Dasaratha Jataka No. 461 (The
Buddhist story of Rama)(translation by Prof. E.B. Cowell from the
Pali Text Society
This story the Master told
in Jetavana about a landowner whose father was dead. This man on his father’s
death was overwhelmed with sorrow: leaving all his duties undone, he gave himself up to his sorrow wholly. The Master at dawn of day looking out upon mankind, perceived that he was ripe for attaining the fruit
of the First Path. Next day, after going his rounds for alms in SAvatthi, his
meal done, he dismissed the Brethren, and taking with him a junior Brother, went to this man’s house, and gave him greeting,
and addressed him as he sat there in words of honey sweetness. “You are
in sorrow, lay Brother?” said he. “Yes, Sir, afflicted with sorrow for my father’s sake.” Said the
Master, “Lay Brother, wise men of old who exactly knew the eight conditions of this world, felt at a father’s
death no grief, not even a little.” Then at his request he told a story
of the past.
Once upon a
time, at Benares,
a great king named Dasaratha renounced the ways of evil, and reigned in righteousness.
Of his sixteen thousand wives, the eldest and queen consort bore him two sons and a daughter; the elder son was named
Rama pandita, or Rama the wise, the second was named Prince Lakkhana or Lucky, and the daughter’s name was the Lady
Sita (meaning “cool”).
In course of
time, the queen consort died. At her death the king was for a long time crushed
by sorrow, but urged by his courtiers he performed her obsequies, and set another in her place as queen consort. She was dear to the king and beloved. In time she also
conceived, and all due attention having been given her, she brought forth a son, and they named him Prince Bharata.
The king loved
his son much, and said to the queen, “Lady, I offer you a boon: choose.” She accepted the offer, but put it off
for the time. When the lad was seven years old, she went to the king, and said
to him, “My lord, you promised a boon for my son. Will you give it to me now?”
“Choose, lady,” said he. “My lord,” quoth she,
“give my son the kingdom.” The king snapt his fingers at her; “Out, vile jade!” said he angrily, “my
other two sons shine like blazing fires; would you kill them, and ask the kingdom for a son of yours?” She fled in terror
to her magnificent chamber, and on other days again and again asked the king for this.
The king would not give her this gift. He thought within himself: “Women
are ungrateful and treacherous. This woman might use a forged letter or a treacherous
bribe to get my sons murdered.” So he sent for his sons, and told them
all about it, saying: “My sons, if you live here some mischief may befall you.
Go to some neighboring kingdom, or to the woodland, and when my body is burnt, then return and inherit the kingdom
which belongs to your family.” Then he summoned soothsayers, and asked them the limits of his own life. They told him he would live yet twelve years longer. Then he said, “Now, my sons, after twelve years
you must return, and uplift the umbrella of royalty.” They promised, and after taking leave of their father, went forth
from the palace weeping. The Lady Sita said, “I too will go with my brothers:”
she bade her father farewell, and went forth weeping.
depared amidst a great company of people. They sent the people back, and proceeded
until at last they came to Himalaya. There in
a spot well watered, and convenient for the getting of wild fruits, they built a hermitage, and there lived, feeding upon
the wild fruits.
Lakkhana pandita and Sita said to Ramapandita,
“You are in place of a father to us; remain then in the hut, and we will bring wild fruit, and feed you. “ He
agreed: thenceforward Ramapandita stayed where he was, the others brought the wild fruit and fed him with it.
Thus they lived there, feeding upon the wild
fruit; but King Dasaratha pined after his sons, and died in the ninth year. When
his obsequies were performed, the queen gave orders that the umbrella should be raised over her son, Prince Bharata. But the courtiers said, “The lords of the umbrella are dwelling in the forest,
“ and they would not allow it. Said Prince Bharata, “I will fetch
back my brother Rama pandita from the forest, and raise the royal umbrella over him. “ Taking the five emblems of royalty(Sword,
umbrella, diadem, slippers and fan), he proceeded with a complete host of the four arms (elephants, cavalry, chariots, infantry)
to their dwelling place. Not far away he caused camp to be pitched, and then
with a few courtiers he visited the hermitage, at the time Lakkhana pandita and Sita were away in the woods. At the door of the hermitage sat Ramapandita, undismayed and
at ease, like a figure of fine gold firmly set. The prince approached him with
a greeting, and standing on one side, told him of all that had happened in the kingdom, and falling at his feet along with
the courtiers, burst into weeping. Ramapandita neither sorrowed nor wept; emotion
in his mind was none. When Bharata had finished weeping, and sat down, towards
evening the other two returned with wild fruits. Rama pandita thought –“These
two are young: all comprehending wisdom like mine is not theirs. If they are
told on a sudden that our father is dead, the pain will be greater than they can bear, and who knows but their hearts may
break. I will persuade them to go down into the water, and find a means of disclosing
the truth.” Then pointing out to them a place in front where there was
water, he said, “You have been out too long: let this be your penance – go into that water, and stand there. “
Then he repeated a half stanza:
“Let Lakkhana and
Sita both into that pond descend.”
One word sufficed, into the water they went,
and stood there. Then he told them the news by repeating the other half stanza:
“Bharata says, king
Dasaratha’s life is at an end.”
When they heard the news of their father’s
death, they fainted. Again he repeated it, again they fainted, and when even
a third time they fainted away, the courtiers raised them and brought them out of the water, and set them upon dry ground. When they had been comforted, they all sat weeping and wailing together. Then Prince Bharata thought: “My brother Prince Lakkhana, and my sister the Lady Sita, cannot restrain
their grief to hear of our father’s death; but Rama pandita neither wails nor weeps.
I wonder what can the reason be that he grieves not? I will ask.” Then he repeated the second stanza, asking the question:
“say by what power
thou grievest not, Rama, when grief should be?
Though it is said thy
sire is dead grief overwhelms not thee!”
Then Rama pandita explained the reason of his feeling no grief by saying,
“When man can never
keep a thing, though loudly he may cry,
Why should a wise intelligence
torment itself thereby?
The young in years, the
older grown, the fool, and eke the wise,
For rich, for poor one
end is sure: each man among them dies.
As sure as for the ripened
fruit there comes the fear of fall,
So surely comes the fear
of death to mortals one and all.
Who in the morning light
are seen by evening oft are gone,
And seen at evening time,
is gone by morning many a one.
It to a fool infatuate
a blessing could accrue
When he torments himself
with tears, the wise this same would do.
By this tormenting of
himself he waxes thin and pale;
This cannot bring the
dead to life, and nothing tears avail.
Even as a blazing house
may be put out with water, so
The strong, the wise,
the intelligent, who well the scriptures know,
Scatter their grief like
cotton when the stormy winds do blow.
One mortal dies –
to kindred ties born is another straight:
bliss dependent is on ties associate.
The strong man therefore,
skilled in sacred text,
Keen contemplating this
world and the next,
Knowing their nature,
not by any grief,
However great, in mind
and heart is vext.
So to my kindred I will
give, them will I keep and feed,
All that remain I will
maintain: such is the wise man’s deed.”
In these stanzas he explained the
Impermanence of things.
When the company heard this discourse of Rama
pandita, illustrating the doctrine of Impermanence, they lost all their grief. Then
Prince Bharata saluted Rama pandita, begging him to receive the kingdom
of Benares. “Brother,”
said Rama, “take Lakkhana and Sita with you, and administer the kingdom yourselves.” “No, my lord, you take
“Brother, my father commanded
me to receive the kingdom at the end of twelve years. If I go now, I shall not
carry out his bidding. After three more years I will come. “ “Who
will carry on the government all that time?” “You do it.” “I will not.” “Then until
I come, these slippers shall do it,” said Rama, and doffing his slippers of straw he gave them to his brother. So these three persons took the slippers, and bidding the wise man farewell, went
to Benares with their great crowd of followers.
For three years the slippers ruled the kingdom. The courtiers placed these straw slippers upon the royal throne, when they judged
a cause. If the cause were decided wrongly, the slippers beat upon each other
, and at that sign it was examined again; when the decision was right, the
slippers lay quiet.
When the three years were
over, the wise man came out of the forest, and came to
and entered the park. The princes hearing of his arrival proceeded with a great
company to the park, and making Sita the queen consort, gave to them both the ceremonial sprinkling. The sprinkling thus performed, the Great Being standing in a magnificent chariot, and surrounded by a vast
company, entered the city, making a solemn circuit right-wise; then mounting to the great terrace of his splendid palace Sucandaka,
he reigned there in righteousness for sixteen thousand years, and then went to swell the hosts of heaven.
This stanza of Perfect Wisdom explains
Years sixty times
a hundred, and ten thousand more, all told,
Reigned strong armed Rama, on
his neck the luck triple fold.”
The Master having ended this
discourse, declared the Truths, and identified the Birth:
(now at the conclusion of
the Truths, the land-owner was established in the fruit of the First Path:) “At that time the king Suddhodana was king
Dasaratha, MahAmAyA was the mother, RAhulA’s mother was Sita, Ananda was Bharata, and I myself was Rama pandita.