The Ten Jataka Stories
The Narratives About the Buddha’s Past Lives and Pursuit of the Ten Perfections
The Ten Jataka Stories are narratives about Gautama Buddha’s pursuit of Perfections in His final ten existences as a Bodhisatta. Each of these ten existences highlights the pursuit of each of the Ten Perfections. These include Renunciation Perfection, Endeavor Perfection, Loving-Kindness Perfection, Resolution Perfection, Wisdom Perfection, Morality Perfection, Patience Perfection, Equanimity Perfection, Truthfulness Perfection, and Generosity Perfection.
Previous to these final ten existences, our Bodhisatta had already spent a total of twenty Asankheyya Kappa and an additional 100,000 Kappa pursuing Perfections for the sake of Buddhahood.
The Pali word “Parami” (Perfections) has two meanings as follows:
1. It means special quality merit. It is the merit gained by putting one’s life on the line. Parami is above and beyond ordinary merit.
2. It means the habit of putting one’s life on the line in order to perform wholesomeness to the greatest extent. Such a habit can lead one to meet with prosperity here and now as well as in every future existence.
The pursuit of Parami or Perfections is not limited to the Bodhisattas who are working toward Buddhahood. Every human being needs to pursue it in order to not only form good habits but also eliminate bad habits which can lead to unwholesomeness and ruin.
The pursuit of the Ten Perfections can be carried out daily by giving alms, observing the Precepts and practicing meditation. The merit accumulated over time will one day be condensed into Perfections. And once the Ten Perfections have been pursued to the fullest extent, the result will be emancipation from the round of rebirth and the attainment of Nibbana.
The Ten Jataka Story
The First Jataka Story 第一世
Prince Temiya and the Pursuit of Renunciation Perfection
In this existence, our Bodhisatta was reborn Prince Temiya who had put his life on the line to pursue Renunciation Perfection to the greatest extent. He was determined to take up the religious life by shunning the kingship and worldly happiness. It had taken him 16 long years before he could achieve his goal. During which time, he had to pretend to be deaf, dumb and crippled. In other words, he would rather die than become a slave to defilements and sense-desire.
Being Fearful of the Hell Realm
A very long time ago, our Bodhisatta ceased to be from the Celestial Realm of Tavatimsa and was reborn the son of King Kasikaraja, the ruler of Varanasi, and his wife, Queen Candadevi. He was given the name “Temiyakumara”. When Prince Temiya was just a month old, he was sitting on his father’s lap when he heard his father order some thieves to be put to death and other thieves to suffer different forms of punishment, and he thought, “When I become king, I will also have to do these things to the thieves, and that will cause me to be reborn in the Hell Realm”
Temiya trembled with fear at the thought of going to the Hell Realm. And he was determined to leave the palace.
Putting Up with 16 Years of Hardship for the Sake of True Freedom
From that moment onward, Prince Temiya pretended to be crippled, deaf and dumb. He had had to endure a myriad of tests given to him by his father and the ministers. They tried to lure him with delicious cakes. They threatened him with a roaring fire, a raging elephant, a snake, etc. They applied cane juice all over his body and put him outside as food for the flies. They had an executioner put a knife to his throat and acted as though he was going to cut it. Still, Prince Temiya continued to pretend to be crippled, deaf and dumb. Finally, after 16 long years, the court astrologer told the king that Prince Temiya was a person of misfortune and had to be buried alive in the graveyard.
Leading the Masses to Practice Renunciation
At the graveyard, Prince Temiya showed the carriage driver who had been digging his grave that there was nothing at all wrong with him. But he had done everything in the past 16 years just so that he could live the religious life and practice renunciation. The driver returned to the palace to give the good news to the king and queen. The king and queen, all of the courtiers and the city inhabitants went to the graveyard in order to invite the prince back to the city. But everyone ended up ordaining as Yogis and Yoginis. All of them had practiced meditation until they were able to achieve Jhana attainments. After they died, they were reborn in the Brahma Realm.
The Second Jataka Story 第二世
The Mahajanaka Jataka Story and the Pursuit of Endeavor Perfection 勤修精进波罗蜜者—大生王子的故事
In this existence, our Bodhisatta was reborn Prince Mahajanaka who put his life on the line in order to pursue Endeavor Perfection. He had to encounter many obstacles but nothing could keep him from achieving his goal. In other words, he would rather die than give up. Endeavor is one of the many great virtues of a Bodhisatta who is working toward Buddhahood. He is an excellent role model where endeavor is concerned. Endeavor is the virtue which will enable one to meet with success at work. Most importantly, endeavor enables one to eventually be emancipated from suffering.
The Birth of the Heir to the Throne of Mithila City
Mithila City had been ruled by King Aritathajanaka until he was killed in the battle by his own brother. King Aritathajanaka’s wife who was pregnant at the time had to flee from the city by disguising herself as a commoner. She finally gave birth to a male infant whose complexion was as lovely as pure gold. He was given the name “Mahajanaka”. When Mahajanaka was 16 years old, he decided to journey across the ocean in order to try his luck at trading in a territory called Suvannabhumi. He was determined to raise the necessary funds and an army in order to dethrone his uncle.
Endeavoring to Persevere
The ship Mahajanaka was on ended up being completely wrecked by a violent storm and high waves. All of the passengers and crews except for Mahajanaka drowned. Mahajanaka survived because he had climbed up the mast and jumped as far away from the sinking ship as possible into the water. He spent a total of seven days swimming in the ocean. He was buoyed by the determination to dethrone his uncle. The female celestial being, Mekhla, had been watching him swimming in the ocean the entire time. She could not help but be impressed by his endeavor. And so she decided to rescue him by carrying him to Mithila City and setting him down on a special stone bench located inside the royal park.
Taking Up the Religious Life
It so happened that the king of Mithila City had just died without leaving an heir. The ministers of Mithila City decided to let loose a driverless horse carriage in order to find their new king. By the power of Mahajanaka’s merit, the horses brought the carriage to stop near the stone bench on which he was sleeping. The ministers offered the throne of Mithila City to him. Mahajanaka was able to achieve his goal because of his endeavor and his refusal to give up despite obstacles. Later, King Mahajanaka abdicated in order to take up the religious life. After he died, he was reborn in the Brahma Realm.
The Third Jataka Story 第三世
The Suvannasama Jataka Story and the Pursuit of Loving-Kindness Perfection 勤修慈波罗蜜者—苏皖纳三的故事
In this existence, our Bodhisatta was reborn Suvannasama who put his life on the line in order to pursue Loving-Kindness Perfection. Every Bodhisatta is marked by loving-kindness in that he is loving and kind to all human beings regardless of their social status, gender, age, or lineage. To a Bodhisatta, all living beings are his compatriots in that all of them share with him the similar suffering of the round of rebirth. And it is his wish to lead all beings to Nibbana. As Suvannasama, our Bodhisatta remained loving and kind even to the person who had tried to kill him.
A very long time ago, there lived in the Himavanta Forest a male ascetic called Dukula and a female ascetic called Parika. One day, King Sakka of the Tavatimsa Realm foresaw with his Celestial Eye that both ascetics would come to harm sometime in the future. So, he advised the couple to have a child together so that they would have someone to help them when the time came. He told Dukula to touch Parika’s abdomen when she was menstruating; and Dukula did as instructed. Ten months later, she gave birth to a male infant. His complexion was gloriously golden and they named him “Suvannasama”. When Suvannasama was 16 years old, both Dukula and Parika were sprayed in the eyes with the venom from a poisonous snake which made them completely blind. Since then, both of them had been cared for by Suvannasama.
Suvannasama was in the habit of spreading the current of love and kindness to every living being. This practice caused him to be popular with the wild animals in the forest, and they had a habit of following him wherever he went. One day, Suvannasama went to the river to fetch some water as he usually did. But on that same day, King Pilayakkharaja had been out hunting on his own. He was hiding behind a thick bush when he saw Suvannasama walking among all the animals. Not knowing for certain what Suvannasama was, the king decided to shoot him with a poisonous arrow. Although Suvannasama knew that the king had shot him, he did not feel any anger toward the king at all. When he did talk to the king, he did so with love and kindness until he became unconscious. The king vowed that he would take over Suvannasama’s duty and would take care of his parents for him for the rest of their lives.
Being Revived by the Power of Loving-Kindness and Gratitude
When the king told Dukula and Parika about what had happened to Suvannasama, they were not angry with him but asked only that he took them to see their son. At their son’s side, they cried piteously. Both ascetics made a resolute wish by reciting Suvannasama’s virtues. So did the female celestial being who had been Suvannasama’s mother in a previous existence. As a result, Suvannasama was able to gain full consciousness, and his wound also disappeared completely. Moreover, both ascetics regained their sight. Later, Suvannasama advised the king to return to his city and to rule his kingdom righteously by practicing the Ten Sovereign Virtues.
The Forth Jataka Story 第四世
The Nemiraja Jataka Story and the Pursuit of Resolution Perfection 勤修决意波罗蜜者—尼弥王的故事
In this existence, our Bodhisatta was reborn Nemiraja who pursued Resolution Perfection to the greatest extent. He was determined to perform wholesome deeds by taking up the religious life in order to lead himself and others out of suffering. Whatever his goal was, however major or minor it might be, he was determined to achieve it. In this existence, he willingly abandoned the bliss of the Brahma Realm so that he could be reborn in the Human Realm. His goal was to perpetuate the line of ascetics which had been founded by him in a previous existence.
Leaving the Brahma Realm
In one previous existence a very long time ago, our Bodhisatta was the ruler of the city of Mithila. One day, he spotted a single white hair on his head and immediately made the decision to take up the religious life as a Yogi. He understood only too well the uncertainty of all compounded things. In this case, he realized that death was fast approaching. He also made the resolute wish, “May my descendants continue to follow my example for as long as possible!” After he died, he was reborn in the Brahma Realm. A very long time had passed by and some 84,000 of his descendants had continued to take up the religious life as soon as they spotted a white hair on their head. However, our Bodhisatta could see with his supernormal insight that the next monarch would break with family tradition. Therefore, he decided to cease to be in the Brahma Realm in order to be reborn in the Human Realm as “Nemirajakumara” to perpetuate his family tradition.
King Nemiraja – Beloved of Humans and Celestial Beings
After his father abdicated in order to take up the religious life, Nemiraja ascended the throne in his father’s place. He encouraged all of his subjects to accumulate merit and perform wholesome deeds. All of his subjects were able to live in peace and happiness, and a large number of them were reborn in the Celestial Realm after they died. It was in this way that he became beloved of celestial beings and humans alike. He was especially beloved by the celestial beings of the Tavatimsa Realm. On one occasion, King Sakka of the Tavatimsa Realm sent his driver, Matali, along with his celestial vehicle to earth in order to bring King Nemiraja to the Sudhamma Celestial Hall of the Tavatimsa Realm. King Sakka and other celestial beings wished to hear King Nemiraja teach the Dhamma.
Visiting the Hell Realm and the Celestial Realm
Before going to the Tavatimsa Realm, Matali took King Nemiraja to visit the Hell Realm. The king saw how the hell beings had to undergo such horrific forms of punishment as retribution for the misdeeds committed by them as human beings. Afterward, Matali took him to the Celestial Realm. There, he saw the opulent and magnificent castles of the celestial beings as well as their fabulous celestial wealth as a result of the merit accumulated by them as human beings. Having taught the Dhamma to the glorious celestial beings, he was taken back to the Human Realm. He told his subjects about all that he had seen in the Hell Realm and the Celestial Realm so that they would realize how their actions had consequences. On the day that he spotted a white hair on his head, he decided to take up the religious life. He was the last king to carry on this family tradition. After he died, he was once again reborn in the Brahma Realm.
The Fifth Jataka Story 第五世
The Mahosatha Jataka Story and the Pursuit of Wisdom Perfection 勤修智慧波罗蜜者—玛钬索贤人的故事
In this existence, our Bodhisatta was reborn Mahosatha who pursued Wisdom Perfection to the greatest extent. As Mohosatha, he was able to employ the power of wisdom which had been accumulated over countless existences to solve a myriad of problems. The more he exercised his wisdom, the wiser he became. He was able to turn all of the crises in his life into opportunities such that he could meet with success and prosperity. Being a person of exceptional moral values, he was throughout his lifetime able to help his fellow men to live together in peace and harmony.
Capturing the Attention of the King
Mahosatha was born in a wealthy family living in the village of Pacinayavamajjha. He was born holding in his hand a stick of medicine, which when pulverized could be used to cure different illnesses. It was for these reasons that his father named him “Mahosathakumara” which meant the holder of a stick of medicine which benefited the masses. By the time Mahosatha was seven years old, the reputation of his great intelligence and cleverness had already spread far and wide. King Videharaja, the ruler of Mithila City, wanted Mahosatha to come and work for him at the palace. But the king’s minister, Senaka, feared that Mahosatha would outdo him. So, he did his best to dissuade the king. He advised the king to test Mahosatha’s intelligence in so many ways. But Mahosatha’s ability to pass every test with flying colors caused the king to eventually ask Mahosatha to go and work for him.
The Protective Quality of Wisdom
Mahosatha grew up to be a great sage and beloved by the king and his queen. But his greatness appeared to cast a shadow on the four older royal advisors, and they began to plot against him. Senaka started telling the king different lies about Mahosatha until the king believed that Mahosatha needed to be removed. Mahosatha had to flee for his life to the countryside. Sometime later, he was able to return and prove his innocence. Since he did not want history to repeat itself, he deployed his great intelligence to quell the four royal advisors such that they no longer sought to destroy him. Moreover, Mahosatha was able to save Mithila City from the invasion of King Culani, the ruler of Pancala City such that no blood had to be spilt. As a result, Mahosatha’s reputation spread even further and wider.
Commander-in-Chief of Pancala City
After King Videharaja passed away, his eldest son ascended the throne. Mahosatha took leave of the new king in order to go and work for the King of Pancala City. The reason was that the king had once asked Mahosatha to promise that he would come to work for him after King Videharaja had passed away. King Culani had been deeply impressed by Mahosatha’s incomparable wisdom and virtue. However, King Culani’s wife wanted to avenge Mahosatha for having once taken her as a hostage. She wanted to have him destroyed but to no avail, since the revered female monk came to his aid and caused King Culani to make his great virtue known to all in the city. Eventually, Mahosatha was made Commander-in-Chief with the power to rule the city like a king. He held this lofty position for the rest of his life.
The Sixth Jataka Story 第六世
The Bhuridatta Jataka Story and the Pursuit of Morality Perfection 勤修持戒波罗蜜者—菩利塔的故事
In this existence, our Bodhisatta was reborn a Phya Naga, called Bhuridatta who pursued Morality Perfection to the greatest extent. The pursuit of Morality Perfection requires one to put one’s life on the line in exercising self-restraint physically, verbally, and mentally. It requires one to endeavor to abstain from all forms of unwholesomeness. It requires one to practice the two virtues of Hiri and Ottappa. This story shows how the Phya Naga Bhuridatta had endured ill treatments because he was willing to give up his life in order to keep his morality intact. In other words, he would rather die than commit an unwholesome deed.
Bhuridatta, the Exceptional Phya Naga
In this existence, our Bodhisatta was reborn a Phya Naga called “Datta”. Phya Nagas are sepent-like beings that live in the lower Celestial Realm. He was the son of the Phya Naga King, Dhataratha, the ruler of all the Phya Nagas living under the Yamuna River. He had a human mother who was also a princess by the name of Samudaja. She was the daughter of the ruler of the city of Varanasi, King Brahmadata. Datta the Phya Naga was widely known for his great intelligence and huge intellect. Even the ruler of the Tavatimsa Realm, King Sakka, regularly greeted him with scented items and celestial flowers. King Sakka also gave him a new name, “Bhuridatta”
Risking His Life for the Sake of Precepts Observation
The Tavatimsa Realm and King Sakka’s stupendous wealth impressed Bhuridatta deeply. Realizing that King Sakka’s celestial weath was due to his vast amount of accumulated merit, Bhuridatta wanted to accumulate merit as much and as quickly as possible by observing the Eight Precepts. He also wished to be reborn in the Tavatimsa Realm as quickly as possible because he was no longer satisfied with being a Phya Naga. But the female Phya Nagas would not leave him alone, so he had to go up to the Human Realm in order to observe the Eight Precepts along the bank of the Yamuna River. One day, he was captured by a snake charmer called Alambayana and he was forced to display his supernatural powers in public places for money. He was told to increase or decrease his size, spread his hood, become invisible, etc. In spite of the fact that just one look from him at the snake charmer, and the snake charmer would be turned into cinder, Bhuridatta willingly subjected himself to the ill treatments to ensure that no harm came to his Precepts observation.
Rebirth in the Celestial Realm
When King Brahmadatta of Varanasi heard that a Phya Naga had been caught, he wanted to see it for himself. Bhuridatta’s brother, Sudassana, disguised himself as a Yogi and came to his brother’s aid. It turned out that both Phya Nagas were indeed the nephews of King Brahmadatta. Later, there was a great family reunion of both the human kind and the Phya Naga kind. Bhuridatta continued to observe the Eight Precepts whenever he could. After he died, his wish was realized and he was reborn in the Celestial Realm.
The Seventh Jataka Story 第七世
The Candakumara Jataka Story and the Pursuit of Patience Perfection 勤修忍辱波罗蜜者—詹塔王子的故事
This was the existence where our Bodhisatta was reborn Prince Candakumara who pursued Patience Perfection to the greatest extent. The pursuit of Patience Perfection requires that one patiently work to remove one’s defilements. Patience allows one’s mind to remain calm and imperturbable despite adversity. It allows one to keep calm in the face of praise and blame alike. One is as calm as the ground which does not react to things clean or filthy. In this existence, Prince Candakumara was willing to give up his life in order to keep others from harm. In other words, he would rather die than give in to evil.
Prince Candakumara was the son of King Ekaraja and Queen Candadevi of the city of Pupaphavati. He was an able and kind Viceroy and he was beloved by all of the city inhabitants. One day, he had to reopen a case which had already been judged by Khandahala. His judgment was opposite the one given by Khandahala, and he was widely praised for his fairness. As a result, the king appointed him the new judge. This caused Khandahala to be out of a job and deprived of bribe money, and he was determined to avenge himself on Prince Candakumara.
Putting His Life on the Line to Pursue Patience Perfection
One night, King Ekaraja dreamt that he saw the Tavatimsa Realm which was truly exquisite and fabulous. Upon waking up, he had the deepest desire to be reborn in the Tavatimsa Realm. And he consulted Khandahala about the matter. Khandahala told the king that he had to make an extraordinary sacrificial offering by cutting off the heads of Candakumara, the princesses, the queen and concubines, the millionaires of the city, a certain number of elephants, horses and oxen. And the king agreed to do it. Candakumara and his army could have easily revolted against the king. But he chose to exercise extreme patience. He offered himself up as a slave to Khandahala and asked that everyone else was spared.
During the sacrificial ceremony, as Khandahala was getting ready to cut off Candakumara’s head, Queen Candadevi entreated the Celestial Beings to help her son. This caused King Sakka of the Tavatimsa Realm to appear in midair holding a fiery iron hammer in one hand and a diamond dagger in another. He commanded the king to let all the people and animals go and the king did as commanded. Later, Khandahala was beaten to death by the people. King Ekaraja was banished from the kingdom and Prince Candakumara was asked to ascend the throne.
The Eighth Jataka Story 第八世
The Mahanaradakassapa Jataka Story and the Pursuit of Equanimity Perfection 勤修舍波罗蜜者—大婆罗那的故事
In this existence, our Bodhisatta was reborn in the Brahma Realm as the Brahma Being, Narada, who pursued Equanimity Perfection to the greatest extent. The pursuit of Equanimity Perfection requires that one remain imperturbable whatever the circumstances. One is not perturbed by happiness, unhappiness, gladness, sadness, etc. One is as calm as the ground which does not react to anything, clean or dirty, that is being dumped on it.
A Wrong-Viewed King
King Angatiraja, the ruler of the kingdom of Videha had once been a righteous king whose subjects were able to live in peace and happiness. His father, the late king, was a role model of righteousness for him. As a result, King Angatiraja had practiced the Dhamma since childhood. He had been taught the difference between demerit and merit; what was beneficial and what was harmful. However, on one occasion, he was invited by a wrong-viewed minister to visit the naked ascetic called Gunajivaka. This ascetic taught the doctrine that there were no such things as merit, demerit, the hereafter, the debt of gratitude owed to one’s parents, grandparents and teachers, etc. Ever since the king heard the ascetic’s teaching, his view on life had changed completely. He now wanted to live his life any way he pleased without any regards to moral values and decency.
King Angatiraja had a daughter by the name of Princess Ruca who had a supernatural ability in that she could recall her previous fourteen existences. This special ability was the fruit of meditation practice performed in her previous existences. She tried to convince her father that his new way of living was wrong by recounting the details of her previous existences to him. She wanted to show him that the hereafter existed and so did merit and demerit and that one did reap what one sowed. However hard she tried, she could not convince her father to change his way. Therefore, she made a resolute wish for a righteous monk to come to her father’s aid.
Quelling Wrong View with Equanimity
Princess Ruca’s wish reached the celestial ear of Narada, the Brahma Being in the Brahma Realm. Therefore, he descended to earth and disguised himself as an ascetic. He stood in midair in front of the king and made it known to him that hell and heaven were real. But the king refused to believe him. He made many remarks aimed at irritating and undermining the Brahma Being. He said that the ability to fly was not uncommon. He would also like to borrow 500 pieces of money from the Brahma Being and promised to return to him the sum of 1,000 in the following existence if the hereafter existed. He also said that Narada was a fool. However, nothing the king said could perturb Narada. In complete calm, Narada began to teach the Dhamma to the king until eventually, he was able to change the king’s view. Fearful of the Hell Realm, the king was willing to observe the Precepts and give alms for the rest of his life.
The Ninth Jataka Story 第九世
The Vidhura Jataka Story and the Pursuit of Truthfulness Perfection 勤修真实波罗蜜者—威途拉贤人的故事
In this existence, our Bodhisatta was reborn a sage by the name of Vidhura who pursued Truthfulness Perfection to the greatest extent. The Pali word “Sacca” means truth or truthfulness. A truthful person is a person who keeps his word. He is trustworthy. The pursuit of Truthfulness Perfection requires that one put his life on the line in order to keep his word. In other words, one would rather die than break one’s promise.
Vidhura, the Sage
Vidhura was the royal scholar who served under King Dhananjaya, the ruler of the city of Indapattha. Vidhura was renowned for his sagacity. His fame spread far and wide in both the Human Realm and the Celestial Realm so much so that the Phya Naga queen, Vimala, had the strongest wish to listen to his Dhamma lectures. So she pretended to be sick. She told her husband, the Phya Naga king, Varura, that her sickness could only be cured by a taste of Vidhura’s heart. What she really meant was that she wished to see Vidhura and listen to his Dhamma lectures. But King Varura took what she said literally and told a Yakkha called Punna to bring him Vidhura’s heart on condition that he acquired it in an ethical manner. Punna the Yakkha disguised himself as a man and went into the city to challenge King Dhananjaya in a game of pachisi. Punna used as his bets a magic crystal sphere and a noble steed whereas King Dhananjaya used as his bet everything that he owned except for himself, his wife and his throne. It turned out that King Dhananjaya lost the game, and Punna named Vidhura as his bet payment. But the king refused to comply.
Putting One’s Life on the Line in Order to Keep One’s Truthfulness Intact
King Dhananjaya said, “Vidhura is like my life and soul, I cannot possibly be parted from him.” However, Vidhura thought of himself as the king’s slave and as such should be handed over to Punna now that the king had lost the game. The king was grief-stricken to lose Vidhura and vowed to have Punna killed so that Vidhura could return to him afterward. But Vidhura entreated the king not to do such a thing. Three days later, Punna told Vidhura to hang on to his horse’s tail before it took off into the air. When they arrived at the mountain called Kalagiri, Punna the Yakkha did all he could to kill Vidhura so that he could remove his heart. But tried as he might, he was not successful.
Sticking to His Truthfulness
Having finally had the opportunity to talk at length with the Yakkha, Vidhura realized that Queen Vimala did not really want his heart but what she wanted was his Dhamma knowledge. Vidhura taught Punna the Dhamma until Punna was willing to set him free. But Vidhura insisted that he be taken to the Naga Realm so that he could teach the Dhamma to Queen Vimala. When they arrived at the Naga Realm, King Varuna asked Vidhura how Punna went about acquiring him. Vidhura told him that he was a bet payment after King Dhananjaya had lost the game of pachisi. The king thought how Vidhura could have easily said that Punna forced him to come with him in which case he would be punished by the Phya Naga king. But Vidhura chose to exercise truthfulness. Having taught the Dhamma to the Phya Naga king and queen, Vidhura was allowed to return to the Human Realm. He was escorted back to the city by Punna the Yakkha. Before they parted, Punna gave Vidhura the magic crystal sphere as a parting gift. King Dhananjaya and his subjects were elated at the return of their great scholar, Vidhura.
The Tenth Jataka Story 第十世
The Vessantara Jataka Story and the Pursuit of Generosity Perfection 勤修布施波罗蜜者—威善达的故事
In this existence, our Bodhisatta was reborn King Vessantara who pursued Generosity Perfection to the greatest extent. As King Vessantara, he had given away everything in his life including his wife and children. He practiced generosity in the same way that a water jar is turned completely upside down so that not even a drop of water is left in it. Our Bodhisatta had been pursuing Generosity Perfection for countless existences; but in this existence, he would rather die than keep anything for himself.
Pursuing Generosity Perfection
Prince Vessantara was the son of King Sanjaya and Queen Phusati of the kingdom of Sibi. As soon as the prince was born, he asked his mother for money so that he could give alms. After he ascended the throne, he had six almonries built inside the city. He spent on average 600,000 kahapana a day on alms-giving. One day, he gave away the auspicious elephant, Paccayanaga, to the envoys from the kingdom of Kalinga which had been experiencing severe drought problems. This auspicious elephant had supernatural powers in that it could cause droughts to disappear and return abundance to any land. The people of Sibi were very angry at their king for having given away the auspicious elephant. And they pressured King Sanjaya to banish King Vessantara from their kingdom.
Giving an Enormous Number of Alms
King Vessantara asked only to give alms just one more time before leaving the kingdom. He gave away what was termed “Sattatakamahadana,” which meant giving away 700 each of the seven kinds of alms. Later, he left the city with his wife, Queen Madri and their children, Prince Jali and Princess Kanha for Mount Vongkot. During the journey, he gave away everything including his carriage. With the help of King Cetaraja, the ruler of the kingdom of Ceta, King Vessantara and his family were able to arrive at Mount Vongkot safely. There, King Vessantara took up the religious life as an ascetic and later gave away his son and daughter to a man called Jujaka. He also gave away his wife to another man who happened to be King Sakka in disguise. Giving away one’s wife and children for the sake of Buddhahood is the level of selflessness required of a Bodhisatta.
The Fruit of Selflessness
As Jujaka led the children away, a celestial being caused him to take the wrong turn such that instead of arriving at his hometown, he ended up arriving at the city of Jetutara instead. There, King Sanjaya rescued his grandchildren by paying Jujaka a huge sum of money. In the meantime, the auspicious elephant, Paccayanaga was returned to the kingdom of Sibi. The city inhabitants began to fully appreciate King Vessantara’s incomparable virtues and wanted King Sanjaya to request King Vessantara to return to the city. At the reunion, the royalty and the courtiers were overwhelmed with such emotions that all of them lost consciousness. King Sakka caused the sacred rain to fall on them, and they regained consciousness. King Vessantara returned to his kingdom and continued to be a righteous and selfless ruler for the rest of his life.