Devatapanha Jataka (#350)

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 Devatapanha Jataka only relates this single incident from that story.

King Vedeha had the Bodhisatta sit on his throne and listen to the goddess living in the royal parasol recite four riddles. The Bodhisatta easily answered them all.

  • “He strikes with hands and feet, beats the face; and he is dearer than a husband.” – A happy child sitting on its mother’s lap playfully beats his mother with hands and feet, pulls her hair, and hits her face with his fist. And the loving mother, unable to restrain her affection, hugs and kisses him.
  • “She abuses him roundly, yet she wishes him to be near; and he is dearer than a husband.” – A young child of seven years, old enough to help with household chores, will ask for a tasty treat when told to go to the field or market, but after getting it refuses to go. The mother yells and threatens to hit him with a stick, so he runs off to play at some relative’s home. Her heart pained and her eyes red from tears, she searches around for her son and squeezes him tight when she finds him.
  • “She reviles him without cause, and criticizes without reason; yet he is dearer than a husband.” – Without reason, a woman will accuse her secret lover of not really caring for her and criticize him over nothing, yet their love grows ever stronger.
  • “One takes food, drink, clothes, and lodging, and good men carry them off; yet they are dearer than a husband.” – Devout people delight in giving alms to religious brahmins who give nothing in return.

Both the goddess and the king rewarded the Bodhisatta with perfumes, flowers, gold, gems, and the like for answering the riddles, and the king elevated him to commander-in-chief.

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.

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