Kalyana-Dhamma Jataka (#171)

The Bodhisatta was once a wealthy merchant. While he was out paying his respects to the king, his mother-in-law dropped by the house. She asked her daughter how their marriage was going and if her husband treated her well. The daughter replied that he was more decent and virtuous that most ascetics, but the mother-in-law was hard of hearing and only caught the word ascetic. She yelled out, “Oh dear, why has your husband become an ascetic!” and made a loud fuss that all the neighbors heard. They did not hear the daughter’s calm correction and the gossip spread quickly.

As the Bodhisatta walked back home, a man greeted him and told him about the rumor going around and that his family was in tears over the news. Believing that one must act on lucky words, the Bodhisatta immediately returned to the palace and asked the king’s permission to become an ascetic. Then he left the city and lived out his days in the Himalayas.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

While a nobleman who devoutly followed dharma was visiting the Buddha’s monastery to pay respect and listen to a sermon, his mother-in-law dropped by his house. She asked her daughter how her marriage was going and if her husband treated her well. The daughter replied that he was more decent and virtuous that most ascetics, but the mother-in-law was hard of hearing and only caught the word ascetic. She yelled out, “Oh dear, why has your husband become an ascetic!” and made a loud fuss that all the neighbors heard. They did not hear the daughter’s calm correction and the gossip spread quickly.

As the nobleman walked back home, a man greeted him and told him about the rumor going around and that his family was in tears over the news. Believing that one must act on lucky words, the nobleman returned to the monastery and ordained immediately.

Later, when the Buddha heard other disciples discussing this event, he told them this story so they knew he himself had once done the exact same thing in the past.

The king was an earlier birth of Ananda, one of the Buddha’s top disciples.

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