Takka Jataka (#63)

painting of Takka Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic who lived in bliss on the banks of the Ganges River. One of the royal treasurer’s daughters was a terrible person who beat and berated her servants and slaves. One afternoon while they were at the river, a great storm arose and this woman’s attendants pushed her into the river to die. She was swept downstream in the swollen waters and deep in the night the Bodhisatta heard her cries and pulled her out of the water. He took care of her for a few days and after she had recovered she successfully seduced him, causing him to lose his insight. The couple moved to a remote village and made a living selling dates and telling fortunes, so he became known as the Date Sage.

One day a gang of robbers from the mountains raided the village and not only took away all the valuables, their chief took the treasurer’s daughter. The Bodhisatta continued his life in the village hoping she would return some day. But she became very happy with her new life and feared that the Bodhisatta would come take her away, so she schemed to have him killed. She sent a loving message asking the Bodhisatta to come rescue her, and he did. She told him to hide in her house until evening and then they could flee safely.

When the robber chief returned, the woman told him her former husband was hiding in the next room and he went in to beat him. During the merciless attack the Bodhisatta did not cry out, he only said “Ungrateful wretch” over and over. The robber tied him up, and in the morning beat him down once more; and again the Bodhisatta’s only reaction was to repeat “Ungrateful wretch.” The robber was curious about this response and asked the Bodhisatta to explain himself. So he related his tale and the robber chief realized if she could kill a man who had done so much for her, he himself was not safe from her wickedness. So he sliced her in half with his sword and then bathed the Bodhisatta and fed him as much food as he could eat. Eventually the Bodhisatta decided to return to a holy life in the forest and the robber chief chose to go with him. They lived out their years with insight of the higher knowledge and entered heaven after they passed.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

One of the Buddha’s disciples could not overcome the attachment of being attracted to women and the Buddha told him this story to remind him that women were ungrateful, unreliable, dishonest, wrathful, and quarrelsome and that religion was the only path to happiness.

The robber-chief was an earlier birth of Ananda, one of the Buddha’s top disciples.

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