Ja 436 Samuggajātaka
The Story about the Casket (9s)

Alternative Title: Karaṇḍakajātaka (Comm)

In the present through desire for a woman a monk thinks to return to the lay life. The Buddha tells a story of a Rakkhasa who fell in love with a beautiful woman, and kept her in a casket in his belly. Still she found a way to cheat on him!

The Bodhisatta = the ascetic with divine sight (dibbacakkhukatāpasa).

Keywords: Lust, Sensuality, Devas, Women.

“Whence come you, friends.” [3.312] {3.527} This story the Teacher, while dwelling at Jetavana, told of a worldly-minded monk. The Teacher, they say, asked him if it were true that he was hankering after the world, and on his confessing that it was so, he said: “Why, monk, do you desire a woman? Verily woman is wicked and ungrateful. Of old Rakkhasas swallowed women, and though they guarded them in their belly, they could not keep them faithful to one man. How then will you be able to do so?” And hereupon he related a story of the past.

In the past when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta foregoing sinful pleasures entered the Himālayas and adopted the ascetic life. And he dwelt there living on wild fruits, and developed the Super Knowledges and Attainments. Not far from his hut of leaves lived a Rakkhasa. From time to time he drew near to the Great Being and [3.314] listened to the Dhamma, but taking his stand in the forest on the high road where men gathered together, he caught and ate them.

At this time a certain noble lady in the kingdom of Kāsi, of exceeding beauty, settled in a frontier village. One day she went to visit her parents, and as she was returning this Rakkhasa caught sight of the men that formed her escort and rushed upon them in a terrible form. The men let fall the weapons in their hands and took to flight. The Rakkhasa on seeing the lovely woman seated in the chariot, fell in love with her, and carrying her off to his cave made her his wife. Thenceforth he brought her ghee, husked rice, fish, flesh, and the like, as well as ripe fruit to eat, and arrayed her in robes and ornaments, and in order to keep her safe he put her in a box which he swallowed, and so guarded her in his belly.

One day he wished to bathe, and coming to the tank he threw up the box and taking her out of it he bathed and anointed her, and when he had dressed her he said: “For a short time enjoy yourself in the open air,” and without suspecting any harm he went a little distance and bathed. {3.528} At this time the son of Vāyu, who was a magician, girt about with a sword, was walking through the air. When she saw him, she put her hands in a certain position and signed to him to come to her. The magician quickly descended to the ground. Then she placed him in the box, and sat down on it, waiting the approach of the Rakkhasa, and as soon as she saw him coming, before he had drawn near to the box, she opened it, and getting inside lay over the magician, and wrapped her garment about him. The Rakkhasa came and without examining the box, thought it was only the woman, and swallowed the box and set out for his cave. While on the road he thought: “It is a long time since I saw the ascetic, I will go today and pay my respects to him.” So he went to visit him. The ascetic, spying him while he was still a long way off, knew that there were two people in the Rakkhasa’s belly, and uttering the first verse, he said:

1. “Whence come you, friends?
Right welcome all you three!
Be pleased to rest with me awhile,
I pray: I trust you live at ease and happily;
’Tis long since any of you passed this way.”

On hearing this the Rakkhasa thought: “I have come quite alone to see this ascetic, and he speaks of three people: what does he mean? Does he speak from knowing the exact state of things, or is he mad and talking foolishly?” Then he drew near to the ascetic, and saluted him, and sitting at a respectful distance he conversed with him and spoke the second verse: {3.529}

2. “I’ve come to visit you alone today,
Nor does a creature bear me company.
Why do you then, O holy ascetic, say,
Whence come you, friends?
Right welcome, all you three.” [3.315]

Said the ascetic, “Do you really wish to hear the reason?” “Yes, venerable sir.” “Hear then,” he said, and spoke the third verse:

3. “Thyself and your dear wife are twain, be sure;
Enclosed within a box she lies secure:
Safe-guarded ever in your belly, she
With Vāyu’s son does sport her merrily.”

On hearing this the Rakkhasa thought: “Magicians surely are full of tricks: supposing his sword should be in his hand, he will rip open my belly and make his escape.” And being greatly alarmed he threw up the box and placed it before him.

The Teacher, after Fully Awakening to make the matter clear, repeated the fourth verse:

4. “The Rakkhasa by the sword, greatly terrified,
And from his maw disgorged the box upon the ground; {3.530}
His wife, with lovely wreath adorned as if a bride,
With Vāyu’s son disporting merrily was found.”

No sooner was the box opened than the magician muttered a spell and seizing his sword sprang up into the air. On seeing this, the Rakkhasa was so pleased with the Great Being that he repeated the remaining verses, inspired mainly with his praises:

5. “O stern ascetic, your clear vision saw
How low poor man, a woman’s slave, may sink;
As life itself tho’ guarded in my maw,
The wretch did play the wanton, as I think.

6. I tended her with care both day and night,
As forest ascetic cherishes a flame,
And yet she did wrong, beyond all sense of right:
To do with woman needs must end in shame.

7. I thought within my body, hid from sight,
She must be mine – but ‘Wanton’ was her name –
And so she did wrong beyond all sense of right:
To do with woman needs must end in shame.

8. Man with her thousand wiles does vainly cope,
In vain he trusts that his defence is sure;
Like precipices down to Hell that slope,
Poor careless souls she does to doom allure.

9. The man that shuns the path of womankind
Lives happily and from all sorrow free;
He his true bliss in solitude will find,
Afar from woman and her treachery.” {3.531}

With these words the Rakkhasa fell at the feet of the Great Being, and praised him, saying: “Venerable sir, through you my life was saved. Owing to that wicked woman I was nearly killed by the magician.” Then the Bodhisatta expounded the Dhamma to him, saying: “Do no harm to her: [3.316] keep the Precepts,” and established him in the Five Precepts. The Rakkhasa said: “Though I guarded her in my belly, I could not keep her safe. Who else will keep her?” So he let her go, and returned straight to his forest home.

The Teacher, his lesson ended, proclaimed the Truths, and identified the Jātaka. At the conclusion of the Truths the worldly-minded monk attained fruition of the First Path, “In those days the ascetic with Supernormal Powers of sight was myself.”