Durajana Jataka (#64)

temple painting of Durajana Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a teacher. He was famed across the world and had five hundred students. One of his students was married to a wicked woman—meek as a slave on days when she did something wrong, impulsive and tyrannical on others—and he sometimes missed his lessons on account of the stress she caused him.

When the Bodhisatta learned why the student was absent, he explained to him that this was the nature of all women because they are inherently sinful and wicked. He told the student to stop caring what his wife liked and disliked because women’s nature is as unknowable as the path of a fish through water. The student took the Bodhisatta’s advice to heart, and when his wife heard what the Bodhisatta had said about her, she improved her behavior.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

A layman who was very devoted to the Buddha did not visit for over a week, and the Buddha asked why he had been away so long. He explained that his wife was meek as a slave on days she did wrong, but impulsive and tyrannical on others and she stressed him out immensely. The Buddha told him that he and the same woman had been a married couple with the same issues in earlier births, and then told him this story to give him the same advice about the nature of women and how men should treat them. As he had done previously, the man changed his attitude toward his wife and when she heard what the Buddha had said about her, the wife stopped her bad behavior.

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