developed the Super Knowledges and Attainments, and lived in the enjoyment of the pleasure of the Absorptions.

At this time the king remembered him and said: “What has become of my friend? He is nowhere to be seen.” His ministers told him he had taken ordination, and was living, they heard, in some delightful grove. The king asked the place of his abode, and said to a councillor named Sayha, “Go and bring my friend back with you. I will make him my family priest.” Sayha readily assented, and going forth from Benares in course of time reached a frontier village and taking up his abode there, he went with some foresters to the place where the Bodhisatta dwelt and found him sitting like a golden statue at the door of his hut. After saluting him with the usual compliments he sat at a respectful distance and thus addressed him, “Venerable sir, the king desires your return, being anxious to raise you to the dignity of his family priest.” {3.32} The Bodhisatta replied, “If I were to receive not merely the post of family priest but all of Kāsi and Kosala, and the realm of Jambudīpa and the glory of a Universal Empire, I would refuse to go. The wise do not again take up the defilements they have once abandoned any more than they would swallow the phlegm they have once spat out.” So saying he repeated these verses: These verses occur again in Ja 433 Lomasakassapajātaka.

1. “No throne on earth should tempt me to my shame,
No sea-girt realm, safe-guarded in the deep.

2. Accurséd be the lust of wealth and fame
That dooms poor man in suffering worlds to weep.

3. Better through earth a homeless waif to stray,
And bowl in hand to beg from door to door.

4. Than as a king, to sinful sensual desires a prey,
To bear a tyrant rule and vex the poor.” [3.22]

Thus did the Bodhisatta though again and again importuned by him reject his offer. And Sayha, being unable to prevail on him, saluted him, and returned and told the king of his refusal to come. {3.33}

When the Teacher had brought his lesson to an end, he revealed the Truths and identified the Jātaka. At the conclusion of the Truths the discontented monk attained to fruition of the First Path. Many others too experienced like fruits of various Attainments, “At that time Ānanda was the king, Sāriputta was Sayha, and I myself was the family priest.”