Ja 328 Ananusociyajātaka
The Story about Not Mourning (4s)
In the present when one layman’s wife dies he is inconsolable. The Buddha tells a story about a young couple who were brought together through a golden image and forced to marry. They lived in celibacy, and when their parents died, took up the ascetic life. When the wife died her former husband grieved not, knowing impermanence is the way of compounded things.
The Bodhisatta = the ascetic (tāpasa),
Rāhulamātā = (his wife) Sammillahāsinī (Speaking with Smiles).
Keywords: Grief, Death, Wisdom, Devas.
“Why should I shed tears.” This story was told by the Teacher while living at Jetavana, of a certain landowner who had lost his wife. On her death, they say, he neither washed himself nor took food, and neglected his farm duties. Overcome with grief he would wander about the cemetery lamenting, while the basis to enter the First Path blazed forth like a halo about his head. The Teacher, early one morning, casting his eye upon the world and beholding him said: “Except for me there is no one that can remove this man’s sorrow and bestow upon him the power of entering the First Path. I will be his refuge.” So when he had returned from his rounds and had eaten his meal, he took an attendant monk and went to the door of the landowner’s house.
The Teacher asked, “Wherefore, lay brother, are you silent?” “Venerable sir,” he replied, “I am grieving for her.”
The Teacher said: “Lay brother, that which is breakable is broken, but when this happens, one ought not to grieve. Sages of old, when they lost a wife, knew this truth, and therefore sorrowed not.” And then at his request the Teacher told a story of the past.
The old legend will be found set forth in the Cullabodhijātaka [Ja 443] in the Tenth Book. Here follows a short summary of it.
In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born into a brahmin family. And when he grew up, he studied all the arts at Taxila and then returned to his parents. In this birth the Great Being became a holy young student.
Then his parents told him they would look out a wife for him. “I have no desire for a married life,” said the Bodhisatta. “When you are dead, I will adopt the ascetic life.”
But being greatly importuned by them, he had a golden image For the incident of the golden image and the story generally compare Tibetan Tales, IX. p. 186. Mahākāśyapa and Bhadrā. made,
So the men took the golden image and wandered about till they reached this village. The inhabitants on seeing the image asked, “Why is Sammillabhāsinī, the daughter of such and such a brahmin, placed there?” The messengers on hearing this found the brahmin family, and chose Sammillabhāsinī for the prince’s bride. She sent a message to her parents, saying: “When you are dead, I shall adopt the ascetic life; I have no desire for the married state.” They said: “What are you thinking of, maiden?” And accepting the golden image they sent off their daughter with a great retinue. The marriage ceremony took place against the wishes of both the Bodhisatta and Sammillabhāsinī. Though sharing the same room and the same bed they did not regard one another with the eye of sinful passion, but dwelt together like two monks or two Brahmās.
By and by the father and mother of the Bodhisatta died. He performed their funeral rites and calling to him Sammillabhāsinī, said to her, “My dear, my family property amounts to eighty crores, and yours too is worth another eighty crores. Take all this and enter upon household life. I shall become an ascetic.”
“Sir,” she answered, “if you become an ascetic, I will become one too. I cannot forsake you.”
“Come then,” he said. So spending all their wealth in generosity and throwing up their worldly fortune as it were a lump of phlegm, they journeyed into the Himālayas and both of them adopted the ascetic life. There after living for a long time on wild fruits and roots, they at length came down from the Himālayas to procure salt and vinegar, and gradually found their way to Benares, and dwelt in the royal grounds. And while they were living there, this young and delicate female ascetic, from eating insipid rice of a mixed quality, was attacked by dysentery and not being able to get any healing remedies, she grew very weak.
The Bodhisatta at the time for going his rounds to beg for alms, took hold of her and carried her to the gate of the city and there laid her on a bench in a certain hall, and himself went into the city for alms. He had scarce
“When I was a layman,” he replied, “she was my wife.”
“Venerable sir,” they said, “while we weep and lament and cannot control our feelings, why do you not weep?”
The Bodhisatta said: “While she was alive, she belonged to me in some sort. Nothing belongs to her that is gone to another world: she has passed into the power of others. Wherefore should I weep?” And teaching the people the Dhamma, he recited these verses:
1. “Why should I shed tears for you,
Passed to death’s majority Compare the classical usage of οἰ πλείους, plures, for the dead.
You are henceforth lost to me.
2. Wherefore should frail man lament
What to him is only lent?
He too draws his mortal breath
Forfeit every hour to death.
3. Be he standing, sitting still,
Moving, resting, what he will,
In the twinkling of an eye,
In a moment death is nigh.
4. Life I count a thing unstable,
Loss of friends inevitable.
Cherish all that are alive,
Sorrow not should you survive.”
Thus did the Great Being teach the Dhamma, illustrating by these four verses the impermanence of things. The people performed funeral rites over the female ascetic. And the Bodhisatta returned to the Himālayas, and entering upon Absorption and the Super Knowledges he was destined to birth in the Brahmā Realm.
The Teacher, having ended his lesson, revealed the Truths and identified the Jātaka. At the conclusion of the Truths, the landowner attained to fruition of the First Path. “At that time the mother of Rāhula was Sammillabhāsinī, and I myself was the ascetic.”
last updated: November 2021