Ja 406 Gandhārajātaka
The Story about (the King of) Gandhāra (7s)

In the present the monks store up medicines and are reproved for it by the lay folk. The Buddha tells a story of two kings who gave up their kingdoms to become ascetics, and how, when one had a slight fault, and the other reproved him for it, he took him for teacher.

The Bodhisatta = the king of Gandhāra (Gandhārarājā),
Ānanda = (the king of) Vedeha.

Keywords: Renunciation, Asceticism.

“Villages full sixteen thousand.” The Teacher told this when dwelling in Jetavana, concerning the precept on the storing up of medicines. Mahāvagga vi. 15. 10. The occasion however arose in Rājagaha. When the venerable Pilindiyavaccha went to the king’s dwelling to set free the park-keeper’s family, Mahāvagga vi. 15. 1. he made the palace all of gold by his Supernormal Powers; and the people in their delight brought to that elder the five kinds of medicine. He gave them away to the Saṅgha. So the Saṅgha abounded in medicines, {3.364} and as they received the medicines, they filled pots and jars and bags in this way and laid them aside. People seeing this murmured, saying: “Those greedy monastics are hoarding in their houses.” The Teacher, hearing this thing, declared the precept, “Whatever medicines for sick monks (are received, must be used within seven days),” and said: “Monks, wise men of old, before the Buddha appeared, ordained in an outside sect and keeping only the five precepts, used to chide those who laid aside even grains of salt for the next day; but you, though ordained in such a dispensation which leads to safety, make a hoard for the second and the third day,” and so he told a story of the past.

In the past the Bodhisatta was the king’s son of the Gandhāra kingdom; at his father’s death he became king and ruled with righteousness. [3.222]

In the Central Region, in the kingdom of Videha a king named Videha was ruling at the time. These two kings had never seen each other, but they were friends and had great trust the one in the other. At that time men were long-lived; their life was for thirty thousand years.

Then once, on the fast day of the full moon, the king of Gandhāra had taken the precepts, [The Uposatha, or eight precepts.] and on the dais in the middle of a royal throne prepared for him, looking through an open window on the eastern quarter, he sat giving to his ministers a discourse on the substance of the Dhamma. At that moment Rāhu was covering the moon’s orb which was full and spreading over the sky. The moon’s light vanished. The ministers, not seeing the moon’s brightness, told the king that the moon was seized by Rāhu. The king, observing the moon, thought: “That moon has lost its light, being marred by some trouble from outside; now my royal retinue is a trouble, and it is not meet that I should lose my light like the moon seized by Rāhu; I will leave my kingdom like the moon’s orb shining in a clear sky and become an ascetic; why should I admonish another? I will go about, detached from kin and people, admonishing myself alone; that is meet for me.” So he said: “As you please {3.365} so do,” and gave over the kingdom to his ministers. When he gave up his kingdom in the two kingdoms of Kashmir and Gandhāra, he took the ascetic life, and attaining the Absorptions and Super Knowledges he passed the rains in the Himālayas region devoted to the delight of Absorption.

The king of Videha, having asked of merchants, “Is it well with my friend?” heard that he had taken the ascetic life, and thought: “When my friend has taken the ascetic life, what should I do with a kingdom?” So he gave up the rule in his city of Mithila, seven leagues in extent, and his kingdom of Videha, three hundred leagues in extent, with sixteen thousand villages, storehouses filled, and sixteen thousand dancing girls, and without thinking of his sons and daughters he went to the Himālayas region and took the ascetic life. There he lived on fruits only, dwelling in a state of quietude.

Both of them following this quiet life afterwards met, but did not recognise each other; yet they lived together in this quiet life in friendliness. The ascetic of Videha waited upon the ascetic of Gandhāra. On a day of full moon as they were sitting at the root of a tree and talking on things relating to the Dhamma, Rāhu covered the moon’s orb as it was shining in the sky. The ascetic of Videha looked up, saying: “Why is the moon’s light destroyed?” And seeing that it was seized by Rāhu, he asked, “Teacher, why has he covered the moon and made it dark?” “Scholar, that is the moon’s one trouble, Rāhu by name; he hinders it from shining; I, seeing the moon’s orb struck by Rāhu, thought, ‘There is the moon’s pure orb become dark by trouble from outside; now this kingdom is a trouble to [3.223] me; I will take the ascetic life so that the kingdom does not make me dark as Rāhu does the moon’s orb;’ and so taking the moon’s orb seized by Rāhu as my theme, I forsook my great kingdom and took the ascetic life.” “Teacher, were you king of Gandhāra?” {3.366} “Yes, I was.” “Teacher, I was the king Videha in the kingdom of Videha and city of Mithila; were we not friends though we never saw each other?” “What was your theme?” “I heard that you had taken the ascetic life and thinking, ‘Surely he has seen the good of that life,’ I took you as my theme, and leaving my kingdom took the ascetic life.” From that time they were exceedingly intimate and friendly, and lived on fruits only.

After a long time’s dwelling there they came down from the Himālayas for salt and vinegar, and came to a frontier village. The people, being pleased with their behaviour, gave them alms and taking a promise made for them houses for the night and the like in the forest, and made them dwell there, and built by the road a room for taking their meals in a pleasant watered spot. They, after going their rounds for alms in the frontier village, sat and ate the alms in that hut of leaves and then went to their dwelling-house.

The people who gave them food one day put salt on a leaf and gave it them, another day gave them saltless food. One day they gave them a great deal of salt in a leaf basket. The ascetic of Videha took the salt, and coming gave enough to the Bodhisatta at the meal time and took to himself the proper measure; then putting up the rest in a leaf basket he put it in a roll of grass, saying: “This will do for a saltless day.” Then one day when saltless food was received, the man of Videha, giving the alms-food to the man of Gandhāra, took the salt from the roll of grass and said: “Teacher, take salt.” “The people gave no salt today, where have you got it?” “Teacher, the people gave much salt one day before; then I kept what was over, saying, ‘This will do for a saltless day.’ ” Then the Bodhisatta chided him, saying: “O foolish man, you forsook the kingdom of Videha, three hundred leagues in extent, took the ascetic life and attained freedom from attachments, and now you get a desire for grains of salt.” And so admonishing him he spoke the first verse: {3.367}

1. “Villages full sixteen thousand with their wealth you threw away,
Treasuries with wealth in plenty; and you’re hoarding here today!”

Videha, being thus chidden, did not endure the chiding but became estranged, saying: “Teacher, you see not your own fault, though you see mine; did you not leave your kingdom and become an ascetic, saying, ‘Why should I admonish another? I will admonish myself alone;’ why then are you now admonishing me?” So he spoke the second verse:

2. “Kandahar and all its province, all its wealth, you threw away,
Giving no more royal orders; and you’re ordering me today!” [3.224]

Hearing him the Bodhisatta spoke the third verse:

3. “It is righteousness I’m speaking, for I hate unrighteousness;
Righteousness when I am speaking, wrong on me leaves no impress.”

The ascetic of Videha, hearing the Bodhisatta’s words, said: “Teacher, it is not proper for one to speak after annoying and angering another, even though he speaks to the point; {3.368} you are speaking very harshly to me, as if shaving me with blunt steel,” and so he spoke the fourth verse:

4. “Whatsoever words, if spoken, would to others cause offence,
Wise men leave those words unspoken, though of mighty consequence.”

Then the Bodhisatta spoke the fifth verse:

5. “Let my hearer scatter chaff, or let him take offence or not,
Righteousness when I am speaking, wrong on me can leave no spot.”

Having so said, he went on, “I will not work with you, O Ānanda, The ascetic is addressed by this name, as if his future rebirth as Ānanda was foreseen. as a potter with raw clay only; I will speak chiding again and again; what is truth, that will abide.” And so being steadfast in conduct suitable to that Sugata’s discourse, as a potter among his vessels, after beating them often, takes not the raw clay, but takes the baked vessel only, so preaching and chiding again and again he takes a man like a good vessel, and preaching to show him this, he spoke this pair of verses:

6. “Were not wisdom and good conduct trained in some men’s lives to grow,
Many would go wandering idly like the blinded buffalo.

7. But since some are wisely trained in moral conduct fair to grow,
Thus it is that disciplined in paths of virtue others go.” {3.369}

Hearing this, the Videhan ascetic said: “Teacher, from this time admonish me; I spoke to you with peevish temper, pardon me,” and so paying respect he gained the Great Being’s pardon. So they dwelt together in peace and went again to the Himālayas. Then the Bodhisatta told the Videhan ascetic how to focus on the Meditation Object. He did so and reached the Absorptions and Super Knowledges. So both, never leaving off meditation, became destined for the Brahmā Realm.

After the lesson, the Teacher identified the Jātaka, “At that time the Videhan ascetic was Ānanda, the Gandhāra king was myself.”