Ja 477 Cullanāradajātaka
The Short Story about Nārada
Alternative Title: Cūḷanāradajātaka (Cst); Cūḷanāradakassapajātaka (Comm)
In the present one monk is in danger of falling away from the monastic life through the temptations of a young woman. The Buddha tells a story of a father who took his son and went to the Himālayas to become ascetics. There a woman seduced the son, but after listening to his father’s advice on the troubles of the lay life, he gave up the idea of going to the city with her.
The Bodhisatta = the father (pitā),
the dissatisfied monk = the young ascetic (tāpasakumāra),
the young girl = the same in the past (kumārikā).
Present Source: Ja 477 Cullanāradakassapa,
Quoted at: Ja 30 Muṇika, Ja 106 Udañcani, Ja 286 Sālūka, Ja 348 Arañña, Ja 435 Haliddirāga,
Present Compare: Vin Mv 1 (1.35),
Past Source: Ja 477 Cullanāradakassapa,
Quoted at: Ja 106 Udañcani, Ja 435 Haliddirāga.
Keywords: Renunciation, Sensuality.
“No wood is chopped.”
There was then, we learn, a girl of about sixteen, daughter of a citizen of Sāvatthi, such as might bring good luck to a man, yet no man chose her. So her mother thought to herself, “This my daughter is of full age, yet no one chooses her. I will use her as bait for a fish, and make one of those Sākiyan ascetics come back to the world, and live upon him.”
At the time there was a young man of good birth living in Sāvatthi, who had given his heart to the dispensation and went forth. But from the time when he had received full ordination he had lost all desire for learning, and lived devoted to the adornment of his
The lay sister used to prepare in her house rice gruel, and other food hard or soft, and standing at the door, as the monks walked along the streets, looked out for someone who could be tempted by the craving for delicacies. Streaming by went a crowd of monks who upheld the Three Baskets, including the Abhidhamma and the Vinaya; but among them she saw none ready to rise to her bait. Among the figures with bowl and robe, preachers of the Dhamma with honey-sweet voice, moving like fleecy scud before the wind, she saw not one.
But at last she perceived a man approaching, the outer corners of his eyes anointed, hair hanging down, wearing an under-robe of fine cloth, and an outer robe shaken and cleansed, bearing a bowl coloured like some precious gem, and a sunshade after his own heart, a man who let his senses have their own way, his body much bronzed. “Here is a man I can catch!” thought she; and greeting him, she took his bowl, and invited him into the house. She found him a seat, and provided rice gruel and all the rest; then after the meal, begged him to make that house his resort in future. So he used to visit the house after that, and in course of time became intimate.
One day, the lay sister said in his hearing, “In this household we are happy enough, only I have no son or son-in-law capable of keeping it up.” The man heard it, and wondering what reason she could have for so saying, in a little while he was as it were pierced to the heart. She said to her daughter, “Tempt this man, and get him into your power.” So the girl after that time decked herself and adorned herself, and tempted him with all women’s tricks and wiles.
Then they conducted him to the Teacher, and said: “Sir, this monk is discontented.” “Is this true which they say,” asked he, “that you are discontented, monk?” “Yes, sir, true it is.” “Then what made you so?” “A sensual girl, sir.” “Monk,” said he, “long, long ago, when you were living in the forest, this same girl was a hindrance to your holiness, and did you great harm; then why are you again discontented on her account?” Then at the request of the monks he told a story of the past.
In the past, when Brahmadatta was king in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born into a brahmin family of great wealth, and after his education was finished managed the estate. Then his wife brought forth a son, and died. He thought: “As with my beloved wife, so with me death shall not be ashamed; i.e. it shall master me too one day. what is a home to me? I will become an ascetic.” So forsaking his sensual desires, he went with his son to the Himālayas; and there with him entered upon the ascetic life, developed the Absorptions and Super Knowledges, and dwelt in the woods, supporting life on fruits and roots.
At that time the borderers raided the countryside; and having assailed a town, and taken prisoners, laden with spoil they returned to the border. Amongst them was a maiden, beautiful, but endowed with all a deceitful person’s cunning. This girl thought to herself, “These men, when they have carried us off home, will use us as slaves; I must find some
Now the Bodhisatta had gone out to fetch fruits and the like, leaving his son in the hut. While he was away, this girl, as she wandered about in the forest, came to the hut, in the morning;
When the Great Being came in with his wild fruits, he observed the girl’s footmark. “That is a woman’s footprint,” thought he, “my son’s virtue must have been lost.” Then he entered the hut, and laid down the wild fruit, and put the question to his son by repeating the first verse:
1. “No wood is chopped, and you have brought no water from the pool,
No fire is kindled: why do you lie mooning like a fool?”
Hearing his father’s voice, the lad rose, and greeted him; and with all respect made known that he could not endure a forest life, repeating a couple of verses:
2. “I cannot live in forests: this, O Kassapa, I swear;
Hard is the woodland life, and back to men Literally “the kingdom.” I would repair.
3. Teach me, O brahmin, when I leave, that wheresoe’er I go,
The customs of the countryside I may most fully know.”
“Very good, my son,” said the Great Being, “I will tell you the customs of the country.” And he repeated this couple of verses:
4. “If ’tis your mind to leave behind the woodland fruits and roots
And dwell in cities, hear me teach the way which that life suits:
5. Keep clear of every precipice, from poison keep afar,
Sit never in the mud, and walk with care where serpents are.”
The ascetic’s son, not understanding this pithy counsel, asked:
6. “What has your precipice to do with the ascetic way,
Your mud, your poison, and your snake? Come tell me this, I pray.”
The other explained –
7. “There is a liquor in the world, my son, that men call wine,
Fragrant, delicious, honey-sweet, and cheap, of flavour fine:
This, Nārada, for holy men is poison, say the wise.
8. And women in the world can set fools’ wits a whirling round,
They catch young hearts, as hurricanes catch cotton from the ground:
The precipice I mean is this before the good man lies.
9. High honours shown by other men, respect and fame and gain,
This is the mud, O Nārada, which holy men may stain.
10. Great monarchs with their retinue have in that world dwelling,
And they are great, O Nārada, and each a mighty king:
11. Before the feet of sovereign lords and monarchs walk not you,
For, Nārada, these are the snakes of whom I spake just now.
12. The house you come to for your food, when men sit down to meat,
If you see good within that house, there take your fill, and eat.
13. When by another entertained with food or drink, this do:
Eat not too much, nor drink too much, and fleshly sensual desires eschew.
14. From gossip, drink, lewd company, and shops of goldsmith’s ware,
Keep you afar as those who by the uneven pathway fare.”
As his father went on talking and talking, the lad came to his senses, and said: “Enough of the world for me, dear father!”
When the Teacher had ended this discourse, he identified the Jātaka, “At that time this sensual girl was the young woman, the discontented monk was the ascetic’s son, and I was the father.”
last updated: November 2021