Ja 420 Sumaṅgalajātaka
The Story about (the Park Keeper) Sumaṅgala (8s)

In the present at the king of Kosala’s request the Buddha told this story about how an attendant accidentally shot a Paccekabuddha, thinking he was a deer. And how the king refrained from passing judgement on him till his anger had passed.

The Bodhisatta = the king (of Benares) (rājā),
Ānanda = (the park keeper) Sumaṅgala.

Keywords: Anger, Murder, Restraint.

“Conscious of an angry frown.” The Teacher told this tale while dwelling at Jetavana, concerning the admonition of a king. On this occasion the Teacher, at the king’s request, told a story of the past.

In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as the son of his chief queen. When he grew up, he became king on his father’s death and gave abundant alms. He had a park-keeper named Sumaṅgala. A certain Paccekabuddha left the Nandamūla cave on a pilgrimage for alms, and coming to Benares stayed in the park. Next day he went into the town to beg. The king saw him with favour, made him come up into the palace and sit on the throne, waited on him with various delicate kinds of food, both hard and soft, and received his thanks, being pleased that the Paccekabuddha should stay in his park, he exacted a promise and sent him back there, after his morning meal he went there in person, arranged the places for his habitation by night [3.264] and day, gave him the park-keeper Sumaṅgala as attendant, and went back to the town. After that the Paccekabuddha had meals constantly in the palace and lived there a long time, Sumaṅgala respectfully attended on him.

One day he went away, saying to Sumaṅgala, “I am going to such and such a village for a few days, but will come back, inform the king.” Sumaṅgala informed the king. After a few days stay in that village the Paccekabuddha came back to the park in the evening after sunset. {3.440} Sumaṅgala, not knowing of his arrival, had gone to his own house. The Paccekabuddha put away his bowl and robe, and after a little walk sat down on a stone-slab. That day some strange guests had come to the park-keeper’s house. To get them soup and curry he had gone with a bow to kill a tame deer in the park, he was there looking for a deer when he saw the Paccekabuddha and thinking he was a great deer, he aimed an arrow and shot him. The Paccekabuddha uncovered his head and said: “Sumaṅgala.” Greatly moved Sumaṅgala said: “Sir, I knew not of your coming and shot you, thinking you were a deer, forgive me.” “Very well, but what will you do now? Come, pull out the arrow.” He made obeisance and pulled it out. The Paccekabuddha felt great pain and passed into Nibbāna then and there.

The park-keeper thought the king would not pardon him if he knew, he took his wife and children and fled. By supernatural power the whole city heard that the Paccekabuddha had entered Nibbāna, and all were greatly excited. Next day some men entered the park, saw the body and told the king that the park-keeper had fled after killing the Paccekabuddha. The king went with a great retinue and for seven days paid honour to the body, then with all ceremony he took the relics, built a shrine, and doing honour to it went on ruling his kingdom righteously.

After a year, Sumaṅgala determined to find out what the king thought, he came and asked a minister whom he saw to find out what the king thought of him. The minister praised Sumaṅgala before the king, but he was as if he had not heard it. The minister said no more, but told Sumaṅgala that the king was not pleased with him. After another year he came, and again in the third year he brought his wife and children. The minister knew the king was appeased, {3.441} and setting Sumaṅgala at the palace-door told the king of his coming. The king sent for him, and after greeting said: “Sumaṅgala, why did you kill that Paccekabuddha, through whom I was gaining merit?” “O king, I did not mean to kill him, but it was in this way that I did the deed,” and he told the story.

The king bade him have no fear, and reassuring him made him park-keeper again. Then the minister asked, “O king, why did you make no answer when you heard Sumaṅgala’s praises twice, and on the third hearing why did you send for him and forgive him?” The king said: “Dear sir, it is wrong for a king to do anything hastily in his anger, therefore I was silent at first and the third time when I [3.265] knew I was appeased I sent for Sumaṅgala,” and so he spoke these verses to declare the duty of a king,

1. “Conscious of an angry frown,
Ne’er let king stretch out his rod,
Things unworthy of a crown
Then would follow from his nod.

2. Conscious of a milder mood,
Let him judgments harsh decree,
When the case is understood,
Fix the proper penalty,

3. Self nor others will he vex,
Clearly parting right from wrong,
Though his yoke is on men’s necks,
Virtue holds him high and strong.

4. Princes reckless in their deed
Ply the rod remorselessly,
Ill repute is here their meed,
Hell awaits them when they die. {3.442}

5. They who love the saintly law,
Pure in deed and word and thought,
Filled with kindness, calm and awe,
Pass through both worlds as they ought.

6. King am I, my people’s lord;
Anger shall not check my bent,
When to vice I take the sword,
Pity prompts the punishment.” {3.443}

So the king declared his own good qualities in six verses: his whole court were pleased and declared his merits in the words, “Such excellence in moral practices and qualities is worthy of your majesty.” Sumaṅgala, after the court had finished speaking, saluted the king, and after obeisance spoke three verses in the king’s praise,

7. “Such your glory and your power;
Ne’er resign them for an hour,
Free from anger, free from fears,
Reign in joy a hundred years.

8. Prince, whom all those virtues bless,
Mild and bland, but firm in worth,
Rule the world with righteousness,
Pass to heaven when freed from earth.

9. True in word, in action good,
Take the means your end to gain,
Calm the troubled multitude,
As a cloud with genial rain.” {3.444}

After the lesson connected with the admonition of the Kosala king, the Teacher identified the Jātaka, “At that time the Paccekabuddha passed into Nibbāna, Sumaṅgala was Ānanda, the king was myself.”