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 one for him, but instead was told to travel until he found a name he liked. So the student wandered village to village listening to names. On his trip he saw a man named Quick being carried to the cemetery, a slave girl 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 he 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, he told the Bodhisatta he had learned his lesson and wanted to keep his name.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

One of the Buddha’s disciples was named Wicked. When the Buddha heard he wanted to change his name to a more fortunate one, he told this story to explain that names only tell who is who, nothing more; and it was not the first time this disciple wanted to change his name.

The student was an earlier birth of the dissatisfied disciple and the Buddha’s disciples were his fellow students.

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