Ja 320 Succajajātaka
The Story about Little Cost (4s)
In the present when a landowner is returning to town with his wife she asks him if he would give her anything from a mountain of gold, and he replies he would not. The Buddha tells a story of a prince in exile who said the same thing to his wife, but when he was able to, he gave her dominion over all.
The Bodhisatta = the wise minister (paṇḍitāmacca),
the householder = the king of Benares (Bārāṇasirājā),
the lay woman = the queen (devī).
Keywords: Deserts, Recompense.
“He might give.” This story was told by the Teacher, while residing at Jetavana, with regard to a certain landowner. According to the story he went to a village with his wife to retrieve a debt, and seizing a cart in satisfaction for what was due to him he deposited it with a certain family, intending to fetch it
When they drew near to Jetavana, feeling thirsty, they went into the monastery, and had some water to drink.
In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was his minister, rendering him all due service. One day the king saw his son, who acted as his viceroy, coming to pay his respects to him. He thought to himself, “This fellow may do me wrong, if he gets an opportunity.” So he sent for him and said: “As long as I live, you cannot dwell in this city. Live somewhere else, and at my death rule the kingdom.” He agreed to these conditions, and bidding his father farewell he started from Benares with his chief wife. On coming to a frontier village, he built himself a hut of leaves in a wood, and stayed there, supporting life on wild roots and fruit.
By and by the king died. The young viceroy, from his observation of the stars, knew of his father’s death, and as he journeyed to Benares, a mountain came into sight. His wife said to him, “Supposing, sir, yonder mountain were turned into pure gold, would you give me some of it?” “Who are you?” he cried, “I would not give you an atom.” She thought: “Through my love for him I entered this forest, not having the heart to desert him, and he speaks to me thus.
On reaching Benares he was established on the throne and raised her to the dignity of chief queen. He merely gave her titular rank, but beyond this he paid her no respect or honour, and did not even recognize her existence. Thought the Bodhisatta, “This queen was helpmate to the king, not counting the pain, and dwelt with him in the wilderness. But he, taking no count of this, goes about, taking his pleasure with other women. But I will bring it about that she shall receive lordship over
With this thought he went one day and saluting her said: “Lady, we do not receive from you so much as a lump of rice. Why are you so hard-hearted, and why do you thus neglect us?” “Friend,” she replied, “if I myself were to receive anything, I would give it you, but if I get nothing, what am I to give? What, pray, is the king likely to give me? On the road here, when asked, ‘If yonder mountain were all pure gold, would you give me anything?’ he answered, ‘Who are you? I would give you nothing.’ ” “Well, could you repeat all this before the king?” he said. “Why should I not, friend?” she answered. “Then when I stand in the king’s presence,” he said: “I will ask and you shall repeat it.” “Agreed, friend,” she said.
So the Bodhisatta, when he stood and paid his respects to the king, asked the queen, saying: “Are we not, lady, to receive anything at your hands?” “Sir,” she answered, “when I get anything, I will give you something. But, pray, what is the king likely to give me now? When we were coming from the forest, and a mountain came into sight, I asked him, ‘If yonder mountain were all pure gold, would you give me some of it?’ ‘Who are you?’ he said, ‘I will give you nothing.’ And in these words he refused what it was easy to give.”
1. “He might give at little cost
What he would not miss, if lost.
Golden mountains I bestow;
He to all I ask says ‘No.’ ”
The king on hearing this uttered the second verse:
2. “When you can, say, ‘Yes, I will,’
When you cannot, promise nil.
Broken promises are lies;
Liars all wise men despise.”
The queen, when she heard this, raising her joined hands in respectful salutation, repeated the third verse:
3. “Standing fast in righteousness,
You, O prince, we humbly bless.
Fortune may all else destroy;
Truth is still your only joy.”
The Bodhisatta, after hearing the queen sing the praises of the king, set forth her virtues and repeated the fourth verse:
4. “Known to fame as peerless wife,
Sharing weal and woe of life,
Equal she to either fate,
Fit with even kings to mate.”
The Bodhisatta in these words sang the praises of the queen, saying: “This lady, your majesty, in the time of your adversity, lived with you
The Teacher, having ended his lesson, revealed the Truths and identified the Jātaka. At the conclusion of the Truths, the husband and wife attained to fruition of the First Path. “At that time this landowner was the king of Benares, this lay sister was the queen, and I myself was the wise councillor.”
last updated: November 2021