Ja 545 Vidhurapaṇḍitajātaka
The Story about (the Wise) Vidhura (Mahānipāta)
Alternative Title: Mahāvidhurajātaka (Cst Ja 546); Puṇṇakajātaka (Comm)
In the present the monks are talking about the Buddha’s power of argument and persuasion. The Buddha tells a story of a wise man of old whose wisdom was legendary, and the Nāgī who desired his heart. A Nāga, who is in love with the Nāgī, wins the wise man from the king. The wise man’s teaching though wins over the Nāga and eventually he is freed and allowed to return to his king.
The Bodhisatta = the wise Vidhura (Vidhurapaṇḍita),
the great king’s family = the wise man’s mother and father (paṇḍitassa mātāpitaro),
Rāhulamātā = the eldest wife (jeṭṭhabhariyā),
Rāhula = the eldest son (jeṭṭhaputta),
Ānanda = the king of the Kurus, Dhanañjaya (Dhanañcaya) (Dhanañjayakoravyarājā),
Anuruddha = (the King of the Devas) Sakka,
Moggallāna = the king of the Supaṇṇas (Supaṇṇarājā),
Sāriputta = the king of the Nāgas, Varuṇa (Varuṇanāgarājā),
Uppalavaṇṇā = (Nāga queen) Vimalā,
the Buddha’s disciples = the followers (parisā).
Present and Past Source: Ja 545 Vidhura,
Quoted: Ja 441 Catuposathika, JA 413 Dhūmakāri, JA 495 Dasabrāhmaṇa.
Keywords: Wisdom, Truth, Devas.
“You are pale and thin and weak.” The Teacher told this tale while dwelling in Jetavana, concerning the Perfection of Wisdom.
One day the monks raised a discussion in the Dhamma Hall, saying: “Venerable sirs, the Teacher has great and wide wisdom, he is ready and quick-witted, he is sharp and keen-witted and able to crush the arguments of his opponents, by the power of his wisdom he overthrows the subtle questions propounded by noble sages and reduces them to silence, and having established them in the three refuges and the moral precepts, causes them to enter on the path which leads to immortality.”
The Teacher came and asked what was the topic which the monks were debating as they sat together; and on hearing what it was he said: “It is not wonderful, monks, that the Tathāgata, having attained the Perfection of Wisdom, should overthrow the arguments of his opponents and convert nobles and others. For in the earlier ages, when he was still seeking for supreme knowledge, he was wise and able to crush the arguments of his opponents. Yea verily in the time of Vidhurakumāra, on the summit of the Black Mountain which is sixty leagues in height, by the force of my wisdom I converted the Yakkha general, Puṇṇaka, and reduced him to silence and made him give his own life as a gift,” and so saying he told a story of the past.
The Section about the Fourfold Fast
In the past in the Kuru kingdom in the city of Indapatta a king ruled named Dhanañjayakoravya. He had a minister named the wise Vidhura who gave his instructions concerning temporal and spiritual matters; and having a sweet tongue and great eloquence in discoursing on the Dhamma, he bewitched all the kings of Jambudīpa by his
Now there were four rich brahmin householders in Benares, friends, who, having seen the misery of desires, went into the Himālayas and embraced the ascetic life, and having entered upon the Super Knowledges and Attainments, continued to dwell a long time there, feeding on the forest roots and fruits, and then, as they went their rounds to procure salt and sour condiments, came to beg in the city Kālacampā in the kingdom of Aṅga.
There four householders who were friends, being pleased with their behaviour, having paid them respect and taken their begging vessels, waited upon then with choice food, each in his own house, and taking their promise arranged a home for them in their garden. So the four ascetics having taken their food in the houses of the four householders, went away to pass the day, one going to the heaven of the Thirty-Three, another to the world of the Nāgas, another to the world of the Supaṇṇas, and the fourth to the park Migācira belonging to the Koravya king.
Now he who spent his day in the world of the gods, after beholding Sakka’s glory, described it in full to his attendant, and so too did he who spent his day in the Nāga and Supaṇṇa world, and so too he who spent his day in the park of the Koravya king Dhanañjaya; each described in full the glory of that respective king.
So these four attendants desired these heavenly abodes, and having performed gifts and other works of merit, at the end of their lives, one was born as Sakka, another was born with a wife and child in the Nāga world, another was born as the Supaṇṇa king in the palace of the Simbali lake, and the fourth was conceived by the chief queen of king Dhanañjaya; while the four ascetics were reborn in the Brahmā Realm.
The Koravya prince grew up, and on his father’s death assumed his kingdom and ruled in righteousness, but he was famed for his skill in dice. He listened to the instruction of the wise Vidhura and gave alms and kept the moral law and observed the fast. One day when he had undertaken the fast, he went into the garden, determining to practise pious meditation,
Then these four, having risen from their places at evening time, as they stood on the bank of the royal lake, came together and looked at one another, and, being filled with their old kindly affection, they awakened their former friendship and sat down with a pleasant greeting. Sakka sat down on a royal seat, and the others seated themselves as befitted the dignity of each.
Then Sakka said to them, “We are all four kings, now what is the preeminent virtue of each?” Then Varuṇa the Nāga king replied, “My virtue is superior to that of you three,” and when they inquired why, he said: “This Supaṇṇa king is our enemy, whether before or after we are born, yet even when I see him, such a destructive enemy of our race, I never feel any anger; therefore my virtue is superior,” and he then uttered the first verse of the Catuposathajātaka [Ja 441]:
1. “The good man who feels no anger towards one who merits anger and who never lets anger arise within him, he who even when angered does not allow it to be seen, him they indeed call an ascetic.
These are my qualities; therefore my virtue is superior.”
The Supaṇṇa king, hearing this, said: “This Nāga is my chief food; but since, even though I see such food at hand, I endure my hunger and do not commit evil for the sake of food, my virtue is superior,” and he uttered this verse:
2. “He who bears hunger with a pinched belly, a self-restrained ascetic who eats and drinks by rule, and commits no evil for the sake of food, him they indeed call an ascetic.”
Then Sakka the King of the Devas said: “I left behind various kinds of heavenly glory, all immediate sources of happiness, and came to the world of mankind in order to maintain my virtue, therefore my virtue is superior,” and he uttered this verse:
3. “Having abandoned all sport and pleasure, he utters no false word in the world, he is averse to all outward pomp and carnal desire, such a man they indeed call an ascetic.”
Thus did Sakka describe his own virtue.
Then king Dhanañjaya said: “I today have abandoned my court and my harem with sixteen thousand dancing girls, and I practise an ascetic’s duties in a garden; therefore my virtue is superior,” and he added this verse:
4. “Those who with full knowledge abandon all that they call their own and all the workings of lust, he who is self-restrained, resolute, unselfish, and free from desire, him they indeed call an ascetic.”
Thus they each declared their own virtue as superior, and then they asked Dhanañjaya, “O king, is there any wise man in your court who could solve this doubt?” “Yes, O kings, I have the wise Vidhura, who fills a post of unequalled responsibility and declares civil and ecclesiastical law, he will solve our doubt, we will go to him.” They at once consented. So they all went out of the garden and proceeded to the hall for monastic assemblies, and, having ordered it to be adorned, they seated the Bodhisatta on a high seat, and, having offered him a friendly greeting, sat down on one side and said: “O wise sir! A doubt has risen in our minds, do you solve it for us:
5. We ask you the minister of lofty wisdom: a dispute has arisen in our utterances, do you consider Prof. Cowell takes kaṅkhaṁ in line 26 as a participle – the verb occurs on p. 22908; but the commentator takes it as a noun with asyndeton. So 26114. and solve our perplexities today, let us through you today escape from our doubt.”
The wise man, having heard their words, replied, “O kings, how shall I know what you said well or ill concerning your virtue, as you uttered the verses in your dispute?” and he added this verse:
6. “Those wise men who know the real state of things and who speak wisely at the proper time, how shall they, however wise, draw out the meaning of verses which have not been uttered to them?
7. How does the Nāga king speak, how Garuḷa, the son of Vinatā? Or what says the king of the Gandhabbas? Or how speaks the most noble king of the Kurus?”
Then they uttered this verse to him:
8. “The Nāga king preaches forbearance, Garuḷa the son of Vinatā gentleness, the king of the Gandhabbas abstinence from carnal lust, and the most noble king of the Kurus freedom from all hindrances.”
Then the Great Being, having heard their words, uttered this verse:
9. “All these sayings are well spoken, there is nothing here uttered amiss; and he in whom these are properly fitted
Thus the Great Being declared the virtue of each of them to be one and the same. Then the four, when they heard him, were well pleased, and uttered this verse in his praise:
10. “You are the best, you are incomparable, you are wise, a guardian and knower of the Dhamma: having grasped the problem by your wisdom, you cut the doubts in your skill as the ivory-workman the ivory with his saw.”
Thus all the four were pleased with his explanation of their question. Then Sakka rewarded him with a robe of heavenly silk, Garuḷa with a golden garland, Varuṇa the Nāga king with a jewel, and king Dhanañjaya with a thousand cows, etc.; then Dhanañjaya addressed him in this verse:
11. “I give you a thousand cows and a bull and an elephant, and these ten chariots drawn with thoroughbred horses, and sixteen excellent villages, being well pleased with your solution of the question.”
Then Sakka and the rest, having paid all honour to the Great Being, departed to their own abodes.
The Longing during Pregnancy
Now the queen of the Nāga king was the lady Vimalā; and when she saw that no jewelled ornament was on his neck, she asked him where it was. He replied, “I was pleased at hearing the moral discourse of the wise Vidhura the son of the brahmin Canda, and I presented the jewel to him, and not only I, but Sakka honoured him with a robe of heavenly silk, the Supaṇṇa king gave him a golden garland, and king Dhanañjaya a thousand oxen and many other things besides.” “He is, I suppose, eloquent in the Dhamma.” “Lady, what are you talking about? It is as if a Buddha had appeared in Jambudīpa! A hundred kings in all Jambudīpa, being caught in his sweet words, do not return to their own kingdoms, but remain like wild elephants fascinated by the sound of their favourite lute, this is the character of his eloquence!” When she heard the account of his preeminence she longed to hear him discourse on the Dhamma, and she thought in herself, “If I tell the king that I long to hear him discourse on the Dhamma, and ask him to bring him here, he will not bring him to me; what if I were to pretend to be ill and complained of a sick woman’s longing?” So she gave a sign to her attendants and took to her bed. When the king did not see her when he paid his visit to her, he asked the attendants where Vimalā was. They replied that she was sick, and when he went to see her he sat on the side of her bed and rubbed her body as he repeated a verse:
12. [Fausböll for some unknown reason restarts the numeration here. I have opted for sequential numbering.] “Pale and thin and weak, your colour and form was not like this before, O Vimalā, answer my question, what is this pain of the body which has come upon you?”
She told him in the following:
13. “There is an affection in women, it is called a longing, O king; O monarch of the Nāgas, I desire Vidhura’s heart brought here without guile.”
He replied to her:
14. “You long for the moon or the sun or the wind; the very sight of Vidhura is hard to get: who will be able to bring him here?”
When she heard his words, she exclaimed, “I shall die if I do not obtain it,” so she turned round in her bed and showed her back and covered her face with the end of her robe. The Nāga king went to his own chamber and sat on his bed and pondered how bent Vimalā was on obtaining Vidhura’s heart, “She will die if she does not obtain the flesh of his heart; how can I get it for her?”
Now his daughter Irandatī, a Nāga
15. “O father, why are you full of care, why is your face like a lotus plucked by the hand?
Hearing his daughter’s words, the Nāga king answered:
16. “Your mother, O Irandatī, desires Vidhura’s heart, the very sight of Vidhura is hard to get, who will be able to bring him here?”
Then he said to her:
17. “Daughter, there is no one in my court who can bring Vidhura here; do you give life to your mother, and seek out some husband who can bring Vidhura.”
So he dismissed her with a half-verse, suggesting improper thoughts to his daughter:
18. “Seek you for a husband, who shall bring Vidhura here.” And when she heard her father’s words, she went forth in the night and gave free course to her passionate desire.
As she went she gathered all the flowers in the Himālayas which had colour, scent, or taste, and, having adorned the entire mountain like a precious jewel, she spread a couch of flowers upon it, and, having executed a pleasant dance, she sang a sweet song:
19. “What Gandhabba or Rakkhasa, what Nāga, Kimpurisa or man, or what sage, able to grant all desires, will be my husband the livelong night?”
Now at that time the nephew of the great king Vessavaṇa, Kuvera. named Puṇṇaka, the Yakkha general, as he was riding on a magic Sindh horse, three leagues in length, and hastening over the red arsenic surface of the Black Mountain to a gathering of the Yakkhas, heard that song of hers, and the voice of the woman which he had heard in his last previous life pierced his skin and nerves and penetrated to his very bones; and, being fascinated by it, he turned back, seated as he was on his Sindh horse, and thus addressed her, comforting her, “O lady, I can bring you Vidhura’s heart by my knowledge, holiness, and calmness, do not be anxious about it,” and he added this verse:
20. “Be comforted, I will be your husband, I will be your husband, O you of faultless eyes: verily my knowledge is such, be comforted, you shall be my wife.”
21. Then Irandatī answered, with her thoughts following the old experience of a wooing in a former birth,
22. Adorned, clad in bright raiment, wearing garlands, and anointed with sandal, she seized the Yakkha by the hand and went into her father’s presence.
And Puṇṇaka, having taken her back, went to her father the Nāga king and asked for her as his wife:
23. “O Nāga chief, hear my words, receive a fitting present for your daughter; I ask for Irandatī: give her to me as my possession.
24. A hundred elephants, a hundred horses, a hundred mules and chariots, a hundred complete wagons Vaḷabhi may mean a tent or shed. filled with all sorts of gems, take you all these, O Nāga king, and give me your daughter Irandatī.”
Then the Nāga king replied:
25. “Wait while I consult my kinsmen, my friends, and acquaintances; a business done without consultation leads afterwards to regret.”
26. Then the Nāga king, having entered his palace, spoke these words as he consulted his wife,
27. “This Puṇṇaka the Yakkha asks me for Irandatī; shall we give her to him in exchange for much wealth?”
28. “Our Irandatī is not to be won by wealth or treasure; if he obtains by his own worth and brings here the sage’s heart, the princess shall be won by that wealth, we ask no further treasure.”
29. Then the Nāga Varuṇa went out from his palace, and, consulting with Puṇṇaka, thus addressed him:
30. “Our Irandatī is not to be won by wealth or treasure; if you obtained by your own worth and bring here the sage’s heart, the princess shall be won by that wealth, we ask no further treasure.”
31. “Him whom some people call a sage, others will call a fool; tell me, for they utter different opinions about the matter, who is he whom you callest a sage, O Nāga?”
The Nāga king answered:
32. “If you have heard of Vidhura the minister of the Koravya king Dhanañjaya, bring that sage here, and let Irandatī be your lawful wife.”
33. Hearing these words of Varuṇa, the Yakkha sprang up greatly pleased; just as he was, he said at once to his attendant, “Bring me here my thoroughbred ready harnessed.”
34. With ears of gold and hoofs of ruby, and mail-armour of molten gold.
The man brought the Sindh horse thus caparisoned; and Puṇṇaka, having mounted him, went through the sky to Vessavaṇa and told him of the adventure, thus describing the Nāga world; this is described as follows:
35. “Puṇṇaka, having mounted his horse, a charger fit for bearing the gods, himself richly adorned and with his beard and hair trimmed, went through the sky.
36. Puṇṇaka, greedy with the passion of desire, longing to win the Nāga maiden Irandatī,
37. “There is the palace Bhogavatī called the Golden Home, the capital of the snake kingdom erected in its golden city.
38. Watch-towers which mimic lips and necks, with rubies and cat’s eye jewels, palaces built of marble and rich with gold, and covered with jewels inlaid with gold.
39. Mangoes, tilaka trees and Jambu plums, sattapaṇṇas, mucalindas and ketakas, piyakas, uddālakas and sahas, and sinduvāritas with their wealth of blossom above,
40. Champacs, Nāgamālikās, bhaginīmālās, and jujube trees, all these different trees bending with their boughs, lend their beauty to the Nāga palace.
41. There is a huge date palm made of precious stones with golden blossoms that fade not, and there dwells the Nāga king Varuṇa, endowed with magical powers and born of supernatural birth.
42. There dwells his queen Vimalā with a body like a golden creeper, tall like a young kālā plant, fair to see with her breasts like nimba fruits.
43. Fair-skinned and painted with lac dye, like a kaṇikāra tree blossoming in a sheltered spot, like an Accharā dwelling in the Deva world, like lightning flashing from a thick cloud.
44. Bewildered and full of a strange longing, she desires Vidhura’s heart. I will give it to them, O king, and they will give me Irandatī.”
As he dared not go without Vessavaṇa’s permission, he repeated these verses to inform him about it. But Vessavaṇa did not listen to him, as he was busy settling some dispute about a palace between two Devaputtas. Puṇṇaka, knowing that his words were not listened to,
The Teacher thus described what took place:
45. “Puṇṇaka, having bidden farewell to Vessavaṇa the glorious lord of beings, thus gave his command to his servant standing there, ‘Bring hither my thoroughbred harnessed.’
46. With ears of gold, hoofs of ruby, and mail-armour of molten gold.
47. Puṇṇaka, having mounted the god-bearing steed, well-adorned and with his beard and hair well-trimmed, went through space in the sky.”
As he went through the air he pondered, “The wise Vidhura has a great retinue and he cannot be taken by force, but Dhanañjaya Koravya is renowned for his skill in gambling. I will conquer him in play and so seize the wise Vidhura. Now there are many jewels in his house: he will not play for any poor sum; I shall have to bring a jewel of great value, the king will not accept a common jewel. Now there is a precious jewel of price belonging to the Universal Monarch, in the Vepulla Mountain near the city Rājagaha; I will take that and entice the king to play and so conquer him.” He did so.
The Teacher declared the whole story:
48. “He went to pleasant Rājagaha, the far-off city of Aṅga, rich in provisions and abounding with food and drink. Like Masakkasāra, Sakka’s capital.
49. Filled with the notes of peacocks and herons, resonant, full of beautiful courts, and with every kind of bird like the mountain Himavat covered with flowers.
50. So Puṇṇaka climbed Mount Vepulla, with its heaps of rocks inhabited by Kimpurisas, seeking for the glorious jewel, and at last he saw it in the middle of the mountain.
51-52. When he saw the glorious precious gem thus flashing light, gleaming so splendidly with its beauty, shining like lightning in the sky, he at once seized the precious lapis lazuli, the jewel of priceless value, and mounted on his peerless steed, himself of noble beauty, he rushed through space in the sky.
53. He went to the city Indapatta, and he alighted in the court of the Kurus;
54. ‘Who wishes to conquer from us the prize of kings? Or whom shall we conquer in the contest of worth? What peerless jewel shall we win? Or who shall win our best of treasures?’ ”
Thus in four lines he praised Koravya. Then the king thought to himself, “I have never before seen a hero like this who uttered such words; who can it be?” and he asked him in this verse:
55. “In what kingdom is your birthplace? These are not the words of a Koravya: you surpass us all in your form and appearance; tell me your name and kindred.”
The other reflected: “This king asks my name: now it is the servant Puṇṇaka; but if I tell him that I am Puṇṇaka, he will say, ‘He is a servant, why does he speak to me so audaciously?’ and he will despise me; I will tell him my name in my last past birth.” So he uttered a verse:
56. “I am a youth named Kaccāyana, O king; they call me one of no mean name;
Then the king asked him, “What will you give if you are conquered in play? what have you got?” and he uttered this verse:
57. “What jewels has the youth, which the gamester who conquers him may win? A king has many jewels, how can you, a poor man, challenge them?”
Then Puṇṇaka answered:
58. “This is a fascinating jewel of mine, it is a glorious jewel which brings wealth; and the gamester who conquers me shall win this peerless steed which plagues all enemies.”
When the king heard him, he replied
59. “What will one jewel do, O youth? And what will one thoroughbred avail? Many precious jewels belong to a king, and many peerless steeds swift like the wind.
When he heard
60-61. “O greatest of men, behold this peerless jewel of mine; in it are the bodies of women and the bodies of men; the bodies of beasts are in it and the bodies of birds, the Nāga kings and Supaṇṇas, all are created in this jewel.
62-63. An elephant host, a chariot host, horses, foot-soldiers, and banners, behold this complete army created in the jewel; elephant-riders, the king’s body-guard, warriors fighting from chariots, warriors fighting on foot, and troops in battle array, behold all created in this jewel.
64. Behold created in this jewel a city furnished with solid foundations and with many gateways and walls, and with many pleasant spots where four roads meet.
65. Pillars and trenches, bars and bolts, watch-towers and gates, behold all created in the jewel.
66-67. See various troops cf. Ja 535 Sudhābhojanajātaka, v. 74. of birds in the roads under the gateways, geese, herons, peacocks, ruddy geese and ospreys; cuckoos, spotted birds, peacocks, jīvajīvakas, birds of every sort behold gathered together and created in the jewel.
68-69. See a marvellous city with grand walls, making the hair stand erect with wonder, pleasant with banners upraised, and with its sands all of gold, see the hermitages divided regularly in blocks, and the different houses and their yards, with streets and blind lanes between.
70. Behold the drinking shops and taverns, the slaughter-houses and cooks’ shops, and the harlots and wantons, created in the jewel.
71. The garland-weavers, the washermen, the astrologers, the cloth merchants, the gold workers, the jewellers – behold created in the jewel.
73. See drums and tabours, conchs, tambours and tambourines and all kinds of cymbals, created in the jewel.
74. Cymbals, and lutes, dance and song well executed, musical instruments and gongs, behold created in the jewel.
75. Jumpers and wrestlers too are here, and a sight of jugglers, and royal bards and barbers, behold created in the jewel.
76. Crowds are gathered here of men and women, see the seats tiers beyond tiers created in the jewel.
77. See the wrestlers in the crowd striking their doubled arms, see the strikers and the stricken, created in the jewel.
78-80. See on the slopes of the mountains troops of various deer, lions, tigers, boars, bears, wolves, and hyenas; rhinoceroses, gayals, buffaloes, red deer, rurus, antelopes, wild boars, niṅkas and hogs, spotted kadalī-deer, cats, rabbits, all kinds of hosts of beasts, created in the jewel.
81-82. Rivers well-situated, paved with golden sand, clear with flowing waters and filled with quantities of fishes; crocodiles, sea-monsters are here and porpoises and tortoises, pāṭhīnas, pāvusas, vālajas, and muñjarohitas.
83. Behold created in the jewel all kinds of trees, filled with various birds, and a forest with its branches made of lapis lazuli.
84. See too lakes well-distributed in the four quarters, filled with quantities of birds and abounding with fish with broad scales.
85. See the earth surrounded by the sea, abounding with water everywhere, and diversified with trees, all created in the jewel.
86. See the Videhas in front, the Goyāniyas behind, the Kurus and Jambudīpa all created in the jewel.
87. See the sun and the moon, shining on the four sides, as they go round Mount Sineru, created in the jewel.
88. See Sineru and Himavat and the miraculous sea and the four guardians of the world, created in the jewel.
89. See parks and forests, crags and mountains, pleasant to look at and full of Kimpurisas, all created in the jewel.
90. Sakka’s gardens Phārusaka, Cittalatā, Missaka, and Nandana, and his palace Vejayanta, behold all created in the jewel.
91. Sakka’s palace Sudhamma, the heaven of the Thirty-Three, the heavenly tree Pāricchatta in full flower, and Sakka’s elephant Erāvaṇa, behold created in the jewel.
92. See here the Devakaññās risen like lightning in the air, wandering about in the Nandana, all created in the jewel.
93. See the Devakaññās bewitching the Devaputtas, and the Devaputtas wandering about, all created in the jewel,
94. Behold more than a thousand palaces covered with lapis lazuli, all created with brilliant colours in the jewel.
95. And the beings of the Tāvatiṁsa heaven and the Yāma heaven and the Tusita heaven, and those of the Paranimmita heaven all created in the jewel.
96. See here pure lakes with transparent water covered with heavenly coral trees and lotuses and water-lilies.
97. In this jewel are ten white lines and ten beautiful lines dark blue; twenty-one brown, and fourteen yellow.
98. Twenty golden lines, twenty silver, and thirty appear of a red colour.
99. Sixteen are black, twenty-five are of the colour of madder, these are mixed with bandhuka flowers and variegated with blue lotuses.
100. O king, best of men, look at this bright flame-like jewel, perfect in all its parts, this is the destined prize odhisuṅkaṁ? for him who wins.”
Questions about the Household Life
101. “O king, proceed to the appointed goal, you have not such a jewel: let us conquer by fair dealing, and by the absence of violence, and when you are conquered pay down your stake.”
Then the king replied, “O youth, do not be afraid of me as the king, our several victory or defeat shall be by fair dealing and by the absence of violence.” Then Puṇṇaka uttered a verse as calling the other kings to witness that the victory was to be gained by fair dealing only:
102. “O lofty Pañcāla and Surasena, O Macchas, and Maddas, with the Kekakas, let them all see that the contest is without treachery, no one is to interfere in our assembly.”
Then the king attended by a hundred kings took Puṇṇaka and went into the gaming hall, and they all sat down on suitable seats, and placed the golden dice on the silver board. Then Puṇṇaka said quickly, “O king, there are twenty-four throws in playing with dice, they are called mālika, sāvaṭa, bahula, santi, bhadra, These terms are obscure. cf. the scene of Darduraka in “The Toycart,” Act II., and the Comm. on the Chāndogya-upaniṣad, IV.1. 4. and so on; choose you whichever pleases you.” The king assented and chose the bahula, Puṇṇaka chose that called sāvaṭa. Then the king said: “O youth, do you play the dice first.” “O king, the first throw does not fall to me, do you play.” The king consented.
Now his mother in his last existence but one before this was his guardian deity and by her power the king wins in play. She was standing close by, and the king remembering the goddess sang the song of play B d here adds six corrupt verses. and turned the dice in his hand and threw them up into the air. By Puṇṇaka’s power the dice fell so as to conquer the king. The king by his skill in play recognised that the dice were falling against him
Then Puṇṇaka thought to himself, “This king, though he is playing with a Yakkha like me, mixes the dice as they fall and so takes them up, what can be the reason of this?” Then, having recognised the power of the guardian Devatā, he opened his eyes wide as if he were angry and looked at her and she being frightened fled and took refuge trembling in the top of the Cakkavāla mountain. The king, when he threw the dice a third time, although he knew that they would fall against him could not put out his hand and seize them in consequence of Puṇṇaka’s power and they fell against the king. Then Puṇṇaka threw the dice and they fell favourable to him. Then knowing that he had won he clapped his hands with a loud noise, saying three times, “I have won,
The Teacher described the event as follows:
103. “The king of the Kurus and the Yakkha Puṇṇaka entered wild with the intoxication of play; the king played the losing throw and the Yakkha Puṇṇaka the winning throw.
104. They two met there in contest in the presence of the kings and amidst the witnesses, the Yakkha conquered the mightiest of men and loud was the tumult which arose there.”
The king was displeased at being conquered, and Puṇṇaka repeated a verse to comfort him:
105. “Victory and defeat belong to one or another of the contending parties, O king; O king, you have lost the great prize; being worsted, pay down the price forthwith.”
Then he bade him take it in the following verse:
106. “Elephants, oxen, horses, jewels and earrings, whatever gems I have in the earth, take the best of wealth, O Kaccāna, take it and go where you wish.”
107. “Elephants, oxen, horses, jewels and earrings, whatever gems you have in the earth, Vidhura the minister is the best of them all, he has been won by me, pay him down to me.”
The king said:
108. “He is my minister, my refuge and help, my shelter, my fortress and my defence, that minister of mine is not to be weighed against wealth, that minister of mine is like my life.”
109. “There would be a long contest between you and me, let us go to him and ask him what he wishes,
The king replied:
110. “Verily you speak truth, O youth, you utter no injustice, let us go at once and ask him: in this way we shall both be satisfied.”
So saying the king took the hundred kings and Puṇṇaka went gladly in haste to the court of justice; and the sage rose from his seat and saluted the king and sat on one side. Then Puṇṇaka addressed the Great Being and said: “O wise man, you are firm in justice, you will not utter a falsehood, even for the sake of life; such is the echo of your fame which has spread through the whole world. I shall know today whether you are really firm in justice,” and so saying he uttered a verse:
111. “Have the gods truly set you among the Kurus as the councillor Vidhura firm in justice? Are you the slave or the kinsman of the king? What is your value in the world, Vidhura?”
Then the Great Being thought to himself, “This man asks this question of me; but I cannot tell him whether I am a kinsman of the king or whether I am superior to the king or whether I am nothing to the king.
112. “Some are slaves from their mothers, others are slaves bought for money, some come of their own will as slaves, others are slaves driven by fear. These are the four sorts of slaves among men.
113. I verily am a slave from my birth: my weal and my woe come from the king, I am the king’s slave even if I go to another, he may give me by right to you, O young man.”
Puṇṇaka, on hearing this, being excessively pleased, clapped his hands and said:
114. “This is my second victory today, your minister when asked has answered your question; verily the best of kings is unjust; it has been well decided, but you do not give it to me.”
Hearing this the king was angry with the Great Being and said: “Not regarding one who can confer honour like me you regard this young man who catches your eye,” then turning to Puṇṇaka, and saying: “If he is a slave take him and go,” he uttered the following verse:
115. “If he has thus answered our question, saying, ‘I am a slave and not a kinsman,’ then take, O Kaccāna, this best of treasures, take it and go whither you will.”
But when the king had thus spoken, he reflected: “The young man will take the sage and go where he pleases, and after he is once gone I shall find it hard to get any sweet converse about holy things; what if I were to set him in his proper place and ask him some question in reference to a householder’s life?” So he said to him, “O sage, after you are gone I shall find it hard to get any sweet converse about holy things; will you sit down in a well-decorated Dhamma seat and taking your proper position expound to me a question relating to the householder’s life?” He assented, and having sat down in a well-decorated pulpit he expounded the question which the king asked; and this was the question:
116. “O Vidhura, how shall there be a prosperous life to him who lives as a householder in his own house? How shall there be for him kind favour among his own people?
117. How shall he be free from suffering? And how shall the young man who speaks truth escape all sorrow when he reaches the next world?”
118. Then Vidhura, full of wisdom and insight, he who sees the real aim and presses steadily onward, he who knows all doctrines, uttered these words:
119. “Let him not have a wife in common with another; let him not eat a dainty meal alone; let him not deal in vain conversation, for this increases not wisdom.
120. Virtuous, faithful to his duties, not careless, quick to discern, humble-minded, not hard-hearted, compassionate, affectionate, gentle.
121. Skilled in winning friends, ready to distribute, prudent in arranging in accordance with the season, let him continually satisfy the monks and brahmins with food and drink.
122. Let him long for righteousness and be a pillar of the sacred text, ever ready to ask questions and let him reverentially attend to the virtuous and learned.
123. Thus shall there be a prosperous life for one who lives as a householder in his own house, thus shall there be for him kind favour among his own people.
124. Thus shall he be free from suffering; and thus the youth who speaks truth shall escape all sorrow when he reaches the next world.”
The Great Being, having thus expounded the question relating to the householder’s life, came down from his seat and made his salutation to the king. The king also, having paid him great respect, went away to his own abode, surrounded by the hundred kings.
When the Great Being returned, Puṇṇaka said to him:
125. “Come, I will now depart, you were given to me by the king; attend only to this duty – this is the ancient law.”
The sage Vidhura replied:
126. “I know it, O youth; I was won by you; I was given by the king to you; let me lodge you for three days in my home while I exhort my sons.”
When Puṇṇaka heard this, he thought within himself, “The sage has spoken the truth; this will be a great benefit to me; if he had asked leave to lodge me there for seven days or even for a fortnight, I ought at once to have assented,” so he answered:
127. “Let that advantage be for me too, let us dwell there three days; do, sir, whatever needs to be done in your home; instruct today your sons and your wife, that they may be happy after you are gone.”
So saying, Puṇṇaka went with the Great Being to his home.
The Teacher thus described the incident:
128. “Gladly assenting and eagerly longing, the Yakkha went with Vidhura; and the best of the holy ones introduced him into his home, attended by elephants and thoroughbred steeds.”
Now the Great Being had three palaces for the three seasons, one of them was called Koñca [Heron], another Mayūra [Peacock], and the third Piyaketa; [One might have expected this to be another bird name here, but none that match are recorded.] this verse was uttered about them:
129. “He went there to Koñca, Mayūra, and Piyaketa, each of most pleasant aspect, furnished with abundance of food and plenty to eat and to drink, like Sakka’s own palace Masakkasāra.”
After his arrival, he had a sleeping-chamber, and a raised platform in the seventh story of the decorated palace, and having had a royal couch spread and every kind of dainty to eat and drink set out, he presented to him five hundred women like Devakaññās, saying: “Let these be your attendants, stay here without a care,” and then went to his own abode. When he was gone, these women took their different musical instruments end performed all kinds of dances as they attended on Puṇṇaka.
The Teacher has thus described it:
130. “These women adorned like Accharā among the Devas dance and sing and address him, each better in her turn. varāvaraṁ?
131. The guardian of the Dhamma, having given him food and drink and fair women,
132. Then he said to his wife, who was adorned with sandal and liquid perfumes and stood like an ornament of purest gold, ‘Come, listen, lady; call your sons here, O fair one with eyes of the hue of copper.’
133. Anujjā, hearing her husband’s words, spoke to her daughter-in-law, fair-eyed and with nails like copper, ‘O Cetā, who wearest your bracelets as an armour, and are like a blue water-lily, go, call my sons hither.’ ”
Having uttered her assent and traversed the whole length of the palace she assembled all the friends as well as the sons and daughters, saying: “Your father wishes to give you an exhortation, this will be your last sight of him.” When the young prince Dhammapāla heard this he began to weep, and went before his father surrounded by his younger brothers. When the father saw them, unable to maintain his tranquillity, he embraced them with eyes full of tears, and kissed their heads and pressed his eldest son for a moment to his heart. Then, raising him up from his bosom and going out of the royal chamber, he sat down in the middle of the couch on the raised platform and delivered his address to his thousand sons.
The Teacher has thus described it:
134. “The guardian of the Dhamma, without trembling, kissed his sons on their foreheads when they drew near, and having addressed them uttered these words, ‘I have been given by the king to this young man.
135. I am subject to him, but today I was free to seek my own pleasure, he will now take me and go whither he will, and I am come to admonish you, for how could I go if I had not given you safe haven?
136. If Janasandha, the king who dwells in Kurukhetta, should very earnestly ask you, “What do you reckon as having been ancient even in ancient time? What, did your father teach first and foremost?” and if he were then to say,
137. “You are all of an equal position with me, which of you here is not more than a king?” I read the line as ko na idha rañño abbhadhiko; the commentator explains it as ko nu. Do you make a respectful salutation and reply to him, “Say not so, O monarch, this is not the Dhamma; how shall the baseborn jackal be of equal position with the royal tiger?” ’ ”
Having heard this discourse of his the sons and daughters and all the kinsmen, friends, servants, and common folk were unable to maintain their tranquillity and uttered a loud cry; and the Great Being consoled them.
The King’s Court
Then having come to all those kinsmen and seeing that they were silent, he said: “Children, do not grieve, all material things are impermanent, honour ends in misfortune; nevertheless I will tell you of a means of obtaining honour, namely, a king’s court; listen to it with your minds earnestly intent.” Then through the Buddha’s magic power he made them enter into a royal court.
The Teacher thus described it:
138. “Then Vidhura thus addressed his friends and his enemies, his kindred, and his intimates, with his mind and will detached from all things,
139. ‘Come, dear ones, sit down and listen to me as I tell of a royal dwelling, how a man who enters a king’s court may attain to honour.
140. When he enters a king’s court he does not win honour while he is unknown, nor does one ever win it who is a coward, nor the foolish man, nor the thoughtless.
141. When the king finds out his moral qualities, his wisdom and his purity of heart, then he learns to trust him and hides not his secrets from him.
142-143. When he is asked to carry out some business, like a well-fixed balance, with a level beam, and evenly poised, he must not hesitate; if like the balance, he is ready to undertake every burden, he may dwell in a king’s court.
144. Whether by day or by night, the wiser man should not hesitate when set upon the king’s business; such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
145. The wise man who, when set upon the king’s business, whether by day or by night, undertakes every commission, he is the one who may dwell in a king’s court.
146. He who sees a path made for the king and carefully put in order for him, and refrains from entering himself therein, though advised to do so, he is the one who may dwell in a king’s court.
147. Let him on no account ever enjoy the same pleasures as the king, let him follow behind in everything, such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
148. Let him not put on a garment like the king’s nor garlands nor ointment like his; let him not wear similar ornaments or practise a tone of voice like his; let him always wear a different attire, such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
149. If the king sports with his ministers or surrounded by his wives, let not the minister make any allusion to the royal ladies.
150. He who is not lifted up, nor fickle, who is prudent and keeps his senses under control, he who is possessed of insight and resolution, such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
151. Let him not sport with the king’s wives nor talk with them privately; let him not take money from his treasury, such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
152. Let him not think too much of sleep, nor drink strong drink to excess, nor kill the deer in the king’s forest, such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
153. Let him not seat himself on the king’s chair or couch or seat or elephant or chariot; as thinking himself a privileged person, such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
154. Let him prudently keep not too far from the king nor yet too near to him, and let him stand ready before him, telling something for his lord to hear.
155. The king does not count as a common person, the king must not be paired with anyone else; kings are easily vexed, as the eye is hurt if touched by a barley-awn.
156. Let not the wise man, thinking himself to be held in honour, ever venture to speak roughly to the suspicious king.
157. If he gets his opportunity, let him take it; but let him not trust in kings; let him be on his guard as in the case of fire, [This seems to mean: when there is a fire let him take a stand (i.e not run away from danger).] such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
158. If the ruler favours his son or his brother with a gift of some villages or towns or some people in his kingdom as clients, let him quietly wait in silence, nor speak of him as prudent or faulty.
159. If the king increases the pay of his elephant-driver or his life-guardsman, his chariot-soldier or his foot-soldier, through hearing some story of their exploits, let him not interfere to hinder it, such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
160. The wise man will keep his belly small like the bow, The bow must not be kept bent into too great a curve. but he will bend easily like the bamboo; let him not go contrary to the king, Or “let him not go contrary to other people.” so he may dwell in a king’s court.
161. Let him keep his belly small like the bow, and let him have no tongue like the fish; let him be moderate in eating, brave and prudent; such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
162. Let him not visit a woman too often, fearing the loss of his strength; the foolish man is a victim to cough, asthma, bodily pain and childishness.
163. Let him not laugh too much, nor keep always silent; he should utter, when the due season comes, a concise and measured speech.
164. Not given to anger, not ready to take offence, truthful, gentle, no slanderer, let him not speak foolish words, such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
165. Trained, educated, self-controlled, experienced in business, katatto = kataṭṭo (kṛtārtha?). temperate, gentle, careful, pure, skilful, such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
166. Humble in behaviour towards the old, ready to obey, and full of respect, compassionate, and pleasant to live with, such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
167. Let him keep at a distance from a spy sent by a foreign king to meddle; So the commentator seems to explain it. let him look to his own lord alone, and own no other king.
168-169. Let him pay respect to monks and brahmins who are virtuous and learned; let him carefully wait on them; such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
170. Let him satisfy virtuous and learned monks and brahmins with food and drink, such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
171. Let him draw near and devotedly attend on virtuous and learned monks and brahmins, desiring thereby his own real good.
172. Let him not seek to deprive monks or brahmins of any gift previously bestowed on them, and let him in no way hinder mendicants at a time of distributing alms.
173. One who is righteous, endowed with wisdom, and skilled in all business arrangements, and well-versed in times and seasons, such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
174. One who is energetic in business, careful and skilful, and able to conduct his affairs successfully, such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
175. Visiting repeatedly the threshing-floor, the house, the cattle and the field, he should have the corn carefully measured and stored in his granaries, and he should have it carefully measured for cooking in his home.
176. (Let him not employ or promote) Some line to this effect seems to have dropped from the text. a son or a brother who is not steadfast in virtue; such children are no true members of one’s own body, they are to be counted as if they were dead; let him cause clothing and food for sustenance to be given to them and let them sit while they take it.
177. Let him employ in offices of authority servants and agents who are established in virtue and are skilful in business and can rise to an emergency.
178. One who is virtuous and free from greed and devoted to his king, never absent from him I would read aviraho. and seeking his interest, such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
179. Let him know the king’s wish, and hold fast to his thoughts, and let his action be never contrary to him, such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
180. He will rub him with perfumes and bathe him, he will bend his head low when washing his feet; when smitten he will not be angry; such a one may dwell in a king’s court.
181. He will make his salutation to a jar full of water, or offer his reverential greeting to a crow, yes, he will give to all petitioners and be ever prudent and preeminent.
182. He will give away his bed, his garment, his carriage, his house, his home, and shower down blessings like a cloud on all beings.
183. This, sirs, is the way to dwell in a king’s court, this is how a man is to behave himself and so to conciliate the king’s favour, and to obtain honour from his rulers.’ ”
The Inner Repetition
Three days went by as he thus discoursed to his sons, wives, friends and others. Then, knowing that the time was accomplished, early in the morning, after having eaten his meal of various dainties, he said: “I will take my leave of the king and depart with the young man,” so he went to the king’s palace surrounded by a company of kinsmen and saluted the king and stood on one side, and uttered his words of wise practical counsel.
The Teacher has thus described it:
184. “Having thus counselled the company of his kindred, the wise one, surrounded by his friends, went up to the king.
185. Having saluted his feet with his head and made a reverential homage, Vidhura with his hands clasped thus addressed the king,
186. ‘This youth, wishing to employ me according to his will, is leading me away; I will speak for the sake of my kindred, hear what I say, O enemy-conqueror.
187. Will you be pleased to look to my sons and whatever property I may have besides in my house, so that when I am gone my company of kinsmen may not hereafter perish?
188. As when the earth trembles that which is upon it likewise trembles, and as when the earth is firm it all remains firm, [This seems to mean: As when those of earth stumble, the earth remains firm, so when I have stumbled (let my relatives remain firm).] so I see that my kindred fall in my fall; this I perceive was my error.’ ”
When the king heard this, he said: “O sage, your going pleases me not; do not go; I will send for the young man on some pretext, then we will kill him and hush it up,” and in illustration of this he repeated a verse:
189. “You can not go, this is my resolve; having smitten and slain this Kātiya [Katiyāna is another form of Kaccāna.]. fellow, do you dwell here, this is what seems best to me; do not go hence, O you possessed of such vast wisdom.”
When the Great Being heard this he exclaimed, “Such an intention is not worthy of you,” and then he added,
190. “Do not set your mind on unrighteousness, be you devoted to temporal and spiritual good; Or “the sacred text and its inner meaning.” shame on an action which is ignoble and sinful, which when a man has done, he goes afterwards to hell.
191. This is not righteousness, this is not what ought to be done; a king, O lord of men, is the supreme authority of a poor slave, which sets him to kill or to burn or kills by its own act; I have no wrath against him and I depart.”
So saying the Great Being respectfully saluted the king and exhorted the king’s wives and his officers; and then went out from the palace while they, unable to retain their fortitude, burst out into a bitter cry; and all the inhabitants of the city exclaimed, “The sage is going with the young man, come, we will see him as he goes,” and they gazed upon him in the king’s court. Then they too said to one another, “Sorrow not for it, all material things are transitory, be zealous in generosity and other good works,” and then they returned and went each to his own house.
The Teacher has thus described it:
192. “Having embraced his eldest son and controlled the anguish in his heart, with eyes filled with tears he entered the palace.”
Now in the palace there were a thousand sons, a thousand daughters, a thousand wives, and seven hundred courtesans, and with these and the other servants and attendants and relations and friends lying prostrate everywhere the palace appeared like a Sāl grove with its trees strewed about by the fury of the great wind which heralds the end of the world.
The Teacher has thus described it:
193. “The sons and wives of Vidhura lie prostrate in the palace like Sāl trees shaken and shattered by the wind.
194. A thousand wives, and seven hundred female slaves wailed stretching out their arms, in the palace of Vidhura.
195. The ladies of the harem and the princes, the Vesiyas and brahmins wailed stretching out their arms in the palace of Vidhura.
196. Elephant-drivers, the soldiers of the body-guard, charioteers and foot-soldiers wailed stretching out their arms in the palace of Vidhura.
197. The people of the country and the towns collected together wailed stretching out their arms in the palace of Vidhura.” [Although it goes unnoticed by the translator, he here omits four verses.]
The Great Being, having comforted the vast assembly and performed all that remained to be done and exhorted the ladies of the harem and pointed out all that needed to be told, went to Puṇṇaka and announced to him that he had done everything that was to be done.
The Teacher has thus described it:
202. “Having done all that was to be done within the house and having instructed all the people, his friends and counsellors and companions, his wives, sons and relations.
203. Having arranged the outside work which demanded attention and informed them of the stores in the house, the treasure and the debts that were to be paid, he thus spoke to Puṇṇaka:
204. ‘You have dwelt three days in my house, I have done all that needed to be done in my home, I have instructed my sons and my wives, let us now act according to your will, O Kaccāna.’ ”
205. “If, O you who attest of your own will, Is katte a vocative for katta? you have instructed your sons, your wives, and your dependents, then, alas, you stand here as one about to cross: this is a long journey before you.
206. Take hold, without fear, of the tail of your noble steed, this is your last sight of the world of the living.”
Then the Great Being said to him:
207. “Of whom shall I be afraid, when I have done no evil to him by body, speech or thought, whereby I could come to misfortune?”
So the Great Being, uttering a loud shout, fearless like an undismayed lion, said: “This is my robe – put it not off without my permission,” and then, guided by his own perfect resolution, and having girt his robes tightly, he disentangled the horse’s tail and seizing it firmly with both hands, he pressed the horse’s thighs with his two feet and said to him,
The Teacher has thus described it:
208. “The prince of horses bearing Vidhura went up into the sky and soon reached the Black Mountain Is this Kāḷagiri the same as the Kāḷapabbata, a peak of the Himālayas? without coming into contact with the boughs of trees or the rocks.”
While Puṇṇaka thus went off carrying the Great Being with him, the seer’s sons and the other spectators went to Puṇṇaka’s dwelling; but when they found not the Great Being, they lamented with loud and repeated cries, falling down as if their feet had been cut off. Here a verse paraphrase of the above has been omitted [vs. 209-216].
When they thus had seen and heard the Great Being, as he went up without any cause into the sky, and had thus uttered their lamentations, they all went wailing to the king’s gate, accompanied by all the citizens. The king, hearing the loud sound of lamentation, opened his window and asked why they lamented. They replied, “O sire, that was no brahmin youth, but a Yakkha who has come in the guise of a brahmin and carried off the seer;
When the king heard their words, he replied, “The sage with his honied speech will soon beguile the youth by his Dhamma discourse and will make him fall down at his feet, and will before long come back and bring smiles to your tearful faces, sorrow not,” and he repeated a verse:
218. “The seer is wise, and learned, and skilful; he will soon set himself free; fear not, he will come back.”
The Duties of a Good Man
Meantime Puṇṇaka, after he had set the Great Being on the top of the Black Mountain, thought to himself, “As long as this man lives there is no chance of prosperity for me; I will kill him, and take his heart’s flesh and I will then go to the Nāga world and give it to Varuṇa, and having thus obtained his daughter Irandatī I shall rise to the world of the gods.”
The Teacher has thus described it:
219. “When he had gone there he thought to himself: ‘Rational beings exist in various gradations; I have no possible use for his life, I will kill him and take his heart.’ ”
Then again he thought: “What if without killing him by my own hand I were to cause him to perish by showing him some frightful
Then he came up in the shape of a lion and of a furious elephant, he threatened to attack him with teeth and tusks; and when the other still showed no fear, he assumed the appearance of a great serpent as big as a great trough-shaped canoe, and coming up to him hissing and coiling his body round him it covered his head with its hood, but the other showed no signs of alarm.
Then he said: “As he stands on the top of a mountain and falls down, I will shatter him into fragments by the fall,” so he raised up a mighty wind; but it stirred not the end of one of his hairs. Then he set him on the top of a mountain and himself standing in the form of an elephant, he made it shake to and fro like a wild date palm tree, but even then he could not stir one hair of his head from its place.
Then he said: “I will make his heart burst through terror at some frightful sound,” so he entered the inside of the mountain, and uttering a tremendous roar filled heaven and earth with one mighty sound; but still the Great Being showed no alarm; for he knew that he who had thus come in the form of a Yakkha and a lion and an elephant and a Nāga, and had shaken the mountain with the wind and rain, and had entered into the mountain and uttered the great roar, was still only a man and nothing else.
Then the Yakkha thought to himself, “I shall not be able to kill him by external attacks, I shall only destroy him by my own hand.” So he set the Great Being on the top of a mountain and himself going to the mountain’s foot rose up from the centre of the mountain as though he were inserting a white thread into a perforated gem, and with a roar he seized the Great Being violently and whirled him round, and flung him head downwards into the sky where there was nothing that he could lay hold of. It has thus been described:
220. “Having gone there and entered within the mountain Kātiyāna of evil mind held him with his head downwards in the open expanse of the world. So, the sky.
221. While he hung there as on the precipice of hell frightful to see and most difficult to traverse, he, the best of all the Kurus in action, thus addressed Puṇṇaka undismayed:
222. ‘You are base in your nature, though you assume for a time a noble form, utterly licentious though wearing the guise of one restrained, you are doing a cruel and monstrous deed, there is nothing good in your nature.
223. What is your reason for killing me, when you wish to see me thrown down this precipice? Your appearance bespeaks you as something superhuman, tell me what kind of a god you are.’ ”
224. “You have heard perchance of the Yakkha Puṇṇaka, he is the minister of king Kuvera. There is an earth-ruling Nāga called Varuṇa, mighty, pure, and endowed with beauty and strength.
225. I desire his younger sister, the Nāga maiden named Irandatī; for the love of that fair damsel I have set my mind on killing you, O sage.”
The Great Being reflected: “This world is ruined by a thing being misunderstood, why should a wooer of a Nāga maiden want my death? I will learn the whole truth of the matter,” so he uttered a verse:
226. “Be not deceived, O Yakkha; many people are destroyed by a thing being misunderstood; what has your love for that fair maiden to do with my death? Come, let us hear the whole.”
Then Puṇṇaka said to him,
227. “In my love for the daughter of that mighty Nāga I consulted her kinsfolk, and when I sought her hand my father-in-law told me that they knew that I was moved by an honourable passion.
228. ‘We will give you the damsel endowed with beautiful body and eyes, fair-smiling and with her limbs perfumed with sandalwood, if you bring to me the sage’s heart won in fair fight;
229. Thus I am not deceived, listen, O you doer of right actions; there is nothing misunderstood by me; the Nāgas will give me the Nāga maiden Irandatī for your heart won in fair fight.
230. It is for this that I am set on killing you, it is in this way that I have need of your death. If I threw you hence down into hell I would kill you and take your heart.”
When the Great Being heard this he reflected: “Vimalā The wife of Kuvera. has no need of my heart. Varuṇa, after he had heard the discourse on the Dhamma and honoured me with his jewel must have gone home and described my power in discoursing concerning the Dhamma, and Vimalā must have felt a great longing to hear my words. Puṇṇaka must have been ordered by Varuṇa through a misconception, and he influenced by this his own misconception has brought about all this calamity. Now my character as a sage consists in my power to bring to light and to discover absolute truths. If Puṇṇaka kills me, what good will it do? Come, I will say to him, ‘Young man, I know the Dhamma as followed by good men; before I die, set me on the top of the mountain and hear the Dhamma of good men from me; and afterwards do what you will;’ and after having declared to him the Dhamma of good men I will let him take my life.” So he uttered this verse as he hung with his head downwards:
231. “Hold me up forthwith, O Kātiyāna, if you needest my heart;
Then Puṇṇaka reflected: “This law will never have been declared before to gods or men; I will forthwith hold him up and hear the Dhamma of good men,” so he lifted the Great Being up and set him on the summit of the mountain.
The Teacher has thus described it:
232. “Puṇṇaka, having quickly placed the best of the performers of good actions among the Kurus upon the mountain’s summit, asked the Teacher of lofty wisdom, as he sat looking at a pipul tree:
233. ‘I have brought you up from the precipice, I have need of your heart this day, tell me then today the Dhamma of the good man.’ ”
The Great Being said:
234. “I am saved by you from the precipice; if you need my heart, I will declare to you this day the Dhamma of the good man.”
Then the Great Being said: “My body is dirty, I will bathe.” The Yakkha consented, so he brought some water, and when he was bathing, he gave the Great Being some heavenly cloth and perfumes, and so on, and after he was adorned and dressed he gave him some heavenly food. When he had eaten, the Great Being caused the top of the Black Mountain to be covered with adornment, and prepared a richly decorated seat, and being seated thereon uttered a verse, describing in it the duty of the good man with a Buddha’s triumphant mastery:
235. “O youth, follow you the path already traversed; put away from you the soiled hand, This line seems corrupt and does not agree with the commentary, which explains it “do not burn the wet hand.” In the verses addo is translated here both “soiled” and “wet”; adubbha is the word used for “innocent.”
The Yakkha, being unable to comprehend these four rules expressed so concisely, asked in detail:
236. “How does one follow the path already traversed? How does one burn the wet hand? Who is the unchaste woman? Who is treacherous to his friend? Tell me the meaning at my request.”
The Great Being replied:
237. “Let a man follow his actions, who invites him even to a seat, when he comes as a stranger and never seen before; him the wise call one who follows in the path already traversed.
238. In whosoever house a man dwells even for one night, and receives there food and drink, let him not conceive an evil thought against him in his mind; he who is treacherous to his friend burns the innocent hand. i.e. the hand which had given him food?
239. Let not a man break a bough of that tree under whose shadow he sits or lies, the wretch is treacherous to his friend.
240. Let a man give this earth filled with riches to the woman whom he has chosen, yet she will despise him if she gets the opportunity; let him not fall into the power of unchaste women.
241. Thus does a man follow the path already traversed; thus does he burn the wet hand; this is the unchaste woman; this is one that is treacherous to his friend; such a man is righteous, abandon you unrighteousness.”
Thus did the Great Being declare to the Yakkha with a Buddha’s triumphant mastery the four duties of a good man.
When he heard them Puṇṇaka reflected: “In these four propositions the sage is only asking his own life; for he verily welcomed me though I was before unknown; I dwelt in his house three days, receiving great honour from him; I, doing him this wrong, do it for a woman’s sake; I am moreover in every way treacherous to my friends; if I shall do injury to the sage, I shall not follow the duty of a good man; what need have I of the Nāga maiden? I will carry him forthwith to Indapatta and gladden the weeping faces of its inhabitants and I will seat him in the convocation hall there.” Then he spoke aloud:
242. “I dwelt three days in your house, I was served with food and drink, you were my friend, I will let you go, O seer of excellent wisdom, you shall depart at your will to your own home.
243. Yea, let all that concerns the Nāga race perish, I have had enough of the Nāga maiden; by your own well-spoken words you are set free, O seer, from my threatened blow today.”
The Great Being replied, “O youth, send me not away to my own home but carry me to the Nāga dwelling,” and he uttered this verse:
244. “Come, Yakkha, carry me to your father-in-law, and act as is best towards me; I will show to him a royal Nāga palace which he has never seen before.”
245. “The wise man should not look on that which is not for a man’s well-being; why then, O seer of excellent wisdom, do you wish to go amongst your enemies?”
The Great Being answered:
246. “Verily I know it all; the wise man ought not to look upon it; but I have never at any time committed evil, and therefore I fear not the coming of death.
Moreover by my discourse concerning the Dhamma such a cruel being as thyself was won over and softened, and now you say, ‘I have had enough of the Nāga maiden, go you to thine own home;’ it is now my task to soften the Nāga king, carry me there forthwith.” When he heard this, Puṇṇaka consented, saying:
247. “Come, you shall see with me that world of unequalled glory where the Nāga king dwells amidst dance and song like king Vessavaṇa Kuvera. in Nalinī.
248. Filled with troops of Nāga maidens, gladdened constantly with their sports day and night, abounding with garlands and covered with flowers, it shines like the lightning in the sky.
249. Filled with food and with drink, with dance and song and instruments of music; filled with maidens richly attired, it shines with dresses and ornaments.”
[The Teacher described it:]
250. “Then Puṇṇaka placed him, the best doer of good actions among the Kurus, on a seat behind him and carried the illustrious sage to the palace of the Nāga king.
251. When he reached that place of unrivalled glory, the sage stood behind Puṇṇaka; and the Nāga king, beholding the concord between them, thus addressed his son-in-law as he had done before.
252. ‘You did go before to the world of men, seeking for the sage’s heart; have you returned here with success, bringing the sage of unequalled wisdom?’ ”
253. “He whom you desire is come, he is my guardian in duty, won by righteous means; behold him as he speaks before you, intercourse with the good brings happiness.”
The Nāga king uttered a verse as he saw the Great Being:
254. “This mortal, beholding me whom he had never seen before and pierced with the fear of death, does not speak to me in his terror; this is not like a wise man.”
The Great Being thus addressed the Nāga king while he conceived this idea, even though he had not directly said that he would not pay him
255. “I am not terrified, O Nāga, nor am I pierced with the fear of death; the victim should not address his executioner, nor should the latter ask his victim to address him.” The same thought is repeated in different words after this passage [i.e vs. 256 is omitted.]
Then the Nāga king uttered a verse in the Great Being’s praise:
257. “It is as you say, O sage, you speak the truth; the victim should not address his executioner nor should the latter ask his victim to address him.” The same thought is repeated in different words after this passage [i.e.. vs. 258 is omitted.]
Then the Great Being spoke kindly to the Nāga king:
259. “This splendour and glory and this might and Nāga birth of thine, are subject to death and not immortal; I ask you this question, O Nāga king, how did you obtain this palace?
260. Was it gained without a cause or as the development of a previous condition? was it made by yourself or given by the gods? Explain to me this matter, O Nāga king, how you did win this palace.” See Ja 524 Saṅkhapālajātaka, v.24.
The Nāga king replied:
261. “It was not gained without a cause, nor was it the development of a previous condition; it was not made by myself nor given by the gods; this palace of mine was gained by my own virtuous deeds.” See Ja 524 Saṅkhapālajātaka, v.29.
The Great Being answered:
262. “What holy vow was it, what practice of sanctity? Of what good action was this the fruit, this splendour and glory and might and Nāga birth of thine and this great palace, O Nāga?” Ja 524 Saṅkhapālajātaka, v.30ff, Sumaṅgalavilāsinī i. 177.
The Nāga king replied:
263. “I and my wife in the world of men were both full of faith and bountiful; my house was made into a drinking-hall, and ascetics and brahmins were cheered there.
264. Garlands and perfumes and ointments, lamps and couches and resting-places, raiment and beds and food and drink, I virtuously gave away there as free gifts.
265. That was my vow and practice of sanctity, this is the fruit of that good conduct, this splendour and glory and Nāga birth and this great palace, O seer.”
The Great Being said:
266. “If you have thus gained this palace, you know about the fruit of holy actions and rebirth; therefore practise virtue with all diligence that you may live again in a palace.”
The Nāga king replied:
267. “There are no ascetics or brahmins here to whom we may give food and drink, O holy one; tell me this thing I pray, how may I again live in a palace?”
The Great Being said:
268. “There are snakes who have been born here, sons and wives and dependents; commit no wrong towards them in word or deed at any time.
269. Thus follow you, O Nāga, innocence in word and deed, so shall you dwell here all your life in a palace and then depart hence to the world of the gods.”
The Nāga king, having heard the Dhamma discourse of the Great Being, thought to himself, “The sage cannot stay long away from his home; I will show him to Vimalā and let her hear his good words, and so calm her longing desire, and I will gratify king Dhanañjaya and then it will be right to send the sage home,” so he said:
270. “Verily that best of kings is mourning in your absence, whose intimate minister you are; having once regained you, though now distressed and sick, a man will regain happiness.”
The Great Being praised the Nāga:
271. “You do indeed utter the holy words of the good, a peerless word of Dhamma; in such crises of life as these the character of men like me is made known.”
Then the Nāga king still more delighted uttered a verse:
272. “Say, were you taken for nothing? Say, did he conquer you in the game? He says that he won you fairly – how did you come into his power?”
The Great Being replied:
273. “Puṇṇaka conquered in the game with dice him who was my lord and king;
274. The great Nāga, delighted and overjoyed, when he heard these noble words of the sage, seized the lord of lofty wisdom by the hand and thus went into the presence of his wife.
275-276. “He for whom, O Vimalā, you grew pale and food lost its savour in your eyes, this sun, for the sake of whose heart this trouble came upon you, listen well to his words, you will never see him again.”
277. Vimalā, when she saw the lord of great wisdom, folded the ten fingers of her hands in reverence, and thus addressed the best of the Kurus with her whole soul full of delight:
278. “This mortal, beholding me whom he had never seen before and pierced with the fear of death, does not speak to me in his terror; this is not like a wise man.”
279. “I am not terrified, O Nāgī, nor am I pierced with the fear of death; the victim should not address his executioner, nor should the latter ask his victim to address him.” The same dialogue is here repeated, with the gender altered to suit Vimalā [i.e. vs. 280-297 are omitted.]
298-299. Thus the Nāga maiden asked the sage the same question which the Nāga Varuṇa had asked him before; and the sage by his answer satisfied her as he had before satisfied Varuṇa.
300. The sage, seeing that the Nāga king and the Nāga maiden were both pleased with his answers, undaunted in soul and with not one hair erect with fear, thus addressed Varuṇa:
301. “Fear not, O Nāga, here I am; whatever use this body may be to you, whatever it can do by its heart and its flesh, I myself will carry out according to your will.”
The Nāga king replied:
302. “The heart of sages is their wisdom, we are delighted today with your wisdom; let him whose name implies perfection anūnanāmo? In allusion to his name Puṇṇaka from pupa “full.” take his bride today and let him put you in possession today of the Kurus.”
Having thus spoken, Varuṇa gave Irandatī to Puṇṇaka and he in his joy poured out his heart to the Great Being.
The Great Being has thus described the matter:
303. “Puṇṇaka, delighted and overjoyed, having won the Nāga maiden Irandatī, with his whole soul full of joy, thus addressed him who was the best of the Kurus in action:
304. ‘You have made me possessed of a wife, I will do what is due to you, O Vidhura; I give this pearl of jewels and I will put you today in possession of the Kurus.’ ”
Then the Great Being praised him in another verse:
305. “May your friendship with your loved wife be indissoluble, and do you in your joy with a happy heart give me the jewel and carry me to Indapatta.”
[The Teacher described it further:]
306. “Then Puṇṇaka placed the best of the Kurus in action on a seat before him and carried him, the lord of supreme wisdom, to the city Indapatta.
307. Swift as the mind of man may travel, his speed was even swifter still; and Puṇṇaka bore the best of the Kurus to the city Indapatta.”
Then he said to him:
308. “Behold before you the city Indapatta and its pleasant mango groves and districts; I am possessed of a wife, and you have obtained thine own home.”
Now on that very day at morning-tide the king saw a dream, and this was what he saw. At the door of the king’s palace there stood a great tree whose trunk was wisdom, and whose branches and boughs were like the virtues, and its fruits the five sacred products of the cow, Milk, ghee, curds, buttermilk, and butter. and it was covered with elephants and horses richly caparisoned; and a great multitude with folded hands were worshipping it with all reverence.
Then a black man, clothed with red cloth, and wearing earrings of red flowers, and bearing weapons in his hand, came up and cut the tree down by the roots in spite of the expostulations of the multitude, and dragged it off and went away, and then came back and planted it again in its old place and departed.
Then the king as he comprehended the dream said to himself, “The sage Vidhura and no one else is like the great tree; that youth and no other, who carried off the sage, is like the man who cut the tree down by the roots in spite of the expostulations of the multitude; and verily he will come back and set him at the door of the Dhamma Hall and depart. We shall behold the seer again today.”
So he joyfully ordered the whole city to be decorated and the Dhamma Hall to be got ready and a pulpit in a pavilion adorned with jewels; and himself surrounded by a hundred kings, with their counsellors, and a multitude of citizens and country people, he consoled them all by saying: “Fear not, you will see the sage again today,” and he seated himself in the Dhamma Hall, looking for the sage’s return. Then Puṇṇaka brought the sage down and seated him in the middle of the assembly at the door of the Dhamma Hall, and then departed with Irandatī to his own celestial city.
The Teacher has thus described it:
309. “Puṇṇaka of noble race, having set him down, the best of the Kurus in action, in the middle of the Dhamma Hall, mounted his own noble steed and sped in the sky through the air.
310. When the king beheld him, he, filled with delight, sprang up and embraced him with his arms, and without a moment’s fear seated him on a throne before him in the midst of the congregation.”
Then after exchanging friendly greeting with him he welcomed him affectionately and uttered a verse:
311. “You guide us like a ready-furnished chariot, the Kurus rejoice at seeing you; answer me and tell me this, how was it that that young man let you go?”
The Great Being replied:
312. “He whom you call a young man, O great king, is no common man, O best of heroes; if you have ever heard of the Yakkha Puṇṇaka, it was he, the minister of king Kuvera.
313. There is a Nāga king named Varuṇa, mighty, endowed with strength and a noble presence, now Puṇṇaka loves his younger daughter, the Nāga maiden Irandatī.
314. He laid his plan for my death for the sake of that fair maiden whom he loved, he thus obtained his wife, and I was allowed to depart and the jewel was won.”
The Nāga king, being pleased with my solution of his question as to the four ends of men, paid me the honour of giving me a jewel; and when he returned to the Nāga world, his queen Vimalā asked him where the jewel was. He described my skill in discoursing concerning the Dhamma, and she, being desirous of hearing such a discourse, feigned a longing for my heart. The Nāga king, not understanding her real wish, said to his daughter Irandatī, “Your mother has a longing for Vidhura’s heart, find out a noble who is able to bring it for her.” As she was seeking one, she saw the Yakkha Puṇṇaka who was the son of Vessavaṇa’s Kuvera. sister, and, as she knew that he was in love with her, she sent him to her father, who said to him, “If you are able to bring me Vidhura’s heart you shall obtain her.”
So he, having brought from the mountain Vepulla the gem which might well belong to a Universal Monarch, played dice with me and having won me by his play he remained three days in my house. Then he made me lay hold of his horse’s tail, and dashed me against the trees and mountains in the Himālayas, but he could not kill me. Then he rushed forward on a whirlwind in the seventh sphere of the winds and he set me on the top of the Black Mountain sixty leagues high; there he assailed me as a lion and in other shapes, but he could not kill me. Then at last at his request I told him how I could be killed.
Then I proceeded to tell him the duties of the good man, and when he heard them he was highly pleased and wished to bring me here. Then I took him and went to the Nāga world and I told the Dhamma to the king and to Vimalā, and all the court was highly pleased; and after I had stayed
Then at the king’s command he mounted me on a magic horse created by his will, and seating himself in the middle seat and Irandatī behind, he brought me here and put me down in the middle of the court, and then went away with Irandatī to his own city.
Thus, O king, for the sake of that fair maiden whom he loved he laid his plan for my death and thus through me he obtained his wife. When the king had heard my discourse on the Dhamma, he was pleased and let me depart and I received from Puṇṇaka this jewel which grants all desires and which is worthy of a universal emperor; accept it, O monarch,” and so saying he gave the jewel to the king. Then the king, in the morning, being desirous to tell the citizens the dream which he had seen, related to them the history as follows:
315. “There grew a tree before my gates, its trunk was wisdom and its boughs the moral virtues; it ripened into all that was natural and developed, its fruits were the five products of the cow, and it was covered with elephants and cattle.
316. But while it resounded with dance, song, and musical instruments a man came and cut it up from the roots and carried it away; it then came to this palace of ours, pay your homage to this tree.
317. Let all who are joyful by my means show it today by their actions; bring your presents in abundance, and pay your homage to this tree.
318. Whatever captives there may be in my realm, let them set them all loose from their captivity; as this tree has been delivered from its captivity, so let them release others from bondage.
319. Let them spend this month on holiday, hanging up their ploughs; let them feast the brahmins with flesh and rice; let them drink in private, and still seem total abstainers, with their full cups flowing over.
320. Let them invite their friends on the highway, and keep a strict watch in the kingdom so that none may injure his neighbour, pay your homage to this tree.”
When he had thus spoken,
321. “The queens, the princes, the vesiyas, and the brahmins brought to the sage much food and drink.
322. Riders on elephants, body-guards, riders in chariots, foot-soldiers, brought to the sage much food and drink.
323. The people of the country and the city gathered together in crowds brought to the sage much food and drink.
324. The vast assembly were filled with joy, beholding the seer after he had come: when the sage had come a triumphant waving of cloths took place.”
After a month the festival came to an end: the Great Being, as fulfilling a Buddha’s duties, taught the great assembly the Dhamma, counselled the king and so fulfilled his span of life and so became destined for heaven. Abiding in his teaching, and following their king all the inhabitants of the Kuru kingdom gave gifts and performed good works and at the end of their lives went to swell the hosts of heaven.
The Teacher, having brought his lesson to an end, said: “Not only now but formerly also did the Tathāgata, having wisdom, show himself skilful in means.” Then he identified the Jātaka, “At that time the sage’s father and mother were the royal family, the eldest queen was Rāhula’s mother, the eldest son was Rāhula, Varuṇa the Nāga king was Sāriputta, the Garuḷa king was Moggallāna, Sakka was Anuruddha, the king Dhanañjaya was Ānanda, and the wise Vidhura was myself.”
last updated: November 2021