Namasiddhi Jataka (#97)

temple painting of Namasiddhi Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a teacher. One of his many students was named Wicked, and he wanted to change his name to a more fortunate one. He asked the Bodhisatta to choose a name for him, but he refused and instead told Wicked to travel until he found one he liked. Wicked wandered village to village listening to names. On his trip he saw a man named Quick being carried to the cemetery, a slave named Rich being beaten by her master and mistress for not bringing home enough money, and a man named Guide who was lost. And when Wicked commented about the oddity of these names not matching their situations, everybody told him he was a fool for thinking a name did anything more than tell who is who. When he returned home, Wicked told the Bodhisatta he had learned his lesson and wanted to keep his name.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The student was an earlier birth of one of the Buddha’s disciples, who was also named Wicked. When the Buddha heard that this disciple was dissatisfied with his name and wanted to change it to a more fortunate one, he told him this story to explain that names only tell who is who, nothing more, and it was not the first time he had wanted to change his name.

The Bodhisatta’s other students were earlier births of the Buddha’s disciples.

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