Book X. Dasanipāta
The Section with Ten Verses
Ja 439 Catudvārajātaka See Avadāna-Śataka, iii. 6. (36), and Feer’s note on p. 137 of that book.
The Story about the Four Doors
Alternative Title: Mahāmittavindakajātaka (Comm)
In the present one monk, though taught the way of a monastic, refuses to listen, and wants to live according to his own ideas. The Buddha tells how in a previous life the same person had been disobedient to his mother, and had suffered greatly as a result.
The Bodhisatta = the King of the Gods (Devarājā),
the disobedient monk = (the rich young man) Mittavindaka.
Present Source: Ja 427 Gijjha,
Quoted at: Ja 116 Dubbaca, Ja 161 Indasamānagotta, Ja 369 Mittavinda, Ja 439 Catudvāra,
Past Compare: Ja 41 Losaka, Ja 82 Mittavinda, Ja 104 Mittavinda, Ja 369 Mittavinda, Ja 439 Catudvāra.
Keywords: Wilfulness, Greed, Retribution, Devas.
This story the Teacher told at Jetavana concerning a disobedient monk. He was, they say, of gentle birth, and though ordained in the dispensation that leads to safety, was admonished by his well-wishers, masters, teachers, and fellow-students to this effect, “Thus must you advance and thus retreat; thus look at or away from objects; thus must the arm be stretched out or drawn back; thus are the inner and outer garment to be worn; thus is the bowl to be held, and when you have received sufficient food to sustain life, after self-examination, thus are you to partake of it, keeping guard over the door of the senses; in eating you are to be moderate and exercise watchfulness; you are to recognize such and such duties towards monks who come to or go from the monastery; these are the fourteen sets of monastic duties, and the eighty great duties to be duly performed; these are the thirteen ascetic practices; all these are to be scrupulously performed.” Yet was he disobedient and impatient, and did not receive instruction respectfully, but refused to listen to them, saying: “I do not find fault with you. Why do you speak thus to me? I shall know what is for my good, and what is not.”
Then the monks, hearing of his disobedience, sat in the Dhamma Hall, telling of his faults. The Teacher came and asked them what it was they were discussing, and sent for the monk.
Here again the Teacher asked this monk, “Is it true, as they say, that you are disobedient?” “Yes, sir.” “Long ago,” said he, “when by disobedience you refused to do the bidding of wise men, a razor-wheel was given to you.” And he told a story of the past.
In the past, in the days of Kassapa, the One with Ten Powers, there dwelt in Benares a merchant, whose wealth was eighty crores of money, having a son named Mittavindaka. The mother and father of this lad had entered upon the First Path, but he was wicked, an unbeliever.
When by and by the father was dead and gone, the mother, who in his stead managed their property, thus said to her son, “My son, the state of man is one hard to attain; Among the five gatis. give alms, practise virtue, keep the holy day, give ear to the Dhamma.” Then said he, “Mother, no almsgiving or such like for me; never name them to me; as I live, so shall I fare hereafter.” On a certain full-moon holy day, as he spoke in this fashion, his mother answered, “Son, this day is set apart as a high holy day. Today take upon you the holy day vows; visit the cloister, and all night long listen to the Dhamma, and when you come back I will give you a thousand pieces of money.”
For desire of this money the son consented. As soon as he had broken his fast he went to the monastery, and there he spent the day; but at
Now the mother thought within herself, “Today my son after hearing the Dhamma will come back early in the morning, bringing with him the elder who has preached the Dhamma.” So she made ready gruel, and food hard and soft, and prepared a seat, and awaited his coming. When she saw her son coming all alone, “Son,” said she, “why have you not brought the preacher with you?” “No preacher for me, mother!” says he. “Here then,” said the woman, “you drink this gruel.” “You promised me a thousand pieces, mother,” he says, “first give this to me, and afterward I will drink.” “Drink first, my son, and then you shall have the money.” Said he, “No, I will not drink till I get the money.” Then his mother laid before him a purse of a thousand pieces. And he drank the gruel, took the purse with a thousand pieces, and went about his business; and so thereafter, until in no long time he had gained two million.
Then it came into his mind that he would equip a ship, and do business with it. So he equipped a ship, and said to his mother, “Mother, I mean to do business in this ship.” Said she, “You are my only son, and in this house there is plenty of wealth; the sea is full of dangers. Do not go!” But he said: “Go I will, and you cannot prevent me.” “Yes, I will prevent you,” she answered, and took hold of his hand; but he thrust her hand away, and struck her down, and in a moment he was gone, and under way.
On the seventh day, because of Mittavindaka, the ship stood immovable upon the deep. Lots were cast, and thrice was the lot found in the hand of Mittavindaka. The reader will be reminded of the story of Jonah. Then they gave him a raft; and saying: “Let not many perish for the sole sake of this one,” they cast him adrift upon the deep. In an instant the ship sprang forth with speed over the deep.
And he upon his raft came to a certain island. There in a crystal palace he espied four female spirits of the dead.
But he, full of longing, again embarked upon his raft, and passing over the ocean came to another isle; there in a palace of silver he saw
So he entered, and there he saw a being in torment, supporting a wheel sharp as a razor; but to Mittavindaka it seemed as though that razor-wheel upon his head were a lotus bloom; the five-fold fetters upon his breast seemed as it were a splendid and rich vesture; the blood dripping from his head seemed to be the perfumed powder of red sandalwood; the sound of groaning was as the sound of sweetest song. So approaching he said: “Hey, man! Long enough you have been carrying that lotus flower; now give it to me!” He replied, “My lord, no lotus it is, but a razor-wheel.” “Ah,” said the first, “so you say because you do not wish to give it.” Thought the condemned wretch, “My past deeds must be exhausted. No doubt this fellow, like me, is here for smiting his mother. Well, I will give him the razor-wheel.” Then he said: “Here then, take the lotus,” and with those words he cast the razor-wheel upon his head; and on his head it fell, crushing it in. In an instant
At that moment the Bodhisatta was a Tree Devatā, and with a great following was making a round through the Ussada hell, and arrived at that spot. Mittavindaka, espying him, cried out, “Lord King of the Gods, this razor-wheel is piercing and tearing me like a pestle crushing mustard seeds! What wrong have I committed?” and in asking this question he repeated these two verses:
1. “Four gates this iron city has, where I am trapped and caught:
A rampart girds me round about: what evil have I wrought?
2. Now fast are closed the city gates: this wheel destroyeth me:
Why like a caged bird am I caught? Why, Yakkha, should it be?”
Then the King of the Gods, to explain the matter to him, uttered these verses:
3. “A hundred thousand you, good sir, did own, and twenty eke:
Yet to a friend you would not lend thine ear, when he would speak.
4. Swift did you flee across the sea, a perilous thing, I ween;
The four, the eight, did visit straight, and with the eight, sixteen,
5. And with sixteen the thirty-two; and lust did ever feel:
See now, the meed of utter greed upon your head, this wheel.
6. Who tread the highway of desire that spacious thoroughfare,
That highway great, insatiate – ’tis theirs this wheel to bear.
7. Who will not sacrifice their wealth, nor to the path repair,
Who do not know this should be so – ’tis theirs this wheel to bear.
8. Ponder the issue of your deeds, and see
How great your wealth, and do not crave to be
Lord of ill-got gains; do what friends advise
And the wheel shall never come nigh to thee.”
Hearing this, Mittavindaka thought to himself, “This Devaputta has explained exactly what I have done. No doubt he knows also the measure of my punishment.” And he repeated the ninth verse:
9. “How long, O Yakkha, shall this wheel upon my head remain?
How many thousand years? Reveal, nor let me ask in vain!”
Then the Great Being declared the matter in the tenth verse:
10. “The wheel shall roll, and on shall roll, no saviour shall appear,
Fixed on your head till you be dead – O Mittavinda, hear!”
Thus saying, the Devaputta returned to his own place, and the other fell into great misery.
The Teacher, having ended this discourse, identified the Jātaka, “At that time the unruly monk was Mittavindaka, and I myself was the King of the Devas.”
last updated: November 2021