Junha Jataka (#456)

temple painting of Junha Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a king. One dark night when he was a prince off studying in Taxila, he accidentally bumped into a brahmin priest, knocking him down and breaking his alms bowl. The Bodhisatta apologized and said he had no money to give him then, but told the priest that if he ever came to his kingdom he could come get some.

Not long after, the Bodhisatta’s father abdicated and gave him the crown. When the priest heard about it he traveled to see him and get compensation for his broken bowl and spilled food. As the Bodhisatta rode his elephant around the city in a solemn procession, the priest called out “Victory to the king!” but the Bodhisatta did not recognize or acknowledge him. So the priest yelled that he had come with cause and priests should not be ignored. This the Bodhisatta heard and he turned his elephant around to go ask what he wanted. The priest explained who he was and asked for five villages, one hundred slave girls, seven hundred cattle, more than one thousand gold ornaments, and two wives of status equal to him. The Bodhisatta did remember the priest and gave him all that he asked for.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The brahmin priest was an earlier birth of Ananda, one of the Buddha’s top disciples. For twenty years various people served as the Buddha’s personal attendant, but one day the Buddha asked his disciples to choose one of them to look after him full-time. Ananda was nominated and he said he would do it under eight conditions, four negative and four positive: “I will attend to the Buddha if he will not give me any of his personal robes, not give me any of his own food, not allow me to sleep in his private chamber, and not bring me to places he is invited, but will go with me when I am invited somewhere, will let me introduce foreigners who come to visit, will allow me to discuss my doubts when they arise, and will repeat his teachings if I miss them because I am away.” The Buddha agreed to them all and Ananda served him faithfully for the next twenty-five years, until the Buddha entered nirvana.

After Ananda was chosen, the Buddha heard some of his disciples discussing the matter and he told them this story so they knew he had also granted wishes to Ananda in the past.

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