Ja 513 Jayaddisajātaka
The Story about (Prince) Jayaddisa (30s)
In the present one monk supports his parents who have fallen into poverty and have no one left at home to support them. The Buddha tells a story of a boy who was adopted by a Yakkhini, and lived on human flesh. One day a king was caught by him and the king’s son persuaded him he was a man, and to give up his evil habits.
The Bodhisatta = prince Alīnasattu (Alīnasattukumāra),
Aṅgulimāla = the man-eater (porisāda),
Rāhulamātā = the queen (aggamahesī),
Uppalavaṇṇā = the younger sister (kaniṭṭhā),
Sāriputta = the ascetic (tāpasa),
members of the royal family = the mother and father (mātāpitaro).
Present Source: Ja 540 Sāma,
Quoted at: Ja 164 Gijjha, Ja 398 Sutano, Ja 399 Gijjha, Ja 455 Mātiposaka, Ja 484 Sālikedāra, Ja 513 Jayaddisa, Ja 532 Sonananda,
Past Compare: Ja 503 Sattigumba, Ja 513 Jayaddisa, Ja 537 Mahāsutasoma.
Keywords: Virtue, Cannabilism, Conversion, Devas.
They say that there was a wealthy merchant at Sāvatthi, who was worth eighteen crores; and he had a son who was very dear and winning to his father and mother. One day the youth went upon the terrace of the house, and opened a window and looked down on the street; and when he saw the great crowd going to Jetavana with perfumes and garlands in their hands to hear the Dhamma preached, he exclaimed that he would go too.
So having ordered perfumes and garlands to be brought, he went to the monastery, and having distributed robes, medicines, drinks, etc. to the assembly and honoured the Fortunate One with perfumes and garlands, he sat down on one side. After hearing the Dhamma, and perceiving the evil consequences of desire and the blessings arising from adopting the ascetic life, when the assembly broke up he asked the Fortunate One for ordination, but he was told that the Tathāgatas do not ordain anyone who has not obtained the permission of his parents; so he went away, and lived a week without food, and having at last obtained his parents’ consent, he returned and begged for ordination. The Teacher sent a monk who ordained him; and after he was ordained he obtained great honour and gain; he won the favour of his teachers and preceptors, and having received full orders he mastered the Dhamma in five years.
Then he thought to himself, “I live here distracted – it is not suitable for me,” and he became anxious to reach the goal of spiritual insight; so having obtained instruction in meditation from his teacher, he departed to a frontier village and dwelt in the forest, and there having entered a course of insight, however much he laboured and strove for twelve years, he failed to attain any special insight.
His parents also, as time went on, became poor, for those who hired their land or carried on merchandise for them, finding out that there was no son or brother in the family to enforce the payment, seized what they could lay their hands upon and ran away as they pleased, and the servants and labourers in the house seized the gold and coin and made off therewith, so that at the end the two were reduced to an evil plight and had not even a jug for pouring water; and at last they sold their dwelling, and finding themselves homeless, and in extreme misery, they wandered begging for alms, clothed in rags and carrying potsherds in their hands.
Now at that time a monk came from Jetavana to the son’s place of abode; he performed the duties of hospitality and, as he sat quietly, he first asked whence he was come; and learning that he was come from Jetavana he asked after the health of the Teacher and the principal disciples and then asked for news of his parents, “Tell me, sir, about the welfare of such and such a merchant’s family in Sāvatthi.” “O friend, don’t ask for news of that family.” “Why not, sir?” “They say that there was one son in that family, but he has become an ascetic in this dispensation, and since he left the world that family has gone to ruin; and at the present time the two old people are reduced to a most lamentable state and beg for alms.”
When he heard the other’s words he could not remain unmoved, but began to weep with his eyes full of tears, and when the other asked him why he wept, “O sir,” he replied, “they are my own father and mother, I am their son.” “O friend, your father and mother have come to ruin through you – do you go and take care of them.” “For twelve years,” he thought to himself, “I have laboured and striven but never been able to attain the Path or the Fruit: I must be incompetent; what have I to do with the ascetic life? I will become a householder and will support my parents and give away my wealth, and will thus eventually become destined for heaven.”
So having determined he gave up his abode in the forest to the elder, and the next day departed and by successive stages reached the monastery at the back of Jetavana which is not far from Sāvatthi. There he found two roads, one leading to Jetavana, the other to Sāvatthi. As he stood there, he thought: “Shall I see my parents first or the One with Ten Powers?” Then he said to himself, “In old days I saw my parents for a long time, from henceforth I shall rarely have the chance of seeing the Buddha; I will see the Fully Awakened One today and hear the Dhamma, and then tomorrow morning I will see my parents.” So he left the road to Sāvatthi and in the evening arrived at Jetavana.
Now that very day at daybreak, the Teacher, as he looked upon the world, had seen the potentialities of this young man, and when he came to visit him he praised the virtues of parents in the Mātiposakasutta [SN 7.19]. As he stood at the end of the assembly of elders and listened, he thought: “If I become a householder I can support my parents; but the Teacher also says, ‘A son who has become an ascetic can be helpful,’ I went away before without seeing the Teacher, and I failed in such an imperfect ordination; I will now support my parents while still remaining an ascetic without becoming a householder.” So he took his ticket and his ticket-food and gruel, and felt as if he had committed a wrong deserving expulsion after a solitary abode of twelve years in the forest. In the morning he went to Sāvatthi and he thought to himself, “Shall I first get the gruel or see my parents?” He reflected that it would not be right to visit them in their poverty empty-handed; so he first got the gruel and then went to the door of their old house.
When he saw them sitting by the opposite wall after having gone their round for the alms given in broth, he stood not far from them in a sudden burst of sorrow with his eyes full of tears. They saw him but knew him not; then his mother, thinking that it was someone standing for alms, said to him, “We have nothing fit to be given to you, be pleased to pass on.” When he heard her, he repressed the grief which filled his heart and remained still standing as before with his eyes full of tears, and when he was addressed a second and a third time he still continued standing.
At last the father said to the mother, “Go to him; can this be your son?” She rose and went to him and, recognising him, fell at his feet and lamented, and the father also joined his lamentations, and there was a loud outburst of sorrow. To see his parents he could not control himself, but burst into tears; then, after yielding to his feelings, he said: “Do not grieve, I will support you,” so having comforted them and made them drink some gruel, and sit down on one side, he went again and begged for some food and gave it to them, and then went and asked for alms for himself, and having finished his meal, took up his abode at a short distance off.
From that day forward he watched over his parents in this manner; he gave them all the alms he received for himself, even those at the fortnightly distributions, and he went on separate expeditions for his own alms, and ate them; and whatever food he received as provision for the rainy season he gave to them, while he took their worn-out garments and dyed them with the doors fast closed and used them himself; but the days were few when he gained alms and there were many when he failed to win anything, and his inner and outer clothing became very rough.
As he watched over his parents he gradually grew very pale and thin and his friends and intimates said to him, “Your complexion used to be bright, but now you have become very pale – has some illness come upon you?” He replied, “No illness has come upon me, but a hindrance has befallen me,” and he told them the history. “Sir,” they replied, “the Teacher does not allow us to waste the offerings of the faithful, you do an unlawful act in giving to laymen the offerings of the faithful.” When he heard this he shrank away ashamed.
But not satisfied with this they went and told it to the Teacher, saying: “So and so, sir, has wasted the offerings of the faithful and used them to feed laymen.” The Teacher sent for the young man of family and said to him, “Is it true that you, an ascetic, take the offerings of the faithful and support laymen with them?” He confessed that it was true. Then the Teacher, wishing to praise what he had done and to declare an old action of his own, said: “When you support laymen whom do you support?” “My parents,” he answered. Then the Teacher, wishing to encourage him still more said: “Well done, well done,” three times, “You are in a path which I have traversed before you: I in old time, while going the round for alms, supported my parents.” The ascetic was encouraged thereby.
But on this occasion the Teacher said: “Sages of old gave up the white umbrella with its golden wreath to support their parents,” and with these words he told a story of the past.
In the past there lived a king in a city of the northern Pañcālas, in the kingdom of Kampilla, named Pañcāla. His queen consort conceived and gave birth to a son. In a former existence her rival in the harem, being in a rage, said: “Some day I shall be able to devour your offspring,” and putting up a prayer to this effect she was turned into a Yakkhini. Then she found her opportunity and, seizing the child before the very eyes of the queen and crunching and devouring it as if it were a piece of raw flesh, she made off. A second time she did exactly the same thing, but on the third occasion, when the queen had entered into her lying-in chamber, a guard surrounded the palace and kept a strict watch.
On the day when she brought forth, the Yakkhini
The boy did not know that he was a human being; but, though he believed himself to be the son of the Yakkhini, he could not get rid of or conceal his bodily form. So to bring this about she gave him a certain root. And by virtue of this root he concealed his form and continued to live on human flesh. Now the Yakkhini went away to do service to the great king Vessavaṇa, One of the four great Yakkha kings, the Hindū Plutus [and King of the Nāgas.] and died then and there.
But the queen for the fourth time
But the son of the Yakkhini by carelessly destroying the root was unable to hide himself, but living in the cemetery he devoured human flesh in a visible form. People on seeing him were alarmed, and came and complained to the king, “Sire, a Yakkha in a visible shape is eating human flesh in the cemetery. In course of time he will find his way into the city and kill and eat the people. You ought to have him caught.”
The king readily assented, and gave orders for his seizure. An armed force was stationed all round the city. The son of the Yakkhini, naked and horrible to look upon, with the fear of death upon him, cried aloud and sprang into the midst of the soldiers. They, with a cry of “Here’s the Yakkha,” alarmed for their very lives, broke into two divisions and fled. And the Yakkha, escaping from thence, hid himself in the forest and no longer approached the haunts of men. And he took up his abode at the foot of a banyan tree near a high-road through the forest, and as people travelled by it, he would seize them one by one, and entering the wood killed and ate them.
Now a brahmin, at the head of a caravan, gave a thousand pieces of money to the warders of the forest, and was journeying along the road with five hundred wagons. The Yakkha in human shape leaped upon them with a roar. The men fled in terror and lay grovelling on the ground. He seized the brahmin, and
On the seventh day after this, king Jayaddisa proclaimed a hunt and set out from the city. Just as he was starting,
1. “Lo! After my long seven days’ fast
A mighty prey appears at last!
Pray tell me, are you known to fame?
I fain would hear your race and name.”
The king was terrified at the sight of the Yakkha, and, becoming as rigid as a pillar, was unable to flee; but, recovering his presence of mind, he spoke the second verse:
2. “Jayaddisa, if known to you,
Pañcāla’s king I claim to be:
Hunting through fen and wood I stray:
Eat you this deer; free me, I pray.”
The Yakkha, on hearing this, repeated the third verse:
3. “To save your skin, you offer me this food
This quarry, king, to which my claim is good:
Know I will eat you first, and yet not balk
My taste for venison: cease from idle talk.”
The king, on hearing this, called to mind the brahmin Nanda, and spoke the fourth verse:
4. “Should I not purchase the release I crave,
Yet let me keep the promise that I gave
A brahmin friend. Tomorrow’s dawn shall see
My honour saved, and my return to you.”
The Yakkha, on hearing this, spoke the fifth verse:
5. “Standing so near to death, what is the thing
That thus do sorely trouble you, O king?
Tell me the truth, that so perhaps we may
Consent to let you go for one brief day.”
The king, explaining the matter, spoke the sixth verse:
6. “A promise once I to a brahmin made;
That promise still is due, that debt unpaid:
The vow fulfilled, tomorrow’s dawn shall see
My honour saved, and my return to you.”
On hearing this, the Yakkha spoke the seventh verse:
7. “A promise to a brahmin you have made;
That promise still is due, that vow unpaid.
Fulfil your vow, and let tomorrow see
Your honour saved and your return to me.”
And having thus spoken, he let the king go. And he, being allowed to depart, said: “Do not be troubled about me; I will return at daybreak,” and, taking note of certain landmarks by the way, he returned to his army, and with this escort made his entrance into the city. Then he summoned the brahmin Nanda, seated him on a splendid throne, and, after hearing his verses, presented him with four thousand pieces of money. And he made the brahmin mount a chariot and sent him away, bidding his servants conduct him straight to Taxila. On the next day, being anxious to return, he called his son, and thus instructed him.
The Teacher, to explain the matter, spoke two verses:
8. “Escaped from cruel Yakkha he did come
Full of sweet longings to his lovely home:
His word to brahmin friend he never broke,
But thus to dear Alīnasattu spoke.
9. ‘My son, reign you anointed king today
Ruling o’er friend and foe with righteous sway;
Let no injustice mar your happy state;
I now from cruel Yakkha seek my fate.’ ”
The prince, on hearing this, spoke the tenth verse:
10. “Fain would I learn what act or word
Lost me the favour of my lord,
That you should raise me to the throne
Which, losing you, I would not own.”
The king, on hearing this, spoke the next verse:
11. “Dear son, I fail to call to mind
A single word or act unkind,
But now that honour’s debt is paid,
I’ll keep the vow to Yakkha made.”
The prince, on hearing this, spoke a verse:
12. “Nay, I will go and you stay here;
No hope of safe return, I fear.
But should you go, I’ll follow you
And both alike will cease to be.”
On hearing this, the king spoke a verse:
13. “With you does moral law agree,
But life would lose all charm for me,
If on wood-spit this Yakkha grim
Should roast and eat you, limb by limb.”
Hearing this, the prince spoke a verse:
14. “If from this Yakkha you will fly,
For you I am prepared to die:
Yea, gladly would I die, O king,
If only life to you I bring.”
On hearing this the king, recognizing his son’s virtue, accepted his offer, saying: “Well, go, dear son.” And so he bade his parents farewell and left the city.
The Teacher, to make the matter clear, spoke half a verse:
15a. “Then the brave prince to his dear parents bade
A last farewell, with low obeisance made.”
Then his parents and his sister and wife and the courtiers went forth from the city with him. And the prince here inquired of his father as to the way, and, after making careful arrangements and having admonished the others, he ascended the road and made for the abode of the Yakkha, as fearless as a maned lion. His mother, seeing him depart, could not restrain herself and fell fainting on the earth. His father, stretching out his arms, wept aloud.
The Teacher, making the matter clear, spoke the other half verse:
15b. “His sire with outstretched arms, his son to stay,
Wept sore. His mother, grieving, swooned away.”
And, thus making clear the prayer uttered by the father and the Assertion of Truth repeated by the mother and sister and wife, he uttered yet four more verses:
16. “But when his son had vanished quite
From his despairing father’s sight,
With hands upraised the gods he praised
Kings Varuna and Soma hight,
Brahmā and lords of Day and Night.
By these kept safe and sound of limb,
Escape, dear son, from Yakkha grim.
17. As Rāma’s fair-limbed mother won See Rāmāyaṇa, book iii.
Emancipation for her absent son,
When woods of Daṇḍaka he sought,
So for my child is freedom wrought;
By this Truth Assertion I’ve charmed
The gods to bring you home unharmed.
18. Brother, in you no fault at all
Open or secret I recall;
By this Truth Assertion I’ve charmed
The gods to bring you home unharmed.
19. Void of offence are you to me,
I too, my lord, bear love to you;
By this Truth Assertion I’ve charmed
The gods to bring you home unharmed.”
And the prince, following his father’s directions, set out on the road to the dwelling of the Yakkha. But the Yakkha thought: “Nobles have many wiles: who knows what will happen?” and climbing the tree he sat looking out for the coming of the king. On seeing the prince, he thought: “The son has stopped his father and is coming himself. There’s no fear about him.” And descending from the tree he sat with his back to him. On coming up the youth stood in front of the Yakkha, who then spoke this verse:
20. “Whence are you, youth so fair and fine?
Knowest you this forest realm is mine?
They hold their lives but cheap who come
Where savage Yakkhas find a home.
Hearing this, the youth spoke this verse:
21. “I know you, cruel Yakkha, well;
Within this forest you do dwell.
Jayaddisa’s true son stands here:
Eat me and free my father dear.”
Then the Yakkha spoke this verse:
22. “Jayaddisa’s true son I know;
Your looks confess that it is so.
A hardship surely ’tis for you
To die, to set your father free.”
Then the youth spoke this verse:
23. “No mighty deed is this, I feel,
To die, and for a father’s weal
And mother’s love to pass away
And win the bliss of heaven for aye.”
On hearing this, the Yakkha said: “There is no creature, prince, that
24. “No evil deed of mine at all,
Open or secret, I recall:
Well weighed are birth and death by me,
As here, so ’tis in worlds to be.
25. Eat me today, O mighty one,
And do the deed that must be done.
I’ll fall down dead from some high tree,
Then eat my flesh, as pleaseth you.”
The Yakkha, on hearing his words, was terrified and said: “One cannot eat this man’s flesh,” and, thinking by some stratagem to make him run away, he said:
26. “If ’tis your will to sacrifice
Your life, young prince, to free your sire,
Then go in haste is my advice
And gather sticks to light a fire.”
Having done so, the youth returned to him.
The Teacher, to make the matter clear, spoke another verse:
27. “Then the brave prince did gather wood
And, rearing high a mighty pyre,
Cried, lighting it, prepare your food;
See! I have made a goodly fire.”
The Yakkha, when he saw the prince had returned and made a fire, said: “This is a lion-hearted fellow. Death has no terrors for him. Up to this time I have never seen so fearless a man.” And he sat there, astounded, from time to time looking at the youth. And he, seeing what the Yakkha was about, spoke this verse:
28. “Stand not and gaze in dumb amaze,
Take me and slay, and eat, I pray,
While still alive, I will contrive
To make you fain to eat today.”
Then the Yakkha, hearing his words, spoke this verse:
29. “One so truthful, kindly, just,
Surely never may be eaten,
Or his head, who eats you, must
Be to sevenfold pieces broken.”
The prince, on hearing this, said: “If you do not want to eat me, why did you bid me break sticks and make a fire?” and when the Yakkha replied, “It was to test you; for I thought you would run away,” the prince said: “How now will you test me, seeing that, when in an animal form, I allowed
30. “To Sakka See Ja 316 Sasajātaka. The commentary adds that in the present Kalpa the moon is marked by a Yakkha instead of a hare. once like some poor brahmin dressed
The hare did offer its own flesh to eat;
Thenceforth its form was on the moon impressed;
That gracious orb as Yakkha now we greet.”
The Yakkha, on hearing this, let the prince go and said,
31. “As the clear moon from Rāhu’s grip set free
Shines at mid-month with wonted brilliancy,
So too do you, Kampilla’s lord of might,
Escaped from Yakkha, shed the joyous light
Of your bright presence, sorrowing friends to cheer,
And bring back gladness to your parents dear.”
And saying: “Go, heroic soul,” he let the Great Being depart. And having made the Yakkha humble, he taught him the Five Precepts, and, wishing to put it to the test whether or not he was a Yakkha, he thought: “The eyes of Yakkhas are red and do not wink. They cast no shadow and are free from all fear. This is no Yakkha; it is a man. They say my father had three brothers carried off by a Yakkhini; two of them must have been devoured by her, and one will have been cherished by her with the love of a mother for her child: this must be he. I will take him with me and tell my father, and have him established on the throne.”
And so thinking he cried, “Ho! Sir, you are no Yakkha; you are my father’s elder brother. Well, come with me and raise your umbrella as emblem of sovereignty in your ancestral kingdom.” And when he replied, “I am not a man,” the prince said: “You do not believe me. Is there any one you will believe?” “Yes,” he said, “in such and such a place there is an ascetic gifted with supernatural vision.” So he took the Yakkha with him and went there. The ascetic no sooner caught sight of them than he said: “With what object are you two descendants from a common ancestor walking here?” And with these words he told them how they were related. The man-eater believed and said: “Dear friend, do you go home: as for me, I am born with two natures in one form. I have no wish to be a king. I’ll become an ascetic.” So he was ordained to the ascetic life by the ascetic. Then the prince saluted him and returned to the city.
The Teacher, to make the matter clear, spoke this verse:
32. “Then did bold prince Alīnasattu pay
All due obeisance to that Yakkha grim,
And free once more did wend his happy way
Back to Kampilla, safe and sound of limb.”
And when the youth reached the city, the Teacher explained to the townsfolk and the rest what the prince had done, and spoke the last verse:
33. “Thus faring forth afoot from town and countryside,
Lo! Eager throngs proclaim
The doughty hero’s name,
Or as aloft on car or elephant they ride
With homage due they come
To lead the victor home.”
The king heard that the prince had returned and set out to meet him, and the prince, escorted by a great multitude, came and saluted the king. And he asked him, saying: “Dear son, how have you escaped from so terrible a Yakkha?” And he said: “Dear father, he is no Yakkha; he is your elder brother and my uncle.” And he told him all about it and said: “You must go and see my uncle.” The king at once ordered a drum to be beaten, and set out with a great retinue to visit the ascetics. The chief ascetic told them the whole story in full; how the child had been carried off by a Yakkhini, and how instead of eating him she had brought him up as a Yakkha, and how they were related one to another. The king said: “Come, brother, do you reign as king.” “No, thank you, sire,” he replied. “Then come and take up your abode in our park and I will supply you with the four requisites.” He refused to come. Then the king made a settlement on a certain mountain, not far from their hermitage, and, forming a lake, prepared cultivated fields and, bringing a thousand families with much treasure, he founded a big village and instituted a system of almsgiving for the ascetics. This village grew into the town Cullakammāsadamma.
The region where the Yakkha was tamed by the Great Being Sutasoma was to be known as the town of Mahākammāsadamma. The founding of a place of this name occurs at the end of the Mahāsutasomajātaka, vol. v. p. 511. [The two stories have much in common.]
The Teacher, having ended his lesson, revealed the Truths and identified the Jātaka. At the conclusion of the Truths the elder who supported his mother was established in the fruition of the First Path. “At that time the father and mother were members of the king’s household, the ascetic was Sāriputta, the man-eater was Aṅgulimāla, the young sister was Uppalavaṇṇā, the queen consort was Rāhula’s mother, prince Alīnasattu was myself.”
last updated: November 2021