Sujata Jataka (#306)

temple painting of Sujata Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. One day the king saw a beautiful woman hawking jujube fruit outside the palace and fell in love at first sight. She was unmarried, so he made her his chief queen. Sometime later while the king sat eating jujubes from a golden dish, she asked him what fruit he was eating. The king was furious at her haughty display and told her they were going to divorce and she would go back to working for her family’s fruit business. The Bodhisatta told the king not to be angry, this was normal behavior for women suddenly raised from low to high rank. So the king forgave her and she never acted like that again.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

The king and his jujube-selling queen were earlier births of King Pasenadi, a righteous ruler and devoted supporter of the Buddha, and Queen Mallika, his exceptionally wise chief queen. One time the king was so angry with his queen that he completely ignored her. The Buddha resolved to make peace between them, so he went to collect alms at the palace and when the king served rice and cakes the Buddha covered his bowl. He asked why the queen was absent and the king explained that she had become intoxicated with pride and he didn’t want to be around her. The Buddha said the king, by making her a queen, was the cause of her inflated ego, so it was wrong of him to discard her like this. The king accepted this wisdom, and from then on the couple lived together in happiness.

Later, when the Buddha heard some of his disciples discussing how the Buddha had reconciled the king and queen, he told them this story so they knew he had done the same thing to the same people in the past too.

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