Ja 473 Mittāmittajātaka
The Story about Friends and Foes (12s)
In the present courtiers who are jealous of one honest courtier try to slander him, and the king goes to the Buddha to find out if what they say is true. The Buddha tells a story of a similar situation in the past, and the signs by which a friend and a foe can be identified.
The Bodhisatta = the wise minister (paṇḍitāmacca),
Ānanda = the king (of Benares) (rājā).
Keywords: Slander, Truth.
“How should the wise.”
This man, they say, was most useful to the king, and then the king bestowed on him great honour. The other courtiers being unable to stomach him, accused him to the king of having done things to the king’s hurt. The king made enquiry about him, and finding in him no fault, thought: “I see no fault in the man; how can I know whether he be my friend or foe?” Then he thought: “No one, save the Tathāgata,
In the past, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was a courtier who advised him on things spiritual and things temporal. At that time, the rest slandered a certain courtier who was upright. The king seeing no fault in him, asked the Great Being, “Now in what can one tell friend or foe?” repeating the first verse:
1. “How should the wise and prudent strive, how may discernment know,
What deeds declare to eye or ear the man that is a foe?”
Then the Great Being repeated these five verses to explain the marks of an enemy:
2. “He smiles not when you see him, no welcome will he show,
He will not turn his eyes that way, and answers you with ‘No’. This couplet has occurred already in vol. ii. p. 92, of the translation.
3. Your enemies he honours, he cares not for your friends,
Those who would praise your worth, he stays, your slanderers commends.
4. No secret tells he to you, your secret he betrays,
Speaks never well of what you do, your wisdom will not praise.
5. He joys not at your welfare, but at your evil fame:
Should he receive some dainty, he thinks not of your name,
Nor pities you, nor cries aloud – ‘O, had my friend the same!’
6. These are the sixteen tokens by which a foe you see
These if a wise man sees or hears he knows his enemy. This also occurs above, vol. ii. p. 92, of this translation (two words differ).
How should the wise and prudent strive, what will discernment lend,
What deeds declare to eye and ear the man that is a friend?”
The other, thus questioned in these lines, recited the remaining verses:
7. “The absent he remembers; returned, he will rejoice:
Then in the height of his delight he greets you with his voice.
8. Your foes he never honours, he loves to serve your friends,
Those who would slander you, he stays; who praise you, he commends.
9. He tells his secrets to you, your secret ne’er betrays,
Speaks ever well of all you do, your wisdom loves to praise.
10. He joys to hear your welfare, not in your evil fame:
Should he receive some dainty, he straight thinks on your name,
And pities you, and cries aloud – ‘O had my friend the same!’
11. These are the sixteen tokens in friends established well,
Which if a wise man sees or hears he can a true friend tell.”
The king, delighted at the speech of the Great Being, gave him the highest honour.
The Teacher, having ended this discourse, said: “Thus, great king, this question arose in days of yore, even as now, and wise men said their say; by these two-and-thirty signs may friend or foe be known.” With those words, he identified the Jātaka, “At that time, Ānanda was the king, and I myself was the wise courtier.”
last updated: November 2021