Dighitikosala Jataka (#371)

temple painting of Dighitikosala Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a prince. After a king had seized his home and murdered his parents, the Bodhisatta got himself hired as the conquering king’s assistant in order to seek revenge. One time the Bodhisatta was alone with the king in a forest and he grabbed the king’s hair, drew his sword, and yelled, “Now I will cut the killer of my parents into fourteen pieces!” But at that very moment, he remembered that his father had advised against killing. He kept the king in fear for a while, and told him that virtue, not wealth, made life good. He then set the king free and handed him his sword, saying he was ready to die. But the king took the Bodhisatta’s words to heart and did not slay him. Instead, the king swore an oath of friendship and promised to never harm him. He gave the Bodhisatta his daughter as a wife and returned his father’s kingdom to him.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

One of the Buddha’s disciples, an expert in scripture, left a vessel he used for rinsing his mouth in the lavatory. When his roommate, an expert in the monastic rules, saw that it held excess water, he told the first disciple he had done wrong. The errant disciple said he was not aware this was an offense, and he promised to atone for it, but the other disciple explained that if something is done inadvertently there is no infraction. But later, this rule expert criticized the offender to some students and said he had indeed sinned. When the offender heard about being called a sinner, he was angry and called his accuser a liar. Word of this spread and a quarrel broke out, dividing not only the disciples into two sides, but also forming splits among the laypeople on earth and between the gods of heaven. The rules-expert disciple had the other excommunicated, but supporters of the offending disciple rejected this.

Eventually the Buddha heard about this schism and went to solve it. He asked the two sides to sit together, alternating one by one from each side of the debate, and told them the quarreling had to stop. Then he told them this story as an example of how following his parent’s advice in the past led to a harmonious result.

But the disciples did not end their feud, and the frustrated Buddha rose into the air to lecture that wise people do not quarrel, and when fools surround you, you should get away from them. So the Buddha spent three months alone in a forest before returning home. While he was away, the lay followers grew so frustrated at the disciples’ behavior they stopped supporting them, and the disciples had to go to ask the Buddha for forgiveness, which they received.

The prince’s father and mother were earlier births of the Buddha’s father and birth mother.

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