Gahapati Jataka (#199)

temple painting of Gahapati Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a householder. His wife was a wicked woman, and he had heard she was having an affair with the village headman, but he didn’t have proof. A short time earlier, most people’s grain had been washed away by heavy rains, and famine hit the village. The people got together and told their headman they would pay him for food in two months when their crops were ready to harvest, 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 headman was still there when the Bodhisatta returned to town, 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 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 not even half a month had passed since he’d given them two months’ time to repay, so he had no reason to come asking. The Bodhisatta told his wife she knew full well the granary was empty, so she had no reason to get in it. He seized the headman by his hair and pulled him into the courtyard where he beat him to the brink of unconsciousness before tossing 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 home, 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 the disciple that 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, which helped the disciple get back on track.

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

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