Ja 507 Mahāpalobhanajātaka
The Long Story about Enticement (20s)
In the present one monk is discontent owing to his love of women. The Buddha tells a story of a prince who disliked women so much he was brought up secluded from them. One female singer was hired by the king to entice him, but when he began to kill potential rivals in jealousy, the king exiled him. In the wilderness the woman seduced an ascetic and ended his Super Knowledges.
The Bodhisatta = prince Anitthigandha (Anitthigandhakumāra).
Present Source: Ja 263 Cullapalobhana,
Quoted at: Ja 507 Mahāpalobhana.
Keywords: Misogyny, Lust, Devas, Women.
“From Brahmā’s Realm.” This story the Teacher told while dwelling in Jetavana, about the defilement of the purified. The circumstances have already been given. Here again the Teacher said: “Women cause defilement even in purified souls,” and then told this story of the past.
In the past in Benares – here the story of the past is to be expanded as in the Cullapalobhanajātaka [Ja 263].
In the past Brahmadatta, the king of Benares, was childless. He said to his queen, “Let us offer prayer for a son.” They offered prayer. After a long time, the Bodhisatta came down from the Brahmā Realm, and was conceived by this queen. So soon as he was born, he was bathed, and given to a serving woman to nurse. As he took the breast, he cried. He was given to another; but while a woman held him, he would not be quiet. So he was given to a man servant; and as soon as the man took him, he was quiet. After that men used to carry him about. When they suckled him, they would milk the breast for him, or they gave him the breast from behind a screen. Even when he grew older, they could not show him a woman. The king caused to be made for him a separate place for sitting or what not, and a separate room for meditation, all by himself.
When the lad was sixteen years old, the king thought thus within himself. “Other son have I none, and this one enjoys no pleasures. He will not even wish for the kingdom. What’s the good of such a son?”
Now once again the Great Being came down from the Brahmā Realm as the king of Kāsi’s son, and his name was prince Anitthigandha, the Woman-hater. In the hands of a woman he would not be; they needed to dress as men to give him the breast; he dwelt in a closet of meditation, and never a woman he saw. Reading, as Fausböll suggests, agacchat’ orena.
To explain this, the Teacher repeated four verses.
1. “From Brahmā’s Realm a Devaputta came upon this earth
As a king’s son whose every wish was law, he had his birth.
2. To Brahmā’s Realm no deed of lust, no mention, ever came:
So born into this world, the prince now loathed its very name.
3. Within the palace he had made a closet all his own,
Where deep in meditation plunged he passed his days alone.
4. The king, grown anxious for his son, laments to know him there:
One only son I have, and he for pleasures will not care.”
The fifth verse describes the king’s lamentation:
5. “O who can tell me what to do! O is there no device?
Who’ll teach him joys of love to crave, and who can him entice?”
The next verse and half a verse, are those spoken after Fully Awakening:
6. “A girl there was, of graceful shape, of fair and lovely skin:
She knew a world of pretty songs, and well could dance and spin.
7a. This maiden sought his majesty, and thus she did begin.”
The other line is spoken by the young girl:
7b. “I will entice him, if you will in marriage grant him me.”
The king made answer to the maid, and thus and thus said he;
8. “Do but succeed in tempting him, your husband he shall be.”
The king now gave orders that all opportunity should be afforded her, and sent her to attend upon the prince. In the morning, taking her lute she went and stood just outside the prince’s sleeping chamber, and touching the lute with her finger-tips tried to tempt him by singing in a sweet voice.
To explain this, the Teacher said:
9. “The maiden went within the house, and where she stood apart,
Sang ditties sweet and languishing, to pierce a lover’s heart.
10. There as the maiden stood and sang, the prince, who heard the sound,
Straight fell in fancy, and he asked the servants waiting round:
11. ‘What is that sound of melody that comes to me so clear,
Piercing the heart with thoughts of love, delightful to my ear?’
12. ‘A maid, your majesty, fair to see, of dalliance infinite:
Would you enjoy the sweets of love, yield, yield to this delight.’
13. ‘Ho, hither, nearer let her come, and let her sing yet more,
Here let her sing before my face within my closet door!’
14. She who had sung without the wall stood in the chamber there:
She caught him, as an elephant is caught in woodland snare.
15. He felt the joy of love, and lo! see jealousy full-grown:
‘No other man shall love! Cries he, but I will love alone!
16. No other man, but I alone!’ He cries; and then away –
Seizes a sword, and runs amuck all other men to slay!
17. The people shouting in alarm all to the palace fly:
‘Your son is slaying every one all unprovoked!’ they cry.
18. Him did the warrior king arrest, and banish from his face:
Within the boundaries of my realm you shall not find a place.
19. He took his wife and travelled on till by the sea he stood
There built a hut of leaves, and lived on gleanings from the wood.
20. A holy ascetic flying came over the ocean high,
He entered the hut at the time the meal was standing by.
21. The woman tempted him: now see how vile a thing was done!
He fell from chastity, and his Super Powers were gone!
22. The evening came; the prince returns, and from his gleaning brings
Hung to his pole a plenteous store of roots and wild-wood things.
23. The ascetic sees the prince approach: down to the shore goes he,
Thinking to travel through the air, but sinks into the sea!
24. But when the prince beheld the sage down-sinking in the sea,
Pity sprang up within him, and these verses then said he;
25. ‘Hither not sailing on the sea, by Super Powers you came,
But now you sink; an evil wife has brought you to this shame.’ These are the same as the first two verse, ii. 228 (translation).
26. Seducing traitresses, they tempt the holiest to his fall:
Down, down they sink: who women know should flee afar from all.
27. Soft-speaking, hard to satisfy, as rivers hard to fill;
Down, down they sink: who women know should flee far from them still.
28. And whomsoever they may serve for gold or for desire,
They burn him up, as fuel burns cast in a blazing fire. These are the same as the first six lines, ii. 226 (translation).
29. The ascetic heard the prince’s word; he loathed the world so vain:
Turned to his former path, That is, he returned to the path of holiness. and rose up in the air again.
30. No sooner had the prince beheld how in the air he rose,
He grieved and with a purpose firm the holy life he chose;
31. Then, turned ascetic, wholly quelled his lust and hot desire;
And passion quelled, to the Brahmā Realm henceforth he did aspire.
This discourse ended, the Teacher said: “Thus, monks, for woman’s sake even sanctified souls do wrong,” then he declared the Truths; now at the conclusion of the Truths, the discontented monk became an Arahat; after which he identified the Jātaka, saying: “At that time I myself was prince Anitthigandha.”
last updated: November 2021