Ja 457 Dhammajātaka
The Story about (the Devaputta named) Dhamma (11s)

Alternative Title: Dhammadevaputtajātaka (Cst)

In the present the monks are discussing how Devadatta fought against the Buddha and was swallowed by the earth. The Buddha tells a story of how two gods gave opposite advice and the one that recommended an evil course fell into hell.

The Bodhisatta = (the god) Dhamma (Righteous),
Devadatta = the god Adhamma (Unrighteous) (Adhammo devaputto),
Devadatta’s followers = his followers (parisā),
the Buddha’s disciples = the rest of the cast (parisā).

Past Compare: Cp 18 Dhammadevaputtacariyā.

Keywords: Ingratitude, Righteousness, Devas.

“I do the right.” This story the Teacher told while dwelling in Jetavana, how Devadatta was swallowed up in the earth. They gathered in the Dhamma Hall to talk, “Friend, Devadatta fell at odds with the Tathāgata, and was swallowed up in the earth.” The Teacher entered and asked what they were talking of as they sat there. They told him. He replied, “Now, monks, he has been swallowed up in the earth because he dealt a blow at my victorious authority; but formerly he dealt a blow at the authority of the Dhamma, and was swallowed up in the earth, and went on his way to nethermost hell.” So saying, he told a story of the past.

In the past, when Brahmadatta was king in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born into the world of the Devaputtas, and was named Dhamma, or Right, while Devadatta was called Adhamma, or Wrong.

As on the Uposatha of the full moon, in the evening when meals were done, men were sitting in enjoyment each at his own house-door in village and city and royal capital, Dhamma appeared before them, poised in the air, in his celestial chariot mounted, and adorned with celestial array, in the midst of a multitude of Accharā, and thus addressed them:

“Take not the life of living creatures, and the other ten paths of evildoing eschew, fulfil the duty of service to mother and the duty of service to father and the threefold course of right; Right doing, right saying, right thinking. {4.101} thus you shall become destined for heaven, and shall receive great glory.” Thus did he urge men [4.65] to follow the ten paths of doing right, and made a solemn circuit around Jambudīpa right-wise. But Adhamma taught them, “Kill that which lives,” and in like manner urged men to follow the other ten paths of evildoing, and made a circuit around Jambudīpa left-wise.

Now their chariots met face to face in the air, and their attendant multitudes asked each the other, “Whose are you?” “And whose are you?” They replied, “We are of Dhamma,” and, “We of Adhamma,” and made room, so that their paths were divided. But Dhamma said to Adhamma, “Good sir, you are Adhamma, and I am Dhamma; I have the right of way; turn your chariot aside, and give me way,” repeating the first verse:

1. “I do the right, men’s fame is of my grace,
Me sages and me brahmins ever praise,
Worshipped of men and gods, the right of way
Is mine. Right am I; then, O Wrong, give place!”

These next follow:

2. “In the strong car of Wrong enthroned on high
Me mighty there is nought can terrify:
Then why should I, who never yet gave place,
Make way today for Right to pass me by?”

3. “Right cf. Pali text, iii. 29 (translation, p. 19). of a truth was first made manifest,
Primeval he, the oldest, and the best;
Wrong was the younger, later born in time.
Way, younger, at the elder-born’s behest!”

4. “Nor if you worthy be, nor if you pray,
Nor if it be but fair, will I give way: {4.102}
Here let us two today a battle wage;
He shall have place, whoever wins the fray.”

5. “Known am I in all regions far and near,
Mighty, of boundless glory, without peer,
All virtues are united in my form.
Right am I: Wrong, how can you conquer here?

6. By iron gold is beaten, nor do we
Gold used for beating iron ever see:
If Wrong ’gainst Right shall win the fight today,
Iron as beautiful as gold will be.

7. If you indeed are mighty in the fray,
Though neither good nor wise is what you say,
Swallow I will all these your evil words;
And willy nilly I will make you way.”

These six verses they repeated, one answering the other. {4.103}

But at the very moment when the Bodhisatta repeated this verse, Adhamma could no longer stand in his carriage, but head-foremost plunged into the earth which gaped to receive him, and was born again in nethermost hell. [4.66]

The Fortunate One no sooner perceived that this had happened, than after Fully Awakening he recited the remaining verses:

8. “The words no sooner heard, Wrong from the height
Plunged over heels head-foremost out of sight:
This was the end and direful fate of Wrong.
I had no battle, though I longed to fight.

9. Thus by the Mighty-in-Forbearance lies
Conquered the Mighty Warrior Wrong, and dies
Swallowed in earth: the other, joyful, strong,
Truth-armoured, in his car away he hies.

10. Who in his house no due observance pays
To parents, sages, brahmins, when he lays
The body down, and bursts its bonds asunder,
He, even from this world, goes straight to hell,
Even as Adhamma down head-foremost fell.

11. Who in his house all due observance pays
To parents, sages, brahmins, when he lays
The body down, and bursts its bonds asunder,
Straight from this world, onward to heaven he hies,
As Dhamma in his chariot sought the skies.” {4.104}

When the Teacher had ended this discourse, he said: “Not only now, monks, but in former times also, Devadatta attacked me, and was swallowed up in the earth,” then he identified the Jātaka, “At that time Devadatta was Adhamma, and his attendants were the attendants of Devadatta, and I was Dhamma, and the Buddha’s attendants were the attendants of Dhamma.”