Sirikalakanni Jataka (#382)

temple painting of Sirikalakanni Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a merchant. He lived a thoroughly righteous life, giving charity and observing the holy days, and so did his family and all his workers. He kept a special couch and bed in his home specifically for use if anyone with purer morals than he ever visited.

One time daughters of the gods of the East and West went to bathe in the sacred Lake Anotatta at the same time. They quarreled over who should get to bathe first, each believing they were more worthy than the other. Unable to agree, they asked their fathers to choose. But they couldn’t decide and so they asked the gods of the North and South who passed the matter to Indra, king of the gods, who also refused to settle the dispute. Indra told the two daughters to visit the Bodhisatta at his home and whichever of them was offered his couch and bed would be the one worthy of bathing first.

The first goddess put on a blue (the unlucky color) dress and jewelry and dove down from heaven as if shot from a catapult. She stood in the air above the Bodhisatta, who asked who she was and what she wanted from him. He then asked her about the type of people she associated with and she answered honestly that her friends were unruly, miserable, greedy, dishonest, cruel, arrogant, and the like. Thinking she was both wicked and ugly, the Bodhisatta sent her away.

Then the second goddess came bathed in golden hue and stood respectfully by the Bodhisatta. He asked her the same questions and she told him she loved people who were mild mannered, responsible, friendly, honest, and kind. Pleased by her words and demeanor, the Bodhisatta invited her to stay the night using his special couch and bed. In the morning, she returned to heaven and bathed in the lake.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

One day the Buddha heard some disciples discussing whether Anathapindika, a wealthy supporter of the Buddha known for his extreme generosity, was also virtuous at home. The Buddha told them Anathapindika and his entire household lived righteously, and then he told this story of his own past life when he also kept a pure household.

The superior goddess was an earlier birth of Uppalavanna, one of the Buddha’s top female disciples.

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