The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes The Valodaka Jataka told by The Buddha on His arrival in Savatthi 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 Monk Sudinna, the Son of the Kalanda Merchant. 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 2 - The Vālodaka Jātaka told by The Buddha on His arrival in Sāvatthi

(The previous account of Sudinna the merchant’s son contains the events from the close of the Buddha’s vassa at Verañjā up to his ordination when the Buddha arrived in Vesālī. The events leading to the laying down of the first Parajika rule took place in the eighth year, after Sudinna’s ordination. This should be noted carefully by readers.)

Having stayed thus in Mahāvana, Vesālī, preaching to those worthy of conversion, the Buddha left that city and eventually arrived in Sāvatthi and stayed at Jetavana monastery.

An event then happened, leading to the relation of the story of Vālodaka Jātaka by the Buddha: Five hundred lay devotees in the city of Sāvatthi left their domestic undertakings, wandered in one group with their wives from place to place, listening to the discourses of the Buddha. Among them some were sotāpannas, some were sakadāgāmins and the rest anāgāmins. There was not a single worldling (puthujjana). Those who extended invitation to the Buddha included the five hundred lay devotees in the list of invited monks.

There lived also five hundred young attendants who, while waiting upon the five hundred devotees, ate what was leftover. After eating the leftover food as breakfast, they slept, as they had nothing more to do, and when they woke up they went to the river Aciravatī and wrestled among themselves on the banks of the river, shouting roaringly. Their masters, the five hundred lay devotees, however, did not shout at all but kept quiet and engaged in phala-samāpatti in solitude.

When the Buddha heard the loud noises of the five hundred eaters of leftover food, He asked Venerable Ānanda: “What are these noises, Ānanda?” “These noises belong to the five hundred eaters of leftover food, Exalted Buddha,” replied the Venerable.

Then the Buddha said: “Ānanda, not only now do they eat leftover food and shout roaringly, but in former times too did they do the same thing. Not only now do these five hundred devotees remain quiet but in former times too did they do so.’ As requested by the Venerable Ānanda, the Buddha related the past incident as follows:

“In ancient times when King Brahmadatta was reigning in Bārāṇasī, the Bodhisatta was born into the family of a noble man and when he came of age, he became a counsellor to the King.

One day, hearing of a rebellion in a border area, he harnessed five hundred horses of Sindhava breed and went to the border with the fourfold army. After restoring peace there, he returned to Bārāṇasī and asked his officers to give the horses the syrup made of grapes, saying: ‘These horses are fatigued. Let them have grape drink.’ The officers did as they were told by the King.

The five hundred horses then took the flavoured tasty grape-drinks and went to their stables and stayed quietly in their respective places.

After giving the syrup to the horses, there were a lot of the remains of the grapes without flavour and taste. The officers asked the King: ‘What shall we do with the remains of the grape?’ ‘Comrades,’ said the king, ‘knead them in water and filter them with pieces of coarse cloth made of fibres from marsh date palms and give the water to the mules that carry the food for the horses.’ The officers acted as they were ordered by the King.

The mules, that were the carriers of the food loads, took the filtered secondary juice became intoxicated with pride and they frolicked braying, jumping and running in the courtyard. The King opened the palace window, and looking at the courtyard, he desired to ask the Bodhisatta, the counsellor: “Look, O wise man, after drinking the secondary grape juice, these five hundred mules are intoxicated with pride and frolicked, braying, jumping and running. But the Sindhava horses, after drinking the flavoured and delicious syrup of grapes made no sound: not showing their frolicsome behaviour, they keep quiet.

What is the reason? So he put forth the question in the following verse:

(1) Vālodakaṃ apparasaṃ nihīnaṃ
pitvā mado jāyati gadrabhānaṃ
Imaṃ ca pitavāna rasaṃ paṇītaṃ
mado na sañjāyati sindhayānaṃ

(Wise man!) To the mules that have taken the secondary grape syrup of less taste and poor quality and filtered with a piece of cloth made of fibres from marsh date palms, the intoxication with pride occurred to the mules. Such intoxication does not happened to the Sindhava horses though they have taken the delicious grape juice. (What is the reason?)

In order to give his answer to the King, he uttered the following verse:

(2) Appaṃ pivivāṇa nihīnajucco
so majjatī tena janida phuṭṭho
Dhorayhasīlī ca kulamhi jāto
na majjatī aggarasaṃ pivitvā

Your Majesty! The lowly born mule that has been effected by its insignificant birth becomes intoxicated after drinking an inconsiderable amount of secondary grape syrup. The Sindhava horses that strenuously renders service to the country, though he had taken the sweetest taste of the juice extracted from fresh grapes, is not intoxicated because of his birth in a high family.

(What the verse means to say is that because the mules are inferior by birth, they become intoxicated after drinking less tasty secondary juice. On the contrary the Sindhava steeds, on account of their superiority by birth, do not show conceit or are not intoxicated with conceit though they have taken the primary juice of top taste.)

On hearing the Bodhisatta’s saying, the King had the mules driven out from the courtyard. Taking the Bodhisatta’s advice the King performed meritorious deeds, beginning with almsgiving and passed away to another existence according to his kamma.

Having delivered this sermon of the Vālodaka Jātaka, the Buddha concluded the story thus: “The five hundred mules then have now become the five hundred eaters of leftover food. The five hundred Sindhava horses then have now become the five hundred noble lay devotees. The King of Bārāṇasī then is now Ānanda. The wise counsellor then is now I.”

Here ends the Buddhas relation of the Vālodaka Jātaka.

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