Ja 347 Ayakūṭajātaka
The Story about the Iron Bolt (4s)

In the present the monks talk about the effort the Buddha makes to help and save others. The Buddha tells a story of how he once forbade animal sacrifices, and when the Yakkhas became angered at being deprived, was saved by Sakka himself.

The Bodhisatta = the king of Benares (Bārāṇasirājā),
Anuruddha = (the King of the Devas) Sakka.

Present Source: Ja 469 Mahākaṇha,
Quoted at: Ja 50 Dummedha, Ja 347 Ayakūṭa, Ja 391 Dhajaviheṭha.

Keywords: Justice, Mercy, Animals, Devas.

“Why in mid air.” This story the Teacher, while dwelling at Jetavana, told concerning the duty of doing good to men. The incident that led to the story will be set forth in the Mahākaṇhajātaka [Ja 469].

One day, they say, the monks as they sat in the Dhamma Hall, were talking together. “Sirs,” one would say, “the Teacher, ever practising friendship towards the multitudes of the people, has forsaken an agreeable abode, and lives just for the good of the world. He has attained supreme wisdom, yet of his own accord takes bowl and robe, and goes on a journey of eighteen leagues or more. For the five elders he set rolling the Wheel of the Dhamma; on the fifth day of the half-month he recited the Anattalakkhaṇa discourse, and made them Arahats; he went to Uruveḷa, and to the ascetics with matted hair he showed three and a half thousand miracles, and persuaded them to join the Saṅgha; at Gayāsīsa he taught the Discourse upon Fire, and made a thousand of these ascetics Arahats; to Mahākassapa, when he had gone forward three miles to meet him, after three discourses he gave the higher ordination; all alone, after the noon-day meal, he went a journey of forty-five leagues, and then established in the Fruit of the Third Path Pukkusa (a youth of very good birth); to meet Mahākappina he went forward a space of two thousand leagues, and made him an Arahat; alone, in the afternoon he went a journey of thirty leagues, and made that cruel and harsh man Aṅgulimāla an Arahat; thirty leagues also he traversed, and established Āḷavaka in the Fruit of the First Path, and saved the prince; in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three he dwelt three months, and taught Abhidhamma to eight hundred millions of deities; to the Brahmā Realm he went, and destroyed the false Dhamma of Baka Brahmā, and made ten thousand Brahmās Arahats; every year he goes on pilgrimage in three districts, and to such men as are capable of receiving, he gives the refuges, the precepts, and the Fruits of the different stages; he even acts for the good of Nāgas and Garuḷas and the like, in many ways.”

In such words they praised the goodness and worth of the One with Ten Powers’ life for the good of the world. The Teacher came in, and asked what they talked about as they sat there? They told him. “And no wonder, monks,” said he. “I who now in my perfect wisdom would live for the world’s good, even I in the past, in the days of passion, lived for the good of the world.” So saying, he told a story of the past.

In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta came to life as the son of his chief queen. And when he was of age, he was instructed in all the arts and on the death of his father was established in his kingdom and governed it righteously.

At that time men were devoted to the worship of the gods {3.146} and made offerings to them by the slaughter of many goats, rams and the like. The Bodhisatta proclaimed by beat of drum, “No living creature is to be put to death.” The Yakkhas were enraged against the Bodhisatta at losing their offerings, and calling together an assembly of their kind in the Himalāyas, they sent forth a certain savage Yakkha to slay the Bodhisatta. He took a huge blazing mass of iron as big as the dome of a [3.97] house, and thinking to strike a deadly blow, immediately after the mid watch, came and stood at the bed’s head of the Bodhisatta. At that instant the throne of Sakka manifested signs of heat. After considering the matter the god discovered the cause, and grasping his thunderbolt in his hand he came and stood over the Yakkha. The Bodhisatta on seeing the Yakkha thought: “Why in the world is he standing here? Is it to protect me, or from a desire to slay me?” And as he talked with him he repeated the first verse:

1. “Why in mid air, O Yakkha, do you stand
With that huge bolt of iron in your hand?
Are you to guard me from all harm intent,
Or here today for my destruction sent?”

Now the Bodhisatta saw only the Yakkha. He did not see Sakka. The Yakkha through fear of Sakka did not strike the Bodhisatta. On hearing the words of the Bodhisatta the Yakkha said: “Great king, I am not stationed here to guard you; I came minded to smite you with this blazing mass of iron, but through fear of Sakka I dare not strike you.” And to explain his meaning he uttered the second verse:

2. “As messenger of Rakkhasas, lo! here
To compass your destruction I appear,
But all in vain the fiery bolt I wield
Against the head that Sakka’s self would shield.”

On hearing this the Bodhisatta repeated two more verses:

3. “If Sakka, Sujā’s lord, in heaven that reigns,
Great king of gods, my cause to champion deigns, {3.147}
With hideous howl Pisācas rend the sky,
No Rakkhasas have power to terrify.

4. Let mud Pisācas gibber as they may,
They are not equal to so stern a fray.”

Thus did Sakka put the Yakkha to flight. And exhorting the Great Being, he said: “Great king, fear not. Henceforth we will protect you. Be not afraid.” And so saying he returned straight to his own place of abode.

The Teacher here ended his lesson and identified the Jātaka, “At that time Anuruddha was Sakka, and I myself was the king of Benares.”