Varuni Jataka (#47)

painting of Varuni Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a royal treasurer. One day a tavernkeeper who lived under the Bodhisatta’s protection left his apprentice in charge of the bar while he went off to bathe. The apprentice saw that the customers liked to eat salt before drinking, so he put some in the grog, ruining the whole batch and angering the customers. After the tavernkeeper told him this story, the Bodhisatta explained that this was an example of how ignorant people who desire to do good end up doing harm.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

One time Anathapindika, a wealthy supporter of the Buddha known for his extreme generosity, was visiting. He told the Buddha a funny story about his friend, a tavernkeeper. He had once gone to bathe and left his apprentice in change. The apprentice mixed salt in with the liquor thinking the customers would like it. Of course they didn’t, and when the tavernkeeper returned a short time later, there were no customers.

The Buddha told Anathapindika this story so he knew that his friend’s tavernkeeper apprentice had also been a tavernkeeper apprentice in an earlier birth and had spoiled liquor in exactly the same way.

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