Ja 405 Bakabrahmajātaka
The Story about (Brahmā) Baka (7s)

Alternative Title: Bakajātaka (Cst)

In the present Baka Brahmā holds that his present existence is permanent. The Buddha tells how this view arose in the Brahmā, and then tells a story of how he attained his present glory by good deeds in the past.

The Bodhisatta = the young brahmin Kappa (Kappamāṇava),
Bakabrahmā = the ascetic Kesava (Kesavatāpasa).

Past Compare: MN 49 Brahmanimantanikasutta (1.328) & SN 6.8 Bakabrahmasutta (1.142).

Keywords: Impermanence, Virtue, Devas.

“Seventy and two.” The Teacher told this tale while dwelling in Jetavana, concerning the Brahmā A Brahmā means a being in one of the Brahma-loka heavens, three of which are mentioned below. Baka. In him a false Dhamma arose, namely, “This present existence is perpetual, permanent, eternal, unchanging; apart from it there is no escape or release at all.”

In a former birth this Brahmā had once [3.220] practised meditation, so he was born in the Vehapphala heaven. Having spent there an existence of five hundred kalpas, he was born in the Subhakiṇṇa heaven; after sixty-four kalpas there he passed and was born in the Ābhassara heaven, where existence is for eight kalpas. It was there that this false Dhamma arose in him. He forgot that he had passed from higher Brahmaloka heavens and had been born in that heaven, and perceiving neither of these things had taken up the false Dhamma.

The Lord, understanding his reflections, {3.359} as easily as a strong man can extend his bent arm or bend his extended arm, disappearing from Jetavana, appeared in that Brahmaloka. The Brahmā, seeing the Lord, said: “Come here, my lord; welcome, my lord; it is a long time, my lord, since you have taken this opportunity, even for coming here; this world, my lord, is perpetual, it is permanent, it is eternal, it is absolute, it is unchanging; this world is not born, it decays not, it dies not, it passes not away, it is not born again; apart from this world there is no other escape beyond.”

When this was said, the Lord said to Baka the Brahmā, “Baka the Brahmā has come to ignorance, he has come to ignorance, when he will say that a thing which is not permanent is permanent, and so on, and that there is no other escape apart from this when there is another escape.” Hearing this the Brahmā thought: “This one presses me hard, finding out exactly what I say,” and as a timid thief, after receiving a few blows, says, “Am I the only thief? So and so and so and so are thieves too,” showing his associates; so he, in fear of the Lord’s questioning, showing that others were his associates, spoke the first verse:

1. “Seventy and two, O Gotama, are we
Righteous and great, from birth and age we’re free;
Our heaven is wisdom’s home, there’s nought above;
And many others will this view approve.”

Hearing his words, the Teacher spoke the second verse: {3.360}

2. “Short your existence in this world; ’tis wrong,
Baka, to think existence here is long;
A hundred thousand aeons past and gone
All your existence well to me is known.”

Hearing this, Baka spoke the third verse:

3. “Of wisdom infinite, O Lord, am I;
Birth, age, and sorrow, all beneath me lie;
What should I do with good works, long ago?
Yet tell me something, Lord, that I should know.”

Then the Lord, relating and showing him things of past time, spoke four verses;

4. “To many a man of old you gave a drink
For thirst and parching drought ready to sink;
That virtuous deed of thine so long ago
Remembering, as if waked from sleep, I know. {3.361}

5. By Eṇi’s bank you set the people free
When chained and held in close captivity;
That virtuous deed of thine so long ago
Remembering, as if waked from sleep, I know.

6. By Ganges’ stream the man you did set free,
Whose boat was seized by Nāga, cruelly
Lusting for flesh, and save him mightily;
That virtuous deed of thine, so long ago
Remembering, as if waked from sleep, I know. [3.221]

7. And I was Kappa, your disciple true,
Your wisdom and your virtues all I knew;
And now those deeds of thine so long ago
Remembering, as if waked from sleep, I know.” {3.363}

Hearing his own deeds from the Teacher’s discourse, Baka gave thanks and spoke this last verse:

8. “You know every life that has been mine;
Buddha you are, all wisdom sure is thine;
And sure your glorious majesty and state
Even this Brahmā Realm illuminate.”

So the Teacher, making known his quality as Buddha and expounding the Dhamma, showed forth the Truths. At the end the thoughts of ten thousand Brahmās were freed from attachments and defilements. So the Lord became the refuge of many Brahmās, and going back from Brahmaloka to Jetavana preached the Dhamma in the way described and identified the Jātaka, “At that time Baka the Brahmā was the ascetic Kesava, Kappa the disciple was myself.”