Book V. Pañcanipāta
The Section with Five Verses
Ja 351 Maṇikuṇḍalajātaka
The Story about Jewelled Earrings (4s)
In the present an innocent courtier is thrown into prison, but later released and honoured by the king. The Buddha tells a story of how a man intrigued in the palace in Benares, was exiled and enticed a foreign king to attack his former country. The king of Benares, rather than cause the deaths of others, allowed himself to be captured, and the conqueror, seeing his virtue, relented and set him free. In this telling we have additional dialogue they exchanged.
The Bodhisatta = the king of Benares (Bārāṇasirājā),
Ānanda = the king of Kosala (Kosalarājā).
Present Source: Ja 282 Seyya,
Quoted at: Ja 303 Ekarāja, Ja 351 Maṇikuṇḍala,
Present Compare: Ja 355 Ghata.
Keywords: Patience, Righteousness.
“Stripped of all the joys of life.”
This tale the Teacher told at Jetavana, about a courtier of the king of Kosala. This man was very useful to the king, we are told, and did everything that had to be done. Because he was very useful, the king did him great honour. The others were jealous, and concocted a slander, and calumniated him. The king believed their saying, and without enquiring into his guilt, bound him in chains, though virtuous and innocent, and cast him into prison. There he dwelt all alone; but, by reason of his virtue, he had peace of mind, and with mind at peace he understood the conditions of existence, and attained the fruition of the First Path. By and by the king found that he was guiltless, and broke his chains and gave him honour more than before.
The man wished to pay his respects to the Teacher; and taking flowers and perfumes, he went to the monastery, and did reverence to the Tathāgata, and sat respectfully aside. The Teacher talked graciously with him. “We have heard that ill fortune befell you,” said he. “Yes, sir, but I made my ill fortune into good; and as I sat in prison, I produced the fruition of the First Path.”
Here too the Bodhisatta became king in Benares. The wicked councillor called in the king of Kosala and got him to seize upon the kingdom of Kāsi, and to throw the Bodhisatta into prison. [This is a short summary, for the full story see Ja 282.] The king of Benares developed Absorption and sat cross-legged in the air. A fierce heat sprang up in the body of the marauding king, and he drew near to the king of Benares and repeated the first verse:
1. “Stripped of all the joys of life,
Jewelled earrings, horse and car,
Robbed of child and loving wife,
Nought your pleasure seems to mar.”
On hearing him the Bodhisatta recited these verses:
2. “Pleasures soon make haste to leave us,
Pleasures soon must all forego,
Sorrow has no power to grieve us,
Joy itself soon turns to woe.
3. Moons with new-born orb appearing
Wax awhile, to wane and die,
Suns with warmth all nature cheering,
Haste to set in yonder sky.
Change is this world’s law I see,
Sorrow has no pangs for me.”
Thus now did the Great Being expound the Dhamma to the usurper king, and bringing his conduct to the test, repeated these verses:
4. “The idle sensual layman I detest,
The false ascetic is a rogue confessed.
A bad king will a case unheard decide;
Wrath in the sage can ne’er be justified.
5. The warrior prince a well-weighed verdict gives,
Of righteous judge the fame for ever lives.”
The king of Kosala having thus gained the forgiveness of the Bodhisatta and given him back his kingdom, departed to his own country.
The Teacher, having ended his discourse, thus identified the Jātaka, “At that time Ānanda was the king of Kosala, and I myself was the king of Benares.”
last updated: November 2021