Ja 3 Serivavāṇijajātaka
The Story about the Tradesman from Serivā

A Pāli and English line by line (interlinear) version of the third Jātaka story, including the word commentary, which has never been translated before.

edited and translated by
Ānandajoti Bhikkhu
(December 2021)




This Jātaka has interest in being a record of the first time, five aeons previous to the time of the Buddha, there was antagonism between an earlier incarnation of Devadatta and the Bodhisatta. A theme which plays out over and over again the Jātaka stories. Again Devadatta is not mentioned in the Introduction, but he is named as the antagonist in the Conclusion.


In the present a monk is about to give up striving. The Buddha tells a story of two merchants, one of whom attempts to cheat a poor family out of its riches, while the other paid a decent price for their golden bowl.

The Bodhisatta = the wise merchant (paṇḍitavāṇija),
Devadatta = the foolish merchant (bālavāṇija).

Keywords: Honesty, Integrity.

The Story of the Present

Idha ce naṁ virādhesī,” ti imam-pi Dhammadesanaṁ
If here you miss,” this Dhamma teaching

Bhagavā Sāvatthiyaṁ viharanto,
the Fortunate One taught while living at Sāvatthi,

ekaṁ ossaṭṭhaviriyam-eva bhikkhuṁ ārabbha kathesi.
referring to one monk who had given up effort.

Tañ-hi purimanayeneva bhikkhūhi ānītaṁ disvā, Satthā āha:
For, having seen the monks bring someone, as in the previous manner, i.e. as they did in the previous Jātaka, no 2: The Teacher... said: “Monks, you have brought this monk here against his will, what has he done?” They said: “Reverent sir, this monk, after going forth in this Dispensation which leads out (of saṁsāra), and doing ascetic practice, has given up his effort, and returned.” the Teacher said:

“Tvaṁ, bhikkhu, evarūpe Maggaphaladāyake Sāsane {1.111} pabbajitvā
“You, monk, after going forth in this Dispensation which gives both Path and Fruit,

viriyaṁ ossajanto,
are giving up effort,

satasahassagghanikāya kañcanapātiyā parihīno Serivavāṇijo viya,
and, like the Serivā tradesman, who lost a golden plate worth a hundred thousand,

ciraṁ socissasī.” ti
will grieve for a long time.”

Bhikkhū tassatthassa āvibhāvatthaṁ Bhagavantaṁ yāciṁsu,
The monks begged the Fortunate One to make his meaning appear,

Bhagavā bhavantarena paṭicchannakāraṇaṁ pākaṭam-akāsi.
and the Fortunate One made clear the deeds that had been concealed by the gap between existences.

The Story of the Past

Atīte ito pañcame kappe Bodhisatto
Five aeons in the past from here the Bodhisatta

Serivaraṭṭhe kacchapuṭavāṇijo ahosi.
was a tradesman having a reed-basket in the country of Serivā.

So Serivanāmakena ekena lolakacchapuṭavāṇijena saddhiṁ,
Together with another greedy tradesman having a reed-basket, who was also called the Serivā,

vohāratthāya gacchanto,
while going round on business,

Nīlavāhaṁ nāma nadiṁ uttaritvā,
after crossing over the river Nīlavāha,

Ariṭṭhapuraṁ nāma nagaraṁ pavisanto,
entering the city called Ariṭṭhapura,

nagaravīthiyo bhājetvā,
and dividing the city streets (between them),

attano pattavīthiyā bhaṇḍaṁ vikkiṇanto vicari,
he wandered round selling his wares on his own (designated) street,

itaro pi attano pattavīthiṁ gaṇhi.
and the other also went along his own (designated) street.

Tasmiñ-ca nagare ekaṁ seṭṭhikulaṁ parijiṇṇaṁ ahosi,
In that city there was one rich merchant’s family that had decayed,

sabbe puttabhātikā ca dhanañ-ca parikkhayaṁ agamaṁsu.
and all the sons and brothers and wealth had been destroyed.

Ekā dārikā ayyikāya saddhiṁ avasesā ahosi,
One young girl and her grandmother were all that remained,

tā dve pi paresaṁ bhatiṁ katvā jīvanti.
and those two made a living making money for others. i.e. working for others.

Gehe pana tāsaṁ mahāseṭṭhinā paribhuttapubbā suvaṇṇapāti.
But in their house there was a golden dish that previously the great merchant used to eat from.

Bhājanantare nikkhittā dīgharattaṁ,
A long time ago it had been discarded amongst the other dishes,

avalañjiyamānā malaggahitā ahosi,
and being unused it had become spoiled,

tā tassā suvaṇṇapātibhāvam-pi na jānanti.
and they did not know it was a golden dish.

So lolavāṇijo tasmiṁ samaye:
At that time the greedy tradesman,

“Maṇike gaṇhatha, maṇike gaṇhathā” ti vicaranto,
wandered around, calling out: “Get your pots, get your pots”,

taṁ gharadvāraṁ pāpuṇi.
and he reached the door of the house.

Sā kumārikā taṁ disvā, ayyikaṁ āha:
The young girl having seen him, said this to her grandmother:

“Amma mayhaṁ ekaṁ piḷandhanaṁ gaṇhā.” ti
“My dear, please buy me an ornament.”

“Amma mayaṁ duggatā, kiṁ datvā, gaṇhissāmā?” ti
“My dear, we are poor, having given what, could we buy (something)?”

“Ayaṁ no pāti atthi no ca amhākaṁ upakārā, imaṁ datvā, gaṇhā.” ti
“There is this plate which is of no use to us, having given this, let us buy (something).”

Sā vāṇijaṁ pakkosāpetvā, āsane nisīdāpetvā, taṁ pātiṁ datvā:
After calling the tradesman, and making him sit down, and giving him the dish,

“Ayya, imaṁ gahetvā, tava bhaginiyā kiñcid-eva dehī,” ti āha.
she said: “Sir, take this and give your sister something.”

Vāṇijo pātiṁ hatthena gahetvā va:
The tradesman took the dish in his hand,

“Suvaṇṇapāti bhavissatī,” ti parivattetvā,
and rolling it round, thinking: “This must be a golden dish,”

pātipiṭṭhiyaṁ sūciyā lekhaṁ kaḍḍhitvā, suvaṇṇabhāvaṁ ñatvā:
he scratched a line with a needle along the back of the plate, and knowing it was made of gold,

“Imāsaṁ kiñci adatvā, va imaṁ pātiṁ harissāmī,” ti:
he thought: “Without giving anything, I can carry this off,”

“Ayaṁ kiṁ agghati, aḍḍhamāsako pissā mūlaṁ na {1.112} hotī,” ti
and he said: “What is this worth, it isn’t even worth a halfpenny,”

bhūmiyaṁ khipitvā, uṭṭhāyāsanā pakkāmi.
and after throwing it on the floor, he got up and left.

“Ekena pavisitvā nikkhantavīthiṁ, itaro pavisituṁ labhatī.” ti
(They had agreed:) “When one has entered and then left the street, the other has permission to enter it.”

Bodhisatto taṁ vīthiṁ pavisitvā:
The Bodhisatta, after entering that street,

“Maṇike gaṇhatha, maṇike gaṇhathā” ti vicaranto,
wandered around, calling out: “Get your pots, get your pots”,

tam-eva gharadvāraṁ pāpuṇi.
and he reached the door of the house.

Puna sā kumārikā tatheva ayyikaṁ āha.
Again the young girl spoke right there to her grandmother.

Atha naṁ ayyikā:
Then her grandmother said:

“Amma, paṭhamaṁ āgatavāṇijo pātiṁ bhūmiyaṁ khipitvā gato.
“My dear the first tradesman who came, after throwing the dish on the floor, left.

Idāni kiṁ datvā gaṇhissāmā,” ti āha.
Now having given what, could we buy (something)?”

“Amma, so vāṇijo pharusavāco,
“My dear, that tradesman spoke roughly,

ayaṁ pana piyadassano, mudusallāpo,
but this one is pleasant to behold, and speaks softly,

appeva nāma naṁ gaṇheyyā.” ti
maybe he would take it.”

“Amma, tena hi pakkosāhī.” ti
“My dear, then summon him.”

Sā taṁ pakkosi.
She summoned him.

Athassa gehaṁ pavisitvā, nisinnassa, taṁ pātiṁ adaṁsu.
Then, after he had entered the house, while sitting, she gave him the dish.

So tassā suvaṇṇapātibhāvaṁ ñatvā:
He knew it was a golden dish,

“Amma, ayaṁ pāti satasahassaṁ agghati,
and said: “My dear, this dish is worth a hundred thousand,

satasahassagghanakabhaṇḍaṁ mayhaṁ hatthe natthī,” ti āha.
but there isn’t a hundred thousand in wares to hand.”

“Ayya, paṭhamaṁ āgatavāṇijo:
“My dear the first tradesman who came,

‘Ayaṁ aḍḍhamāsakam-pi na agghatī’ ” ti vatvā
having said: ‘This isn’t even worth a halfpenny,’ ”

bhūmiyaṁ khipitvā, gato.
after throwing in on the ground, left.

Ayaṁ pana tava puññena suvaṇṇapāti jātā bhavissati,
It must be through your own merit that this dish became golden,

mayaṁ imaṁ tuyhaṁ dema kiñcid-eva,
give us something for it,

no datvā, imaṁ gahetvā, yāhī.” ti
and after giving us, take (the dish), and go on (your way).”

Bodhisatto tasmiṁ khaṇe hatthagatāni pañca kahāpaṇasatāni,
The Bodhisatta at that moment had to hand five hundred coins,

pañcasatagghanakañ-ca bhaṇḍaṁ sabbaṁ, datvā:
and wares worth another five hundred altogether, and after giving them,

“Mayhaṁ imaṁ tulañ-ca pasibbakañ-ca aṭṭha ca kahāpaṇe dethā,” ti
he said: “Please give me this scales, bag, and eight coins,”

ettakaṁ yācitvā, ādāya pakkāmi.
and after begging this much, he took (them) and departed.

So sīgham-eva nadītīraṁ gantvā,
He went quickly to the river side,

nāvikassa aṭṭha kahāpaṇe datvā, nāvaṁ abhiruhi.
and after giving eight coins to the boatman, he boarded the boat.

Tato lolavāṇijo pi puna taṁ gehaṁ gantvā:
After that the greedy trader went again to that house,

“Āharatha taṁ pātiṁ, tumhākaṁ kiñcid-eva dassāmī” ti āha.
and said: “Bring me the dish, I will give you something (for it).”

Sā taṁ paribhāsitvā:
She replied to him, saying:

“Tvaṁ amhākaṁ satasahassagghanikaṁ suvaṇṇapātiṁ
“Our golden dish was worth a hundred thousand and you

aḍḍhamāsagghanikam-pi na akāsi tuyhaṁ,
didn’t value at even a halfpenny,

pana sāmikasadiso eko dhammiko vāṇijo,
but one righteous trader, like a lord,

amhākaṁ sahassaṁ datvā taṁ ādāya gato” ti āha.
gave us a thousand, and took it away.”

Taṁ sutvā va:
Having heard that,

“Satasahassagghanikāya suvaṇṇapātiyā parihīnomhi,
thinking: “I have lost a golden dish worth a hundred thousand,

mahājānikaro vata me ayan,”-ti sañjātabalavasoko,
this has caused me a great loss,” and strong grief arose,

satiṁ paccupaṭṭhāpetuṁ asakkonto, {1.113} visaññī hutvā,
and being unable to establish his mindfulness, he became deranged,

attano hatthagate kahāpaṇe ceva bhaṇḍikañ-ca
scattering his money and wares from out of his hands

gharadvāre yeva vikiritvā,
at the door of the house,

nivāsanapārupanaṁ pahāya,
he abandoned his cloak and undergarments,

tulādaṇḍaṁ muggaraṁ katvā ādāya,
and taking his weighing stick, and making it into a club,

Bodhisattassa anupadaṁ pakkanto, nadītīraṁ gantvā,
he departed in the footsteps of the Bodhisatta, and went to the river side,

Bodhisattaṁ gacchantaṁ disvā:
Having seen the Bodhisatta going along,

“Ambho, nāvika, nāvaṁ nivattehī!” ti āha.
he said: “Hey, boatman, turn the boat around!”

Bodhisatto pana: “Tāta, mā nivattayī!” ti paṭisedhesi.
But the Bodhisatta stayed him, saying: “Dear, do not turn back!”

Itarassa pi, Bodhisattaṁ gacchantaṁ passantasseva,
Seeing the Bodhisatta going away, for the other (trader)

balavasoko udapādi, hadayaṁ uṇhaṁ ahosi,
strong grief arose, his heart became hot,

mukhato lohitaṁ uggañchi,
and blood spurted from his mouth,

vāpikaddamo viya hadayaṁ phali.
and his heart split, like a dam over a reservoir.

So Bodhisatte āghātaṁ bandhitvā,
Wound up with agitation with the Bodhisatta,

tattheva jīvitakkhayaṁ pāpuṇi.
right there he arrived at the death.

Idaṁ paṭhamaṁ Devadattassa Bodhisatte āghātabandhanaṁ.
This was the first time Devadatta was wound up with agitation with the Bodhisatta.

Bodhisatto dānādīni puññāni katvā, yathākammaṁ gato.
The Bodhisatta, giving gifts and so on and doing other meritorious deeds, passed on according to his deeds.

Pariyosāna 1
The Conclusion 1

Sammāsambuddho, imaṁ Dhammadesanaṁ kathetvā,
The Perfect Sambuddha, after teaching this Dhamma discourse,

abhisambuddho va imaṁ gāthaṁ kathesi:
becoming Fully Awakened, spoke this verse:

Gāthā ca Padavaṇṇanā ca
The Verse and Word Commentary

“Idha ce naṁ virādhesi Saddhammassa niyāmataṁ,
“If here you miss being certain of (results in) the True Dhamma,

Ciraṁ tvaṁ anutappesi, Serivāyaṁ va vāṇijo.” ti
For a long time you will suffer, like the merchant from Serivā.”

Tattha, idha ce naṁ virādhesi, saddhammassa niyāmatan,-ti
Herein, if here you miss being certain of (results in) the True Dhamma, means:

imasmiṁ Sāsane, etaṁ Saddhammassa,
in this Dispensation, in this True Dhamma,

niyāmatāsaṅkhātaṁ Sotāpattimaggaṁ virādhesi.
you miss being what is reckoned as certain, (such as) the Path of Stream-Entry.

Yadi virādhesi, viriyaṁ ossajanto
If you miss, through giving up effort,

nādhigacchasi na paṭilabhasī ti attho.
and do not attain, do not gain (these), is the meaning.

Ciraṁ tvaṁ anutappesī ti
For a long time you will suffer means

evaṁ sante tvaṁ dīgham-addhānaṁ
thus there will be for you for a long period of time of

socanto, paridevanto, anutapessasi,
grieving, lamenting, remorse,

atha vā ossaṭṭhaviriyatāya, Ariyamaggassa virādhitattā,
then through giving up effort, and losing the Noble Path,

dīgharattaṁ nirayādīsu uppanno,
and being reborn in hell and so forth for a long time,

nānappakārāni dukkhāni anubhavanto,
while experiencing manifold suffering,

anutappissasi kilamissasī, ti ayam-ettha attho.
you will become weary with remorse, this is the meaning here.


Serivāyaṁ va vāṇijo, ti:
Like the merchant from Serivā,

Serivā, ti evaṁnāmako ayaṁ vāṇijo yathā.
Serivā, this is the name of of this trader.

Idaṁ vuttaṁ hoti:
This is what is said:

Yathā pubbe Serivanāmako vāṇijo,
Just as formerly the trader called Serivā,

satasahassagghanikaṁ suvaṇṇapātiṁ labhitvā,
having received the golden dish worth a hundred thousand,

tassā gahaṇatthāya, viriyaṁ akatvā, tato parihīno anutappi,
because of grasping at it, not having made a (proper) effort, was remorseful at his loss,

evam-eva tvam-pi imasmiṁ Sāsane,
so you, in this Dispensation,

like the decorated golden dish,

Ariyamaggaṁ ossaṭṭhaviriyatāya, anadhigacchanto,
through giving up effort, not attaining the Noble Path,

tato parihīno, dīgharattaṁ anutappissasi.
and because of that losing out, you will have remorse for a long time.

Sace pana viriyaṁ na ossajissasi,
But if you do not give up effort,

paṇḍitavāṇijo suvaṇṇapātiṁ viya,
like the wise trader and the golden dish,

mama Sāsane navavidham-pi lokuttaradhammaṁ paṭilabhissasī ti.
you will attain the supermundane in nine ways i.e., the four Paths, the four Fruits, and Nibbāna. in my Dispensation.

Pariyosāna 2
The Conclusion 2

Evam-assa {1.114} Satthā, Arahattena kūṭaṁ gaṇhanto,
Thus the Teacher, taking Worthiness as the summit,

imaṁ Dhammadesanaṁ dassetvā,
presented this Dhamma teaching,

cattāri saccāni pakāsesi, saccapariyosāne
and revealed the four truths, and at the end of the truths

ossaṭṭhaviriyo bhikkhu aggaphale Arahatte patiṭṭhāsi.
the monk who had given up effort was established in the highest fruit of Worthiness.

Satthā pi dve vatthūni kathetvā
The Teacher, having told these two stories,

anusandhiṁ ghaṭetvā, Jātakaṁ samodhānetvā dassesi:
joined them together, and showed the connection of the Jātaka:

“Tadā bālavāṇijo Devadatto ahosi,
“Then the foolish trader was Devadatta,

paṇḍitavāṇijo pana aham-eva ahosin,”-ti
but I was the wise trader,”

desanaṁ niṭṭhāpesi.
and so he concluded the teaching.

Serivavāṇijajātakaṁ, Tatiyā
The Story about the Tradesman from Serivā, the Third