Bhuri-Panha Jataka (#452)

temple painting of Maha Ummagga Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. The full account of this lifetime is told in the Maha-Ummagga Jataka (#546) while the Bhuri-Panha Jataka only relates this single incident from that story.

After four of King Vedeha’s advisors framed the Bodhisatta for stealing from the king, he fled to save his life. The goddess that lived in the royal parasol missed hearing the Bodhisatta preach and threatened to kill the king if he did not bring the Bodhisatta back. The terrified king sent men out to find the Bodhisatta, and when one of them did, he was covered in clay from having just finished working at a potter’s wheel. The man, being from the faction of Senaka, the king’s chief advisor, insulted the Bodhisatta for having sunk so low despite supposedly possessing such wisdom, and the Bodhisatta shot back that he would restore his prosperity when the time was right. And the fact that he was needed to answer the goddess’s riddles proved that wisdom is superior to riches.

The Bodhisatta gave his master potter the one thousand coins the king had sent and rushed back to the palace without cleaning himself up. Seeing that the Bodhisatta arrived dirty with neither pomp nor entourage, the king knew he was not a thief or an enemy. To show respect and forgiveness, the king gave him a splendid welcome. Then the king asked why he showed no anger and the Bodhisatta answered this is what wise men do; it would be foolish to cut off a tree branch that shades a man, and the king had been very good to not only him, but also his parents. But, after promising his loyalty, he rebuked the king’s actions and implored him to think carefully before acting in the future.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

One day some of the Buddha’s disciples were discussing his supreme wisdom. In particular, how he had humbled and converted a vast multitude of brahmins, ascetics, thieves, goblins, gods, and more. When the Buddha heard them talking about it, he told them this story so they knew he’d had perfect knowledge in the past too.

King Vedeha was an earlier birth of Laludayi, an elder disciple of the Buddha who was so shy that he could not speak when around more than a single other person, and he often said one thing when he meant another. Senaka was an earlier birth of Saccaka, a Jain who converted to be a disciple of the Buddha, and the other three advisors were Potthapada, Ambattha, and Pilotika, three ascetics who respected the Buddha.

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