Ja 532 Sonanandajātaka
The Story about (the Wise Ascetics) Sona and Nanda (70s)
Alternative Title: Soṇanandajātaka (Cst)
In the present one monk supports his parents who have fallen into poverty and have no one left at home to support them. When the Buddha finds out he tells a story of two brothers who became ascetics, together with their parents. When one of them brought sour fruit for his parents the other sent him away. To regain favour he performed great deeds and together with all the kings of Jambudīpa went to beg his brother for forgiveness.
The Bodhisatta = the wise (ascetic) Sona (Sonapaṇḍita),
Ānanda = the wise (ascetic) Nanda (Nandapaṇḍita),
Sāriputta = the king (of Benares) Manoja (Manojarājā),
the 80 great elders and others = the 101 kings (ekasatarājā),
the Buddha’s disciples = the 24 armies (catuvīsati akkhobhaṇiyo),
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: Cp 25, Sonapaṇḍitacariya.
Keywords: Filial piety, Forgiveness, Devas.
“Angel or minstrel-god.” This was a story told by the Teacher, while living at Jetavana, about a monk who supported his mother. The circumstance which led up to it was the same as that related in the Sāmajātaka [Ja 540].
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.”
But on this occasion the Teacher said: “Monks, do not take offence at this monk. Sages of old, though they were offered rule over all Jambudīpa, refused to accept it and supported their parents,” and so saying he told a story of the past.
In the past the city of Benares was known as Brahmavaddhana. At that time a king named Manoja [See Ja 397 Manojajātaka.] reigned there, and a certain brahmin magnate, possessed of eighty crores, had no heir, and his brahmin wife at the bidding of her lord prayed for a son. Then the Bodhisatta passing from the Brahmā Realm was conceived in her womb, and at his birth they called him young Sona. By the time that he could run alone, another being left the Brahmā Realm and he too was conceived by her, and when he was born they called him young Nanda. As soon as they had been taught the Vedas and had attained proficiency in the liberal arts, the brahmin, observing how handsome the boys were, addressing his wife said: “Lady, we will unite our son, the youthful Sona, in the bonds of wedlock.” She readily assented and reported the matter to her son.
She repeated this to the brahmin, and when they had spoken to him again and again but had failed to persuade him, they addressed themselves to the young Nanda, saying: “Dear son, do you set up an establishment.” He answered, “I will not pick up what my brother has rejected, as if it were a lump of phlegm. Reading kheḷaṁ. I too on your death will together with my brother join the ascetics.” The parents thought: “If they, though they are quite young, thus give up the sensual desires of the flesh, how much more should all of us adopt the ascetic life,” and they said: “Dear son,
The two brothers watched over their parents. And early in the morning they brought them pieces of stick to brush their teeth and water to rinse their mouth. They swept out the hut, cell and all, supplied them with water to drink, brought them sweet berries from the wood to eat, provided them with hot or cold water for the bath, dressed their matted locks, washed their feet and rendered them all similar services. As time thus passed on, the sage Nanda thought: “I shall have to provide all kinds of fruit as food for my father and mother,” so whatever ordinary fruit he had gathered on the spot either yesterday or even the day before that, The text is probably corrupt; perhaps parāha is concealed in para(m)aho. cf. pare, Jātaka ii. 279. 2, iii. 423. 18, “the day before yesterday,” but in Jātaka iv. 481. 25 it seems to mean “the day after tomorrow,” [cf. Latin] perendie. Cognate words bearing this double meaning are found both in Hindī and Bengālī. he would bring in the early morning and give to his parents to eat. They ate it and after rinsing their mouth they observed a fast.
But the wise Sona went a long distance and gathered sweet and ripe fruit and offered it to them. Then they said: “Dear son, we ate early this morning what your younger brother brought us and we are now fasting. We have no need of this fruit now.” So his fruit was not eaten but was all wasted, and the next day and so on it was just the same.
Then the Great Being thought: “My father and mother are very delicate, and Nanda brings all sorts of unripe or half ripe fruit for them to eat, and this being so, they will not live long. I will stop him from doing this.” So addressing him he said: “Nanda, henceforth when you bring them fruit, you are to wait patimāneti, to wait for. cf. Morris, JPTS 1884, Jātaka i. 258. 17, ii. 288. 14, iv. 203. 27, Milindapañhā i. 14 (S.B.E.). till I come, and we will both of us at the same time supply them with food.” Though he was thus spoken to, desiring merit for himself only, Nanda paid no heed to his brother’s words. The Great Being thought: “Nanda acts improperly in disobeying me: I will send him away.” paṇāmeti to dismiss. cf. Morris, JPTS for 1884, Milindapañhā i. 258, Cullavagga, xii. 2. 3, Jātaka ii. 28. 15. Then thinking he would watch over his parents by himself, he said: “Nanda, you are past teaching and pay no heed to the words of the wise. I am the elder. My father and mother are my charge: I alone will watch over them. You cannot stay on here, get you
After being thus dismissed, Nanda could no longer remain in his brother’s presence, and bidding him farewell he drew near to his parents and told them what had happened. Then retiring into his hut of leaves, he focused on the Meditation Object and that very day he developed the five Super Knowledges and the eight Attainments, and he thought: “I can fetch precious sand from the foot of Mount Sineru and sprinkling it in the cell of my brother’s hut I can ask his forgiveness, and should he not even so be mollified, I will fetch water from Lake Anotatta and ask him to forgive me, and should he not even thus be mollified, supposing my brother should not pardon me for the sake of the earth-bound gods, I would bring the Four Great Kings and Sakka and ask his forgiveness, and should he still not be mollified, I would bring the chief king in all Jambudīpa, Manoja, and the rest of the kings and beg him to pardon me. And this being so, the fame of my brother’s virtue would be spread throughout Jambudīpa and would be blazed abroad as the sun and moon.”
Meanwhile by his Supernormal Powers he alighted in the city of Brahmavaddhana at the door of the king’s palace,
The king when he heard this thought: “Ascetics, verily, are wise: they certainly know some clever tricks.” Then he summoned him to his presence, assigned him a seat and saluting him asked, “Venerable sir, will you, as they tell us, gain the rule over all Jambudīpa and grant it to me?” “Yes, sire.” “How will you manage it?” “Sire, without shedding the blood of any one, no, not even so much as a tiny fly would drink, and without wasting your treasure, by my own Supernormal Powers will I gain the sovereignty and make it over to you. Only, without a moment’s delay, you must sally forth this very day.” The king believed his words and set out, escorted by an army corps. If it was hot for the army, the sage Nanda by his Supernormal Powers created a shade and made it cool. If it rained, he did not allow the rain to fall upon the army. He kept off a hot wind. He did away with stumps and thorns in the road and every kind of danger. He made the road as level as the circle used in the Meditation Object practice, and spreading a skin he sat cross-legged upon it in the air, and so moved in front of the army.
Thus first of all he came with his army to the Kosala kingdom, and, pitching his camp near the city, he sent a message to the king
Sage Nanda went to the Kosala king and reassured him, saying: “Great king, be not dismayed. There is no danger threatening you: the kingdom shall still be yours. Only submit to king Manoja.” He believed what Nanda said and agreed to do so. Then conducting him into the presence of Manoja, Nanda said: “The king of Kosala submits to you, sire: let the kingdom still remain his.” Manoja readily assented and receiving his submission, he marched with the two armies to the kingdom of Aṅga and took Aṅga, and then he took Magadha in the kingdom of that name, and by these means he made himself master of the kings of all Jambudīpa, and accompanied by them he marched straight back to the city of Brahmavaddhana.
Now he was seven years, seven months, and seven days in taking the kingdoms of all these kings, and from each royal city he caused to be brought all manner of food, both hard and soft, and taking the kings, one hundred and one in number, for seven days he held a great party with them. The sage Nanda thought: “I will not show myself to the king until he has enjoyed the pleasures of sovereignty for seven days.” And going his rounds for alms in the country of the northern Kurus, he abode for the space of seven days in the Himālayas, at the entrance of the Golden Cave.
Manoja on the seventh day, after contemplating his great majesty and might, bethought him, “This glory was not given me by my father and mother nor by any one else. It originated through the ascetic Nanda and surely it is now seven days since I set eyes on him. Where in the world can be the friend that bestowed on me this glory?” and he called to mind sage Nanda. And he, knowing that he was remembered, came and stood before him in the air. The king thought: “I do not know whether this ascetic is a man or a deity.
1. “A Devatā or Gandhabba are you, or do we see
Sakka, to cities bountiful, or mortal-born may be,
With magic powers endued? Your name we fain would learn from you.”
On hearing his words Nanda in declaring his nature repeated a second verse:
2. “No Devatā, no Gandhabba, nor Sakka do you see:
A mortal I with magic powers. The truth I tell to you.”
The king, on hearing this, thought: “He says he is a human being; even so he has been useful to me. I will satisfy him with the great honour I pay him,” and he said:
3. “Great service you have wrought for us, beyond all words to tell,
’Midst floods of rain no single drop upon us ever fell.
4. Cool shade you did create for us, when parching winds arose,
From deadly shaft Reading sarattāṇam. you did us shield, amidst our countless foes.
5. Next many a happy realm you made own me as sovereign lord,
Over a hundred kings became obedient to our word.
6. What from our treasures you shall choose, we cheerfully resign,
Cars yoked to steeds or elephants, or nymphs attired so fine,
Or if a lovely palace be your choice, it shall be thine.
7. In Aṅga realms or Magadha if you are fain to live,
Would rule Avanti, Assaka – this too we gladly give.
8. Yea e’en half of all our realm we cheerfully resign,
Say but the word, what you would have, at once it shall be thine.”
Hearing this, sage Nanda, explaining his wishes, said:
9. “No kingdom do I crave, nor any town or land,
Nor do I seek to win great riches at your hand.”
“But if you have any affection for me,” he said, “do my bidding in this one thing:
10. Beneath your sovereign sway my aged parents dwell,
Enjoying holy calm in some lone woodland cell.
11. With these old sages I’m allowed no merit to acquire,
If you and thine would plead my cause, Sona would cease his ire.”
Then the king said to him:
12. “Gladly in this will I perform, O brahmin, your behest,
But who are they that I should take to further your request?”
The sage Nanda said:
13. “More than a hundred householders, rich brahmins too I name,
And all these mighty warrior chiefs of noble birth and fame,
With king Manoja, are enough to satisfy my claim.”
Then the king said:
14. “Go, harness steeds and elephants and yoke them to the car,
Go, fling my banners to the wind, from carriage-pole and bar,
I go to seek where Kosiya, The family name of Sona and his father. the ascetic, dwells afar.”
15. “Equipped then with his fourfold host the king marched out to seek
Where he did dwell in charming cell, an ascetic mild and meek.”
This verse was spoken after Fully Awakening.
Now on the day on which the king reached the hermitage, the sage Sona reflected: “It is now more than seven years, seven months
16. “Who goes to fetch him water through the air at such a pace,
With wooden pole not touching him by quite four inches space?”
The Great Being, being thus addressed, spoke a couple of verses:
17. “I’m Sona; from ascetic rule I never go astray
My parents I unweariedly support by night and day.
18. Berries and roots as food for them I gather in the wood,
Ever recalling to my mind how they once wrought me good.”
Hearing this, the king wishing to make friends with him, spoke another verse:
19. “We fain would reach the hermitage where Kosiya does dwell,
Show us the road, good Sona, which will lead us to his cell.”
Then the Great Being by his supernatural power created a footpath leading to the hermitage and spoke this verse:
20. “This is the path: mark well, O king, that clump of sombre green;
There ’midst a grove of ebon trees the hermitage is seen.”
21. Thus did the mighty sage instruct these warrior kings, and then
Once more he travelled through the air and hurried home again.
22. Next, having swept the hermitage, he sought his sire’s retreat,
And waking up the aged saint he offered him a seat.
23. ‘Come forth, he cried, O holy sage, be seated here, I pray,
For high-born kings of mighty fame will pass along this way.’
24. The old man having heard his son his presence thus implore,
Came forth in haste from out his hut and sat him by the door.”
These verses were spoken after Fully Awakening.
And the sage Nanda came to the king at the very moment when the Bodhisatta reached the hermitage, bringing with him water from Anotatta,
The Teacher, in making this clear, said:
25. “On seeing him all in a blaze of glory standing near,
Surrounded by a band of kings, thus spoke the aged seer:
26. ‘Who marches here with tabour, conch, and beat of sounding drums,
Music to cheer the heart of kings? Who here in triumph comes?
27. Who in this blaze of glory comes, with turban-cloth of gold,
As lightning bright, and quiver-armed, a hero young and bold?
28. Who comes all bright and glorious, with face of golden sheen,
Like embers of acacia wood, aglow in furnace seen?
29. Who comes with his umbrella held aloft in such a way,
That it with ribs so clearly marked wards off the sun’s fierce ray?
30. Who is it, with a yak-tail fan stretched forth to guard his side,
Is seen, like some wise sage, on back of elephant to ride?
31. Who comes in pomp and majesty of parachutes all white,
And mail-clad steeds of noble strain, encircling left and right?
32. Who hither comes, surrounded by a hundred kings or more,
An escort of right noble kings, behind him and before?
33. With elephants, with chariots and with horse and foot brigade,
Who comes with all the pomp of war, in fourfold Elephants, cavalry, chariots and infantry. host arrayed?
34. Who comes with all the legions vast that follow in his train,
Unbroken, limitless as are the billows of the main?’
35. ‘It is Manoja, king of kings, with Nanda here has come,
As though ’twere Sakka, lord of heaven, to this our ascetic home.
36. His is the mighty host that comes, obedient in his train,
Unbroken, limitless as are the billows of the main.’ ”
The Teacher said:
37. “In robe of finest silk arrayed, with sandal oil bedewed,
These kings approach the saintly men in suppliant attitude.”
Then king Manoja with a salutation took his seat apart, and, exchanging friendly greetings, spoke a couple of verses:
38. “O holy men, we trust that you are prosperous and well,
With grain to glean and roots and fruit abundant where you dwell.
39. Have you been much by flies and gnats and creeping things annoyed,
Or from wild beasts of prey have you immunity enjoyed?”
Then these verses were spoken by them as question and answer:
40. “We thank you, king, and answer thus: ‘We prosper and are well,
With grain to glean and roots and fruit abundant where we dwell.
41. From flies and gnats and creeping things we suffer not annoy,
And from wild beasts of prey we here immunity enjoy.
42. Areca nuts for such as live as ascetics here abound,
No harmful sickness that I know has ever here been found.
43. Welcome, These lines occur in No. 503, Sattigumbajātaka, vol. iv. p. 270, English version. O king, a happy chance directed you this way,
Mighty you are and glorious: what errand brings you, pray?
44. The tindook and the piyal leaves, and kāsumārī sweet,
And fruits like honey, take the best we have, O king, and eat.
45. And this cool water from a cave high hidden on a hill,
O mighty monarch, take of it, drink if it be your will.’
46. ‘Accepted is your offering by me and all, but pray
Give ear to what wise Nanda here, our friend, has got to say.
47. For all of us in Nanda’s train as suppliants come to you,
To beg a gracious hearing for poor Nanda’s humble plea.’ ”
The sage Nanda, thus addressed, rose from his seat and saluted his father and mother and brother, and, conversing with his followers, said:
48. “Let country folk, a hundred odd, and brahmins of great fame,
And all these noble warrior chiefs, illustrious in name,
With king Manoja, our great lord, all sanction this my claim.
49. You Yakkhas in this hermitage that are assembled here,
And woodland Bhutas, old and young, bhūtabhavyāni, fully developed and embryo deities: for bhavya, a class of gods, cf. Viṣṇupurāṇa, iii. 12. to what I say give ear.
50. My homage paid to these, I next this holy sage address:
‘In me a brother you did erst as your right hand possess.
51. To serve my aged parents is the boon from you I ask:
Cease, mighty saint, to hinder me in this my holy task.
52. Kind service to our parents has long time been paid by you;
The good approve such deeds – why not yield it in turn to me?
And to the merit I thus win the way to heaven is free.
53. Others there are that know in this the path of duty lies,
It is the way to heaven, as you, O sage, do recognise.
54. And yet a holy man bars me from merit such as this,
When I by service fain would bring my parents perfect bliss.’ ”
Thus addressed by Nanda, the Great Being said: “You have heard what he had to say: now hear me,” and he spoke these verses:
55. “All you that swell my brother’s train, my words now hear in turn;
Whoso shall ancient precedent of his forefathers spurn,
Doing wrong ’gainst his elders, he, reborn in hell, shall burn.
56. But they who are skilled in holy lore the Dhamma may know,
Keeping the moral law, shall ne’er to world of suffering go.
57. Brother and sister, parents, all by kindred tie allied,
A charge upon the eldest son will evermore abide.
58. As eldest son this heavy charge I gladly undertake,
And as a pilot guards his ship, what’s right I’ll ne’er forsake.”
On hearing this all the kings were highly delighted and said: “Today we learn that all the rest of a family are a charge laid upon the eldest,” and they forsook the sage Nanda and became devoted to the Great Being and, singing his praises, recited two verses:
59. “We have found knowledge like a flame that shines at dead of night,
E’en so has holy Kosiya revealed to us what’s right.
60. Just as the sun-god by his rays illumines all the sea,
Showing the form of living things, as good or bad they be,
So holy Kosiya reveals what’s right to me and thee.”
Thus was it that although these kings had so long a time believed in the sage Nanda, from witnessing his wonderful works, yet did the Great Being by the power of knowledge destroy their faith in him, and, causing them to accept his words, thus make them all his most obedient servants. Then the sage Nanda thinking: “My brother is a wise and clever fellow and mighty in the scriptures. He has got the better of these kings and won them over to his side. Except him I have no other refuge. To him only will I make my supplication; and he spoke this verse:
61. “Since you my suppliant attitude heed not, nor outstretched hand,
Your humble bond-slave will I be, to wait at your command.”
The Great Being naturally entertained no angry or hostile feeling towards Nanda, but he had acted as he did by way of rebuking him, in order to bring down his high thoughts, when he spoke so exceeding proudly. But now on hearing what he had to say he was mightily pleased, and conceived a favour towards him, and saying: “Now I forgive you and will allow you to watch over your father and mother,” and making known his virtues he said:
62. “Nanda, you know the true faith well, as saints have taught it thee,
’Tis only noble to be good – you greatly pleasest me.
63. My worthy parents I salute: listen to what I say,
The charge of you as burden was ne’er felt in any way.
64. My parents I have tended long, their happiness to earn,
Now Nanda comes and humbly begs to serve you in his turn.
65. Whiche’er of you two saintly ones would Nanda’s service own,
Speak but the word and he shall come to wait on you alone.”
Then his mother, rising from her seat, said: “Dear Sona, your young brother has been long absent from his home. Now that he has at length returned, I do not venture to ask him myself, for we are altogether dependent upon you, but with your sanction I might now be allowed to take this holy youth to my arms and kiss him on the forehead,” and, to make her meaning clear, she spoke this verse:
66. “Sona, dear son, on whom we lean, if you allowest this,
Embracing him once more I will the holy Nanda kiss.”
Then the Great Being said to her, “Well, dear mother, I give you permission: go and embrace your son Nanda and smell and kiss his head, and soothe sorrow in your heart.” So she went to the sage Nanda and embracing him before all the assembly she smelled and kissed his head, putting an end to the sorrow in her heart, and conversing with the Great Being she spoke this verse:
67. “Just as the tender Bodhi tree shoot is shaken by the blast,
So throbs my heart with joy at sight of Nanda come at last.
68. Nanda, I think, as in a dream returned I seem to see,
Half mad and jubilant I cry, Nanda comes back to me.
69. But if on waking I should find my Nanda gone away,
To greater sorrow than before my soul would be a prey.
70. Back to his parents dear today Nanda at last has come,
Dear to my lord and me alike, with us he makes his home.
71. Though Nanda to his sire is dear, let him stay where he will,
– You to your father’s wants attend – Nanda shall mine fulfil.”
The Great Being assented to his mother’s words, saying: “So be it,” and he admonished his brother, saying: “Nanda, you have received the portion of the eldest son; verily a mother is a great benefactress. Be careful in watching over her,” and celebrating a mother’s virtues he spoke two verses:
72. “Kind, pitiful, our refuge she that fed us at her breast,
A mother is the way to heaven, and you she loveth best.
73. She nursed and fostered us with care; graced with good gifts is she,
A mother is the way to heaven, and best she loveth thee.”
Thus did the Great Being in two verses tell of a mother’s virtues, and when his mother had once more taken her seat, he said: “You, Nanda, have got a mother who has suffered things hard to be borne. Both of us have been painfully reared by our mother. Now, you are carefully to watch over her and not to give her sour berries to eat,” and to make it clear in the midst of the assembled people that deeds of great difficulty fell to a mother’s lot, he said:
74. “Craving a child in prayer she kneels each holy shrine before,
The changing seasons closely scans and studies astral lore.
75. Pregnant in course of time she feels her tender longings grow,
And soon the unconscious babe begins a loving friend to know.
76. Her treasure for a year or less she guards with utmost care,
Then brings it forth and from that day a mother’s name will bear.
77. With milky breast and lullaby she soothes the fretting child,
Wrapped in his comforter’s warm arms his woes are soon beguiled.
78. Watching o’er him, poor innocent, lest wind or heat annoy,
His fostering nurse she may be called, to cherish thus her boy.
79. What gear his sire and mother have she hoards for him, ‘May be,’
She thinks, ‘some day, my dearest child, it all may come to you’.
80. ‘Do this or that, my darling boy,’ the worried mother cries,
And when he’s grown to man’s estate, she still laments and sighs.
81. He goes in reckless mood to see a neighbour’s wife at night,
She fumes and frets, ‘Why will he not return while it is light’?
If one thus reared with anxious pains his mother should neglect,
Playing her false, what doom, I pray, but hell can he expect?
82. If one thus reared with anxious pains his father should neglect,
Playing him false, what doom, I pray, but hell can he expect?
83. Those that love wealth o’ermuch, ’tis said, their wealth will soon have lost,
One that neglects a mother soon will rue it to his cost.
84. Those that love wealth o’ermuch, ’tis said, their wealth will soon have lost,
One that neglects a father soon will rue it to his cost.
85. Joy, careless ease, laughter and sport, are the sure heritage
Of him that studiously shall tend a mother in old age.
86. Joy, careless ease, laughter and sport, are the sure heritage
Of him that studiously shall tend a father in old age.
87. Gifts, Childers gives the four Saṅgahavatthu, appertaining to kings, as: largesse, affability, beneficent rule, and impartiality. loving speech, kind offices, together with the grace
Of calm indifference of mind shown in due time and place –
88. These virtues to the world are as linch-pin to chariot wheel,
These lacking, still a mother’s name to children would appeal.
89. A mother like the sire should be with reverent honour crowned,
Sages approve the man in whom these virtues may be found.
90. Thus parents, worthy of all praise, a high position own,
By ancient sages Brahmā called – so great was their renown.
91. Kind parents from their children should receive all reverence due,
He that is wise will honour them with service good and true.
92. He should provide them food and drink, bedding and raiment meet,
Should bathe and anoint with oil and duly wash their feet.
93. For filial services like these sages his praises sound
Here in this world, and after death in heaven his joys abound.”
Thus, as though he should set Mount Sineru rolling, did the Great Being bring his lesson to an end. On hearing him all these kings with their hosts became believers. So then establishing them in the Five Precepts and exhorting them to be diligent in generosity and the like virtues, he dismissed them, and they all, after ruling their kingdoms righteously, at the end of their days went to swell the host of heaven. The sages, Sona and Nanda, as long as they lived, ministered to their parents and became destined to the Brahmā Realm.
The Teacher here ended his lesson and revealing the Truths identified the Jātaka. At the end of the Truths the monk who cherished his mother was established in the fruition of the First Path. “At that time the parents were members of the great king’s court, the sage Nanda was Ānanda, king Manoja was Sāriputta, the hundred and one kings were eighty chief elders and certain others, the twenty-four complete armies were Buddha’s disciples, but the sage Sona was I myself.”
last updated: November 2021