Ja 355 Ghatajātaka
The Story about (King) Ghata (5s)

Alternative Title: Ghaṭajātaka (Cst)

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 version his lack of grief is explained.

The Bodhisatta = king Ghata (Ghatarājā),
Ānanda = king Dhaṅka (Dhaṅkarājā).

Present Compare: Ja 282 Seyya, Ja 303 Ekarāja, Ja 351 Maṇikuṇḍala, Ja 355 Ghata.

Keywords: Patience, Righteousness.

“While others weep.” This story the Teacher, dwelling at Jetavana, told concerning a minister of the king of Kosala. The introductory story is identical with one already given.

But in this case the king after bestowing great honour on a minister who served him well, gave ear to certain mischief-makers and had him seized and thrown into prison. While he was lying there, he entered upon the First Path. The king, becoming aware of his great merit, released him. He took a scented garland and coming into the presence of the Teacher, saluted him and sat down. Then the Teacher asked if some evil had not befallen him. “Yes, venerable sir,” he answered, “but through evil good has come to me. I have entered on the First Path.” “Verily,” said the Teacher, “not you only, but sages of old got good out of evil.” And herewith at his request he told a story of the past.

In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born to him as the son of his queen-consort. And they called him prince Ghata. He afterwards acquired a knowledge of the arts at Taxila and ruled his kingdom righteously.

Now a certain minister misconducted himself in the royal harem. The king, after witnessing the offence with his own eyes, banished him from [3.112] his kingdom. At that time a king named Vaṅka ruled in Sāvatthi. The minister went to him and entering his service, just as in the former story, gained the king’s ear and got him to seize on the kingdom of Benares. After gaining possession of the kingdom, he had the Bodhisatta bound in chains and threw him into prison. The Bodhisatta entered on an Absorption {3.169} and sat cross-legged in the air. A burning heat sprang up in the body of Vaṅka. He came and beheld the countenance of the Bodhisatta radiant with the beauty of a full-blown lotus, like to a golden mirror, and in the form of a question repeated the first verse:

1. “While others weep and wail, their cheeks with tears bestained,
Why still with smiling face, has Ghata ne’er complained?”

Then the Bodhisatta, to explain why he did not grieve, recited the remaining verses:

2. “To change the past all sorrow is but vain,
It has no blessing for a future state:
Why should I, Vaṅka, of my woes complain?
Grief is no helpmate fit with us to mate.

3. One that is sick with sorrow pines away,
His food insipid and distasteful grows,
Pierced as with arrows, to his grief a prey,
He sinks a laughing-stock to all his foes.

4. Whether my home be on dry land or sea,
Be it in village, or some forest drear,
No sorrow ever shall come nigh to me,
A soul converted can have nought to fear.

5. But he that lacks completion in himself
And is with lust of things of sense fire,
Not the whole world, with all its sordid pelf,
Can e’er suffice for such a man’s desire.” {3.170}

Vaṅka therefore, after hearing these four verses, asked forgiveness of the Bodhisatta, and restored him to his kingdom and went his way. But the Bodhisatta handed over the kingdom to his ministers, and retreating to the Himālayas became an ascetic, and without any break in his Absorption he became destined to birth in the Brahmā Realm.

The Teacher, having ended his lesson, identified the Jātaka, “At that time Ānanda was king Vaṅka, and I myself was king Ghata.”