The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words

This page describes Discourses Relating the Story of Kappata contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as the Six Princes achieved different Attainments. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).

Part 6 - Discourses Relating the Story of Kappata

Some time after, bhikkhus were gathered at the assembly hall for discussion of the Dhamma and speaking in praise of the Buddha thus:

“Friends, Buddhas are really great and worthy of praise with the snapping of fingers. Even Bhikkhu Nanda, who had almost lost interest in the life of a bhikkhu, has been disciplined by employing the fair maids of the world of devas as an allurement.”

At that moment, the Buddha entered the hall and asked: “Bhikkhus, what kind of discussion are you engaged in as I came into the hall?” “We are assembled here, discussing the marvellous way in which the Buddha has disciplined the Bhikkhu Nanda.”

Whereupon the Buddha said: “Bhikkhus, it is not only in this occasion that I have exhorted Bhikkhu Nanda, by employing a female sex as an enticement, I had also won him over by using the same tactic in the past,” and at the request of the bhikkhus, He expounded the Kappata Jātaka that follows:

Bhikkhus, once upon a time, there was a trader by the name of Kappata in the city of Bārāṇasī during the reign of King Brahmadatta. He had a donkey that could carry a load weighing one kumbha[1] and could travel seven yojanas a day. Once, he went to the city of Taxila accompanying a caravan of merchants carrying merchandise for sale. He set his donkey free to seek for pasture to graze while his goods were being disposed.

As the donkey wandered around grazing on the soft ground near the palace moat, he espied a female donkey and approached it. He eventually got engaged in conversation with the female donkey and the two exchanged words of love:

Female donkey(F.D): From where do you come?

Male donkey(M.D): I come from Bārāṇasī. F.D: On what business have you come?

M.D: I have come for trading purpose.

F.D: What is the weight of the goods that you have to carry?

M.D: I have to carry goods weighing one kumbha.

F.D: How many yojanas have you got to cover carrying such a load in a day?

M.D: I have to cover seven yojanas a day.

F.D: Have you someone to look after you tenderly wherever you go?

M.D: No, I haven't any.

F.D: If so, it’s a pity you have to go about unattended. You must be undergoing great hardships, aren't you?

(She spoke with seductive insinuations to win his heart.) On hearing these seductive words from the female donkey, the male donkey lost interest in his work and remained listless.

After disposing of his merchandise, the trader, Kappata, went to his donkey and said: “Come, dear son, let’s be off.” The animal replied: “You may go by yourself, I cannot follow.” When the trader had made several vain attempts to persuade the donkey to obey him, he decided to use threats to make him obey:

1) Patodam te karissāmi
sañchindissāi te kāyaṃ
evam jānāhi gadrabha

You mean and wicked donkey, I shall have to goad and beat you with a sixteen inches long cane, tipped with iron spikes. I shall have to lacerate your body until it is broken and torn into tatters. Take heed of that.

When the donkey heard this threat, he retorted by saying: “If that should be the case, I, too, have to mind as to how I should retaliate.”

2) Patodam me karissasi
purato patiṭṭhahitvāna
uddharitvāna pacchato
dantaṃ te pātayissāmi
evan jānāti Kappata

O merchant Kappata, if you will actually goad and beat me with a sixteen inches long cane, tipped with iron strikes, I shall stand firmly on my forelegs and raising my hind-legs, kick with all my strength to break and knock off all your teeth to the ground. You might as well know that.

When the trader Kappata heard this bold and aggressive retort of the donkey, he wondered “what was the cause of it” and looking round, he saw a maiden donkey nearby. Then he thought to himself: “This maiden donkey must have taught him to speak like this. It would be wise to allure him away and tell him: “My son, I will get you such a maiden donkey.”

3) Catuppadiṃ sankhamukhiṃ
nariṃ sabbañgasobhiniṃ
bhariyaṃ te ānayissāmi
evam jānāhi gadraha

My big son, I will find a young, beautiful, well-formed maiden donkey with a face as fair as a conch-shell to be your wife soon after our arrival back at Bārāṇasī. My son, you take my word.

The donkey was very pleased with the encouraging words of his master and replied:

4) Catuppadiṃ sankhamukhiṃ
narim sabbangasobhinim
bhariyam me ānayissami
evam jānāhi Kappata
Kappata bhiyyo gamissāmi
yojanāni catuddasa

My benefactor and master, Kappata,.... If it is really true that a beautiful well-formed youthful maiden donkey with a face as fair as a conch-shell will be obtained for me soon after we have returned to Bārāṇasī, I, your good son, am prepared to work with redoubled zeal, breaking a journey of fourteen yojanas a day. You can take my word.

Trader Kappata then took the donkey with him to his home town of Bārāṇasī. A few days after their arrival, the donkey went to Kappata and asked him to fulfil his promise: “My benefactor and master, Kappata, have you not promised me a beautiful well-formed youthful maiden donkey as my wife?” Then trader Kappata replied: “Yes, it is true I have said so; I will not fail to fulfil my promise. I will find you a beautiful, well-formed youthful maiden donkey; but I will be able to provide food for you only (not for your wife). It is up to you to think if the food that I offer you will or will not be sufficient for both of you. And another thing, I wish to emphasise that, in due time, you will have offsprings to look after, and here again, it is for you to consider whether the food which I provide you will be sufficient for your growing family. (It is not my responsibility) Think of it my son.”

As the trader Kappata was giving this sound advice, the donkey’s attachment to the female donkey was severed.

Recounting the Kappata Jātaka in His discourse, the Buddha revealed: “Bhikkhus, the Sakyan Princess Janapada Kalyani then was the maiden donkey, Bhikkhu Nanda then was the donkey and I was then the trader Kappata. I had thus, at a time long past, also disciplined Bhikkhu Nanda with the lure of female sex,” and brought the discourse to conclusion.

End of Kappata Jātaka.

Footnotes and references:


Kumbha: A measure of weights equal to one third of a cart load.

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