Gahapati Jataka (#199)

temple painting of Gahapati Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a householder. His wife was a wicked woman and she was having an affair with the village headman. The Bodhisatta heard about it and wanted to get proof. A short time earlier, most people’s grain had been washed away by heavy rains and a famine hit the village. The villagers got together and told their headman they would pay him for food in two months when their corn was ready to pick, so he gave them an old ox to eat.

One time when the Bodhisatta was away, the village headman visited the wife at her house. The Bodhisatta returned to town while the headman was still there and his wife saw him approaching. The headman trembled in fear, but the wife quickly devised a plan. She told him to stand in the middle of the room angrily demanding payment for the ox meat while she stood in the doorway of the empty granary crying because she had nothing to repay him with.

When the Bodhisatta entered the house, he wasn’t fooled at all. He told the headman that only half a month had passed since he gave them two months’ time to repay, so he had no reason to come asking. And he told his wife she knew full well the granary was empty, so she had no reason to open it. He seized the headman by his hair and pulled him into the courtyard where he beat him to the brink of unconsciousness before throwing him out of the house. Then he pulled his wife by her hair and threw her to the ground threatening her with a memorable punishment if she ever did any such thing again. From that day forward, the headman avoided the Bodhisatta’s house and the wife never again misbehaved.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

A disciple of the Buddha no longer took joy in his studies or meditation. The Buddha, in helping him find his way again, told him women can never be kept right, they always sin and trick their husbands in some way. Then he told this story to illustrate his point, helping the disciple get back on track.

The Buddha did not identify any earlier births other than his own.

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