Kosiya Jataka (#130)

temple painting of Kosiya Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a teacher. He was famous around the world and the sons of wealthy nobles from far and wide came to study with him. One of his students, who had already learned the three Vedas and the eighteen sciences, had a wicked wife. She lay about their house claiming to be ill and unable to work, but the moment her husband went out she was in the arms of her lovers. Her husband, not knowing the truth, served her like a slave, bringing her rich foods and sweets, and tried to help her get better.

Because he took care of her, he was unable to visit the Bodhisatta for lessons. When he did see the Bodhisatta again, he explained the reason for his long absence. The Bodhisatta, knowing the truth about the woman, told his student that he could “cure” her by preparing a medicine from five kinds of fruit pickled in cow urine in a copper pot. Then he would tell her she had to either take the medicine or work for her food. If she refused the medicine, he was to threaten to grab her by the hair and drag her around while beating her. The man did as told, and at first she refused it. Then she realized the Bodhisatta knew what she was up to, so she repented and became a good wife.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

A lay follower of the Buddha had not been to the monastery in a long time. When he visited again, he explained to the Buddha that he was very busy caring for his sick wife who looked healthy, but said she was not getting better. The Buddha knew she was feigning illness when her husband was around and jumping into the arms of her lovers when he was gone, and that he and his wife had been through the exact same situation in earlier births. The Buddha told him this story to explain how to stop her wicked behavior.

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