Ja 424 Ādittajātaka
The Story about Burning (8s)

Alternative Title: Sucirajātaka, Sovīrajātaka (Comm)

In the present the king of Kosala gives an incomparable gift to the Buddha and the Saṅgha. The Buddha tells a story of a king and queen of old, how they invited some Paccekabuddhas, the gifts they gave them, and the teaching they received in return.

The Bodhisatta = the great king (Bhārata) of Roruva (Roruvamahārājā),
Rāhulamātā = (queen) Samuddavijayā.

Present Source: DN-a 19 Mahāgovindasutta,
Quoted at: Ja 424 Āditta, Ja 495 Dasabrāhmaṇa, Ja 499 Sivi.

Keywords: Giving, Wisdom.

“Whate’er a man can save.” [3.280] The Teacher told this tale while dwelling in Jetavana, concerning an incomparable gift. The incomparable gift must be described in full from the commentary on the Mahāgovindasutta [DN 19]. [I have translated and included the relevant passage here.]

It seems at one time almsfood arose in due order for the Fortunate One in Rājagaha, Sāvatthi, Sāketa, Kosambī, Bārāṇasī, and therein, some said: “Having spent a hundred pieces, I will give a gift,” and having written it on a leaf, it was pinned to the door of the monastery. Others said: “I will give two hundred.” Others said: “I will give five hundred.” Others said: “I will give a thousand.” Others said: “I will give two thousand.” Others said: “I will give five, ten, twenty, fifty.” Others said: “I will give a hundred thousand.” Others said: “I will give two hundred thousand,” and having written it on a leaf, it was pinned to the door of the monastery. Receiving the opportunity while the Buddha was walking on a walk through the countryside, they said: “I will give a gift,” and after filling their carts, the countryfolk followed along.

They spoke like this, “At that time the people of the country after filling the carts with salt, oil, rice and sweetmeats, followed along close behind the Fortunate One, saying, ‘In due order wherever we can get an opportunity, there we will give them food,’ and everything is to be understood as in the story in the Khandhakas of the Vinaya. Just so was the unmatched gift achieved.

Having walked on a walk through the countryside, at that time it seems the Fortunate One arrived at Jetavana, and the king invited him and gave a gift. On the second day the city folk gave a gift. But their gift was greater than the king’s, and then next day his was greater than the city folks,’ thus after a number of days had passed the king thought: “These city folk day by day give exceedingly, if the lord of the earth, the king, is defeated by the gifts of the city folk, he will be blamed.” Then queen Mallikā told a skilful means to him.

Having made a pavilion with beautiful boards in the royal courtyard, and covered it with blue lotuses, having arranged five hundred seats, and placed five hundred elephants in front of the seats, each elephant held a white parasol over each of the monks. And two by two on the side of the seats, adorned with all decorations, young noblewomen ground up the four kinds of incense. At the conclusion she placed a measure of incense in the middle, while the other noblewoman rolled it with the hand holding the blue lotuses. Thus each monk was surrounded by noblewomen, and other women, adorned with all decorations, who, having taken a fan, were fanning them, and others, who having taken a water strainer, strained the water, and others who took away the fallen water.

For the Fortunate One there were four invaluable things, a foot stand, a stool, a bolster, and a jewelled parasol, these were the four invaluable things.

The gifts for the last to come in the Saṅgha were valued at a hundred thousand. The elder Aṅgulimāla was last to come in that ceremony. No one was able to lead an elephant close to his seat, therefore they informed the king. The king said: “Isn’t there another elephant?” “There is a rogue elephant, but no one is able to lead him.” The Perfect Sambuddha said: “Who is the last to come, great king?” “The elder Aṅgulimāla, Fortunate One.” “Having led the rogue elephant, place him next to him, great king.” After decorating him, they led him to the elder Aṅgulimāla. Through the power of that elder the elephant was unable to move even the air in his trunk.

Thus the king gave gifts for seven days. On the seventh day, after worshipping the One of Ten Powers, the king said: “Please teach Dhamma to me, Fortunate One.” Among that assembly were two ministers, Kāḷa (Dark) and Juṇha (Bright). Kāḷa thought: “The king’s property is diminished, why did these people accept so much, having eaten, and gone to the monastery, they are sleeping! But the king’s men, if they had received something, what would they not do for him? Alas, the king’s property is diminished!” Juṇha thought: “Kingship is known as a great thing, who else will do as he has? Why is the king known as such, he who abides in kingship, such a gift no one else is able to give.”

The Fortunate One inspecting the dispositions of that assembly and knew the dispositions of these two, “If today I teach Dhamma, Juṇha’s disposition will prosper, but Kāḷa’s head will split into seven. But through my compassion for beings the Perfections are already fulfilled. On another day, teaching Dhamma to Juṇha, he will penetrate the path and fruit, but I will consider Kāḷa in this,” and he spoke just one four line verse to the king,

“The miserly go not to the world of the gods,
fools surely do not praise giving,
but the wise one rejoices in giving,
and through that he is happy hereafter.”

The king was disappointed, thinking: “A great gift was given by me, but the teacher only taught a very little Dhamma, I think I was not able to please the One of Ten Powers’ mind.” Having gone to the monastery after the morning meal, and worshipped the Fortunate One, he asked, “A great gift was given by me, Fortunate One, but you did not rejoice greatly with me, are you angry with me, venerable sir?” “There is no anger, great king, but the assembly was not pure, therefore I did not teach much Dhamma.” “But why, Fortunate One, was the assembly not pure?” The Teacher informed him of the thoughts of the two ministers.

The king asked Kāḷa, saying: “Is it so, Kāḷa?” “Yes, great king.” “My property was given by me, what of yours was ruined it is not possible for me to see, get out of my country!”

Then, having called Juṇha, he asked, “Dear, was your thought thus?” “Yes, great king.” “These are suitable thoughts for you! Therefore having established in this pavillion seats for five hundred monks, and having gathered the noblewomen together, and taken the wealth of all Rājagaha, give gifts for seven days similar to my gifts.” He gave gifts in just that way.

Having given for seven days, he said: “Fortunate One, please teach Dhamma.” The Teacher rejoiced over these double gifts, and after collaborating and making these two streams of merit flow like a great river, he taught a great Dhamma teaching. At the end of the teaching Juṇha became a Stream-Enterer.

On the day after that on which it had been given, they were talking of it in the Dhamma Hall, “Sirs, the Kosala king {3.470} after examination found the proper field of merit, and gave the great gift to the assembly with Buddha at its head.” The Teacher came and was told what the subject of their talk was as they sat together, he said: “Monks, it is not strange that the king after examination has undertaken great gifts to the supreme field of merit, wise men of old also after examination gave such gifts,” and so he told a story of the past.

In the past a king named Bharata reigned at Roruva in the kingdom of Sovīra. He practised the ten royal virtues, won the people by the four elements of popularity, stood to the multitude like father and mother and gave great gifts to the poor, the wayfarers, the beggars, the suitors and the like. His chief queen Samuddavijayā was wise and full of knowledge. One day he looked round his alms-hall and thought: “My alms are devoured by worthless greedy people, I don’t like this, I should like to give alms to the virtuous Paccekabuddhas who deserve the best of gifts, they live in the Himālayas region, who will bring them here on my invitation and whom shall I send on this errand?” He spoke to the queen, who said: “O king, be not concerned, sending flowers by the force of our giving suitable things, and of our virtue and truthfulness, we will invite the Paccekabuddhas, and when they come we will give them gifts with all things requisite.”

The king agreed. He made proclamation by drum that all the townspeople should undertake to keep the precepts; he himself with his household undertook all the duties for the fast days and gave great gifts in generosity. He had a gold box brought, full of jasmine flowers, came down from his palace and stood in the royal courtyard. There prostrating himself on the ground with the five contacts, he saluted towards the eastern quarter and threw seven handfuls of flowers, with the words, “I salute the saints in the eastern quarter, if there is any merit in us, show compassion on us and receive our alms.” As there are no Paccekabuddhas in the eastern quarter, they did not come next day. On the second day he paid respects to the south quarter, but none came from thence. On the third day he paid respects to the west quarter, {3.471} but none came. On the fourth day he paid respects to the north quarter, and after paying respects he threw seven handfuls of flowers with the [3.281] words, “May the Paccekabuddhas who live in the north district of the Himālayas receive our alms.” The flowers went and fell on five hundred Paccekabuddhas in the Nandamūla cave.

On reflection they understood that the king had invited them; so they called seven of their number and said: “Sirs, the king invites you; show him favour.” These Paccekabuddhas came through the air and lighted at the king’s gate. Seeing them the king saluted them with delight, made them come up into the palace, showered them great honour and gave them gifts. After the meal he invited them for the next day and so on until the fifth day, feeding them for six days, on the seventh day he made ready a gift with all the requisites, arranged beds and chairs inlaid with gold, and set before the seven Paccekabuddhas sets of three robes and all other things used by holy men. The king and queen formally offered these things to them after their meal, and stood in respectful salutation. To express their thanks the elder of the assembly spoke two verses:

1. “Whate’er a man can save from flames that burn his dwelling down,
Not what is left to be consumed, will still remain his own.

2. The world’s on fire, decay and death are there the flame to feed;
Save what you can by generosity, a gift is saved indeed.” {3.472}

Thus expressing thanks the elder admonished the king to be diligent in virtue, then he flew up in the air, straight through the peaked roof of the palace and lighted in the Nandamūla cave, along with him all the requisites that had been given him flew up and lighted in the cave, and the bodies of the king and queen became full of joy. After his departure, the other six also expressed thanks in a verse each,

3. “He who gives to righteous men,
Strong in holy energy,
Crosses Yama’s flood, and then
Gains a dwelling in the sky.”

4. “Like to war is generosity,
Hosts may flee before a few,
Give a little piously,
Bliss hereafter is your due.”

5. “Prudent givers please the lord,
Worthily they spend their toil.
Rich the fruit their gifts afford,
Like a seed in fertile soil.”

6. “They who never rudely speak,
Wrong to living things abjure,
Men may call them timid, weak,
For ’tis fear that keeps them pure.”

7. “Lower duties win for man, reborn on earth, a princely fate,
Middle duties win them heaven, highest win the Purest State.” The higher heavens in the Buddhist Cosmogony. [3.282]

8. “Generosity is blessed indeed, {3.473}
Yet Dhamma gains higher meed,
Ages old and late attest,
Thus the wise have reached their rest.”

So they also went with the requisites given them. {3.474}

The seventh Paccekabuddha in his thanks praised the deathless and great Nibbāna to the king, and admonishing him carefully went to his abode as has been said. The king and queen gave gifts all their lives and passed fully through the path to heaven.

After the lesson, the Teacher said: “So wise men of old gave gifts with discrimination,” and identified the Jātaka, “At that time the Paccekabuddha reached Nibbāna, Samuddavijayā was the mother of Rāhula, and the king Bharata was myself.”