Ja 433 Lomasakassapajātaka
The Story about (the Ascetic) Lomasakassapa (9s)

In the present one monk longs to return to the lay life. The Buddha tells a story of an ascetic of old who was tempted to perform a sacrifice through desire for a princess, but realised his projected deed was wrong, and repented of it.

The Bodhisatta = (the ascetic) Lomasakassapa (Lomasakassapa),
Sāriputta = the great minister (mahā-amacca).

Keywords: Sacrifice, Desire, Devas, Women.

“A king like Sakka.” This story the Teacher dwelling at Jetavana told concerning a worldly-minded monk. The Teacher asked him if he were longing for the world, and when he admitted that it was so, the Teacher said: “Monk, even men of the highest fame sometimes incur infamy. Defilements like these defile even pure beings; much more one like you.” And then he told a story of the past.

In the past prince Brahmadatta, son of Brahmadatta king of Benares, and the son of his family priest named Kassapa, {3.515} were schoolmates and learned all the sciences in the house of the same teacher. By and by the young prince on his father’s death was established in the kingdom. Kassapa thought: “My friend has become king, he will bestow great power on me, what have I to do with power? I will take leave of the king and my parents, and become an ascetic.” So he went into the Himālayas and adopted the ascetic life, and on the seventh day he entered on the Super Knowledges and Attainments, and gained his living by what he gleaned in the fields. And men nicknamed the ascetic Lomasakassapa (Hairy Kassapa).

With his senses mortified he became an ascetic of [3.307] grim austerity. And by virtue of his austerity the abode of Sakka was shaken. Sakka, reflecting on the cause, observed him and thought: “This ascetic, by the exceedingly fierce fire of his virtue, would make me fall even from the abode of Sakka. After a secret interview with the king of Benares, I will break down his austerity.” By the power of a Sakka he entered the royal closet of the king of Benares at midnight and illuminated all the chamber with the radiance of his form, and standing in the air before the king he woke him up and said: “Sire, arise,” and when the king asked, “Who are you?” he answered, “I am Sakka.” “Wherefore are you come?” “Sire, do you desire sole rule in all Jambudīpa or not?” “Of course I do.” So Sakka said: “Then bring Lomasakassapa here and bid him offer a sacrifice of slain beasts, and you shall become, like Sakka, exempt from old age and death, and exercise rule throughout all Jambudīpa,” and he repeated the first verse:

1. “A king like Sakka you shall be,
Ne’er doomed old age or death to see,
Should Kassapa by your advice
Offer a living sacrifice.”

On hearing his words the king readily assented. Sakka said: “Then make no delay,” and so departed. {3.516} Next day the king summoned a councillor named Sayha and said: “Good sir, go to my dear friend Lomasakassapa and in my name speak thus to him, “The king by persuading you to offer a sacrifice will become sole ruler in all Jambudīpa, and he will grant you as much land as you desire, come with me to offer sacrifice.” He answered, “Very well, sire,” and made proclamation by beat of drum to learn the place where the ascetic dwelt, and when a certain forester said: “I know,” Sayha went there under his guidance with a large following, and saluting the sage sat respectfully on one side and delivered his message. Then he said to him, “Sayha, what is this you say?” and refusing him he spoke these four verses: These verses occur in No. 310 supra, in a different context.

2. “No island realm, safe-guarded in the sea,
Shall tempt me, Sayha, to this cruelty.

3. A curse upon the lust of fame and gain,
Whence spring the defilements that lead to pain.

4. Better, as homeless waif, to beg one’s bread
Than by a crime bring shame upon my head.

5. Yea better, bowl in hand, to flee from wrong
Than by such cruelty a kingdom win.”

The councillor, after hearing what he said, went and told the king. Thought the king, “Should he refuse to come, what can I do?” and kept silent. {3.517} But Sakka at midnight came and stood in the air and said, [3.308] “Why, sire, do you not send for Lomasakassapa and bid him offer sacrifice?” “When he is sent for, he refuses to come.” “Sire, adorn your daughter, princess Candavatī, and send her by the hand of Sayha and bid him say, ‘If you will come and offer sacrifice, the king will give you this maiden to wife.’ Clearly he will be struck with love of the maiden and will come.” The king readily agreed, and next day sent his daughter by the hand of Sayha.

Sayha took the king’s daughter and went there, and after the usual salutation and compliments to the sage, he presented to him the princess, as lovely as a Devaccharā, and stood at a respectful distance. The ascetic losing his moral sense looked at her, and with the mere look he fell away from meditation. The councillor seeing that he was smitten with love said: “Your reverence, if you will offer sacrifice, the king will give you this maiden to wife.” He trembled with the power of passion and said: “Will he surely give her to me?” “Yes, if you offer sacrifice, he will.” “Very well,” he said: “If I get her, I will sacrifice,” and taking her with him, just as he was, ascetic locks and all, he mounted a splendid chariot and went to Benares.

But the king, as soon as he heard he was certainly coming, prepared for the ceremony in the sacrificial pit. So when he saw that he was come, he said: “If you offer sacrifice, I shall become equal to Sakka, and when the sacrifice is completed, I will give you my daughter.” Kassapa readily assented. So the king next day went with Candavatī to the sacrificial pit. There all four-footed beasts, elephants, horses, bulls and the rest were placed in a line. Kassapa attempted to offer sacrifice by killing and slaying them all. Then the people that were gathered together there said, {3.518} “This is not proper or befitting you, Lomasakassapa, why do you act thus?” And lamenting they uttered two verses:

6. “Both sun and moon bear potent sway,
And tides no power on earth can stay,
Brahmins and priests almighty are,
But womankind is mightier far.

7. E’en so Candavatī did win
Grim Kassapa to deadly wrong,
And urged him by her sire’s device
To offer living sacrifice.” See Weber, Ind. Stud. x. 348.

At this moment Kassapa, to offer sacrifice, lifted up his precious sword to strike the royal elephant on the neck. The elephant at the sight of the sword, terrified with the fear of death, uttered a loud cry. On hearing his cry the other beasts too, elephants, horses, and bulls through fear of death uttered loud cries, and the people also cried aloud. Kassapa, on hearing these loud cries, grew excited and reflected on his matted hair. Then he became conscious of matted locks and beard, and the hair upon his body [3.309] and breast. Full of remorse he cried, “Alas, I have done a sinful deed, unbecoming my character,” and showing his emotion he spoke the eighth verse: {3.519}

8. “This cruel act is of desire the fruit;
The growth of lust I’ll cut down to the root.”

Then the king said: “Friend, fear not, offer the sacrifice, and I will now give you the princess Candavatī, and my kingdom and a pile of the seven treasures.” On hearing this Kassapa said: “Sire, I do not want this defilement,” and spoke the concluding verse:

9. “Curse on the sensual desires upon this earth so rife,
Better by far than these the ascetic life;
I will forsaking wrong an ascetic be:
Keep you your realm and fair Candavatī.”

With these words he focused on the Meditation Object, and recovering discrimination sat cross-legged in the air, teaching the Dhamma to the king, and, admonishing him to be zealous in good works, he bade him destroy the sacrificial pit and grant an amnesty to the people. And at the king’s request, flying up into the air he returned to his own abode. And as long as he lived, he cultivated the Brahmā perfections and became destined to birth in the Brahmā Realm.

The Teacher having ended his lesson revealed the Truths and identified the Jātaka. At the conclusion of the Truths the worldly-minded monk became an Arahat, “In those days the great councillor Sayha was Sāriputta, Lomasakassapa was myself.”