Dhammapada (Illustrated)

by Ven. Weagoda Sarada Maha Thero | 1993 | 341,201 words | ISBN-10: 9810049382 | ISBN-13: 9789810049386

This page describes The Story of Kumbhaghosaka, the Banker which is verse 24 of the English translation of the Dhammapada which forms a part of the Sutta Pitaka of the Buddhist canon of literature. Presenting the fundamental basics of the Buddhist way of life, the Dhammapada is a collection of 423 stanzas. This verse 24 is part of the Appamāda Vagga (Heedfulness) and the moral of the story is “Mindful and striving, pure, restrained and righteous, man advances to fame and prosperity”.

Verse 24 - The Story of Kumbhaghosaka, the Banker

Pali text, illustration and English translation of Dhammapada verse 24:

uṭṭhānavato satimato sucikammassa nisammakārino |
saññatassa ca dhammajīvino appamattassa yaso'bhivaḍḍhati || 24 ||

24. Assiduous and mindful, pure kamma making, considerate, restrained, by Dhamma heedful living, for one such spreads renown.

Glory Of The Mindful Increases‌‌
Mindful and striving, pure, restrained and righteous, man advances to fame and prosperity.

The Story of Kumbhaghosaka, the Banker

Residing at Veluvana Monastery, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to Kumbhaghosaka, the banker. At one time, a plague epidemic broke out in the city of Rājagaha. In the house of the city banker, the servants died on account of this disease; the banker and his wife were also attacked by the disease. When they were both infected with the disease they told their young son Kumbhaghosaka to leave them and flee from the house and to return only after a long time. Also, they told him that at such and such a place they had buried a treasure of great worth. The son left the city and stayed in a forest for twelve years and then came back to the city. By that time, he was quite a grown up youth and nobody in the city recognized him. He went to the place where the treasure was hidden and found it was intact. But he reasoned and realized that there was no one who could identify him and that if he were to unearth the buried treasure and make use of it people might think a young poor man had accidentally come upon buried treasure and they might report it to the king. In this case, his property would be confiscated and he himself might be manhandled or put in captivity. So he concluded it was not yet time to unearth the treasure and that meanwhile he must find work for his living. Dressed in old clothes Kumbhaghosaka looked for work. He was given the work of waking up and rousing the people to get up early in the morning and of going round announcing that it was time to prepare food, and time to fetch carts and yoke the bullocks.

One morning, King Bimbisāra heard him. The king who was a keen judge of voices commented, “This is the voice of a man of great wealth.” A maid, hearing the king’s remark sent someone to investigate. He reported that the youth was only a hireling of the labourers. In spite of this report the king repeated the same remark on two subsequent days. Again, enquiries were made but with the same result. The maid thought that this was very strange, so she asked the king to give her permission to go and personally investigate. Disguised as ordinary folk, the maid and her daughter set out to the place of the laborers. Saying that they were travellers, they asked for shelter and were given accommodation in the house of Kumbhaghosaka just for one night. However, they managed to prolong their stay there. During that period, twice the king proclaimed that a certain ceremony must be performed in the locality of the laborers, and that every household must make contributions. Kumbhaghosaka had no ready cash for such an occasion. So he was forced to get some gold coins from his treasure. As these coins were handed over to the maid, she substituted them with her money and sent the coins to the king. After some time, she sent a message to the king asking him to send some men and summon Kumbhaghosaka to the court. Kumbhaghosaka, reluctantly, went along with the men. The maid and her daughter also went to the palace, ahead of them.

At the palace, the king told Kumbhaghosaka to speak out the truth and gave him assurance that he would not be harmed on this account. Kumbhaghosaka then admitted that those Kahāpanas (gold coins) were his and also that he was the son of the city banker of Rājagaha, who died in the plague epidemic twelve years ago. He further revealed the place where the treasure was hidden. Subsequently, all the buried treasure was brought to the palace; the king made him a banker and gave his daughter in marriage to him. Afterwards, taking Kumbhaghosaka along with him, the king went to the Buddha at the Veluvana Monastery and told him how the youth, though rich, was earning his living as a hireling of the laborers, and how he had appointed the youth a banker.

Explanatory Translation (Verse 24)

uṭṭhānavato satimato sucikammassa nisammakārino
saññatassa ca dhammajīvino appamattassa yaso abhivaḍḍhati

uṭṭhānavato [uṭṭhānavata]: steadfast; satimato [satimata]: attentive; sucikammassa: pure in action and behaviour; nisammakārino [nisammakārina]: careful in all activities; saññatassa: well restrained; ca: and; dhammajīvino [dhammajīvina]: leading a righteous life; appamattassa: mindful person; yaso: glory; abhivaḍḍhati: increases greatly.

If a person is persevering, attention focussed within, if his physical and spiritual actions are unblemished, if he is restrained and if he is living in accordance with the Teaching and is sane, his glory will grow.

Commentary and exegetical material (Verse 24)

uṭṭhānavato: an individual, who is alert and energetic, and is not lethargic. He continues on the path of truth-seeking without flagging and with steadfast endurance.

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