The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Jotika, the Rich Householder 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 life Stories of Rich Men with Inexhaustible Resources. 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).

Biography (1): Jotika, the Rich Householder

His Past Existence as A Sugar Cane Planter

In times past, (prior to the time of Buddha Vipassī who appeared ninety-one world-cycles previous to the present world-cycle) there lived in the city of Bārāṇasī two rich brothers who were sugar cane planters and who had a number of workers in the plantation. One day, the younger brother went to the plantation and cut up two stems of cane, one for himself and the other for his brother. He carefully wrapped the ends with leaves so as to contain the juice.

(In those times, sugar-cane did not need to be crushed for its juice but by merely cutting up the stem and hanging it up on one end to let the juice flow down freely.)

On his way home, he met a Paccekabuddha who had just arisen from dwelling in the attainment of Cessation and who, on reviewing the world, saw the younger of the two brothers as the person deserving His blessing since he was in a position to make a meritorious gift. Accordingly, He stood in front of the sugar-cane planter, after having left His Gandmādāna abode by travelling through the air carrying His alms-bowl and great robe. The householder was delighted to see the Paccekabuddha and had great devotion to Him. He asked the revered One to wait a moment on his shawl which he placed carefully on a high spot. Then he requested Him to tilt the alms-bowl to receive the sugar-cane juice which he released by unwrapping the stem of the cane. The juice from one stem filled the alms-bowl.

The Paccekabuddha drank the sugar-cane juice. The householder, having enjoyed much satisfaction in his gift of the juice to the Paccekabuddha, now thought of making a second gift of the cane which he had carried for his elder brother. “I might pay its price to him, or if he refuses payment, perhaps I will share the merit with him,” he thought to himself. He said to the Paccekabuddha: “Venerable Sir, kindly tilt the alms-bowl to receive the juice from another cane.” He filled the alms-bowl with the juice by unwrapping the second cane. (Herein, the younger brother was carrying the cane for his elder brother who did not know about it. By using it as he liked (i.e. by giving it to the Paccekabuddha), it never occurred to him that his elder brother might cut another stem for himself. Such was his honest, simple nature.)

The Paccekabuddha, having taken the juice from the first cane, reserved that from the second one for His other fellow Paccekabuddha. As He remained still seated, the younger brother knew that the Paccekabuddha was not going to take another drink. He made obeisance to Him and said: “Venerable Sir, for this offering of sugar cane juice, may I enjoy sensual pleasure in the deva-world and the human world and ultimately realize the Dhamma that you have realized.” The Paccekabuddha said: “May your wish be fulfilled.” After saying words of appreciation for the offering in two stanzas beginning with these words, He rose into air in the presence of the householder and returned to the Gandamādāna Mountain where He offered the sugar-cane juice to the five hundred Paccekabuddhas. He willed that this good deed be seen by the donor.

After witnessing the miraculous power of the Paccekabuddha, the younger brother went to his elder brother who asked him where he had been. He told him that he had been inspecting the plantation. The elder brother said: “What use of your going on inspection (since you do not even bother to bring some sample.)” The younger brother replied: “Yes, brother, I did bring a cane for you but I met a Paccekabuddha on my way home and offered one cane, that is, the juice from it, to the Paccekabuddha. After that I had an urge to make a further offering with the other cane, which was meant for you. I thought that I would pay you the cost of it, or else I would share the merit with you and made another offering of the juice out of the other cane to the Paccekabuddha. Now, brother, what do you say, would you take the cost of the cane meant for you, or would you share the merit?”

“What did the Paccekabuddha do with your offering?”

“He drank the first offering on the spot, and brought back the second one, which He offered to the five hundred Paccekabuddhas at the Gandamādāna Monastery where He returned by His psychic power.”

The elder brother was thrilled to hear the meritorious deed of his younger brother. He said: “May my good deed, through my brother, results in the realization of the Dhamma which the Paccekabuddha had realized.” And thus while the younger brother aspired to glorious existence in the deva-world and the human world, and then the realization of Nibbāna, the elder brother aspired to arahatta-phala straight away. These were the past aspirations of the two brothers.

Another Round of Existence as Householder Brothers.

The two brothers lived to the full life span of the times. After passing away from that existence they were reborn in the deva realm during the interim period of innumerable years, i.e. an infinite world-cycle between the time of Buddha Phussa and that of Buddha Vipassī. While they were still living in the deva realm, Buddha Vipassī appeared in the world. They passed away from that deva existence and were reborn as two brothers in the family of a householder in Bandumatī. The elder brother was reborn as the elder one and the younger as the younger again. The elder brother was named Sena, the younger, Aparājita, by their parents.

When they came of age, they succeeded to their family estate. As they were managing the family affairs, there arose a clangour of noises throughout the city of Bandumatī such as: “O virtuous persons, the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha have appeared in the world, like the sun and the moon! Give in charity! Perform deeds of merit! Today is the eighth day of the month, an uposatha day. Today is the fourteenth day of the month, an uposatha day. Today is the fifteen day of the month, an uposatha day. Keep the uposatha precepts. Listen to the expositions on the Dhamma.” These exhortations were ringing through the city on the appropriate days. They were made by devout disciples of the Buddha. And the people would piously respond. In the morning, they would make alms-giving and in the afternoon they would go to the Buddha’s monastery to listen His sermons. Sena joined the devotees in going to the Buddha’s monastery to listen to His sermon. He sat at the end of the audience.

Buddha Vipassī knew the devout tendency of Sena the householder and taught a discourse in the (usual) graduated levels beginning from the merit in giving, the merit in morality, and so on. At the end of that discourse, Sena was so enthusiastic about taking up a religious life that he requested the Buddha to admit him into the Order, The Buddha said to him: “Lay supporter, are there relatives whose permission you need to obtained?” “Yes, Venerable Sir, I have,” replied Sena.

“If so, first get their permission.”

Then, Sena went to his younger brother Aparājita and said: “Younger brother, you become the sole successor to our family estate from now.” “But what are you going to do?” Aparājita queried.

“I am going to become a bhikkhu under the Buddha.”

“Dear brother, since the death of our mother, I have regarded you as my mother; since the death of our father, I have regarded you as my father. Our family estate is a vast one. You can do meritorious deeds living in the house. Do not go away (as a bhikkhu).”

“I have heard the Buddha’s sermon. It is not possible to practice the Doctrine as a householder, I must be a bhikkhu now. Stay back, dear brother,” Sena did not allow any further protestations and, leaving behind Aparājita, he went to Buddha Vipassī and was admitted into the Order, first as a novice, and later as a full-fledged bhikkhu. With diligence in the bhikkhu practice, he soon attained arahatship.

Donation of A Private Chamber for Buddha Vipassī

Aparājita the householder celebrated his elder brother’s going forth into bhikkhuhood with big offerings to the Buddha and His Sangha for seven days. Then making obeisance to his elder brother, he said: “Venerable Sir, you have renounced the world for the sake of liberation from the repeated existence. As for me, I have not been able to break the bonds of sense pleasures. Advise me as to what sort of meritorious deed should be performed in a big way.”

“Good, good, you wise man,” said the Venerable, “Build a private chamber for the Buddha.”

“Very well, Venerable Sir,” responded Aparājita.

He procured various kinds of choicest timber, from which he made posts for the building and seven kinds of precious metals were used to embellish each post for building. The roofing also was embellished with the seven kinds of precious metals.

Portico to The Buddha’s Private Chamber donated by Aparājita, Junior

During the construction of the private chamber for the Buddha, Aparājita, Junior, nephew of Aparājita the householder, asked his uncle to allow him to participate in the construction so as to have a share of merit. Uncle Aparājita refused, saying that he could not share the merit with anyone.

Aparājita Junior, being repeatedly refused by his uncle to participate in the construction of the brick monastery, built a separate portico in front of the main building. That Aparājita, Junior, was reborn as Meṇḍaka the householder during the time of Buddha

Gotama. (This story will be told fully later.)

The Grandeur of The Buddha’s Private Chamber and The Landscape Gardening around It

Special features of the brick monastery for use as the Buddha’s private chamber included three big windows ornately finished with seven precious stones. Directly against each of them, Aparājita the householder dug three square lotus ponds of concrete beds which were filled with scented waters, and planted with five kinds of lotus. The idea being to let the fragrant pollen from the lotus flowers to be constantly wafted through the air towards the Buddha.

The pinnacles were plated with gold sheets and its peak was finished in coral. Its roofing was of emerald glass tiles. The pinnacle had the appearance of a dancing peacock with its feathers in full display. The compound of the monastery was filled with seven precious stones to a thickness of knee-deep, some wrought as ornaments, some in their natural state.

Donating The Monastery to The Buddha

When the brick monastery was completed in all its grandeur, Aparājita the householder said to his elder brother, the Venerable Sena: “Venerable Sir, the brick monastery is finished. I would like to see it occupied by the Buddha as his private chamber. That would, I understand, bring me much merit.” The Venerable Sena informed the Buddha about the wish of his younger brother.

Buddha Vipassī rose from His seat, went to the newly built monastery, and seeing the whole compound filled with precious stones up to knee-deep, stood at the entrance. Aparājita the householder invited the Buddha to enter the monastic compound but the Buddha did not move and remained standing at the entrance. Thrice, the householder requested the Buddha to go in, but to no avail. On the third time the Buddha glanced at the Venerable Sena. The Venerable Sena knew from that glance the Buddha' s wish. So he said to his younger brother: “Go to the Buddha and say to the Buddha: ‘Venerable Sir, these precious stones will be solely my responsibility. May the Bhagavā reside here without bothering about them.’ ” Hence, Aparājita the householder went to the Buddha, made obeisance to him, in fivefold contact, and said: “Venerable Sir, just as men would leave the shade of the tree unconcernedly, or ferry across a river without thinking about the ferryboat they have used, so also, may the Bhagavā enter and stay in the monastery unconcerned about these precious stones.”

(The Buddha refused to enter the monastic compound because of the precious stones. The Buddha’s monastery was open door to all visitors, coming in the mornings as well as in the afternoon. The Buddha could not keep watch and ward over the precious stones. Hence the Buddha considered: “If visitors take them away and the Householder Aparājita might put the blame on me for the loss he would be incurring grave consequences leading to the four miserable states (apāya), These considerations made the Buddha refuse to enter.)

When Aparājita made it clear that precious stones should not bother the Buddha for they were the sole responsibility of the donor (Aparājita) only, the Buddha agreed and entered the monastery. The donor placed some watchmen at the monastic compound with the words: “O men, if visitors were to collect these precious stones inside pockets or baskets, or sacks, you must prevent them form doing so but, if they were to grab them in their hands only, let them do so.”

Aparājita let every household in the city know that he had strewn about precious jewels up to knee-deep inside the monastic compound of the Buddha’s Private Chamber, and invited all and sundry who had listened to the Buddha’s sermon to take them. The poor were expected to take two fist-full while the rich should take only one fistful. The householder’s idea was to give incentive to those who had no natural inclination to go to the Buddha’s monastery and attend the sermons and thus help them towards emancipation. He had also the good will to extend his gift to the naturally inclined devotees.

The people abided by the donor’s stipulation about the gifts at the Buddha’s monastery: The poor enjoying two fistfuls of the treasures, the rich only one fistful. When the precious stones were exhausted, a second round up to knee-deep, were strewn about. And when the second was exhausted, the third round followed.

An important event then occurred. Aparājita had a strong idea: he wanted visitors to the Buddha to take delight in watching the golden rays emitted by the Buddha, side by side with the glow emitted by a ruby of priceless quality, of the size of a bitter cucumber which he had placed at the Buddha’s feet. The people enjoyed the wondrous sight of the two kinds of rays as desired by the householder.

The Ruby is stolen by A Brahmin amidst Everyone Present

One day, a brahmin, who was a non-believer in the Buddha, went before the Buddha with the intention of stealing the ruby. From the time he went close to the Buddha, past the audience, Aparājita had an inkling of the brahmin’s evil intent. “O, how good it would be if this brahmin would not snatch away my ruby!” he thought to himself.

The brahmin pretended to make obeisance to the Buddha, stretching out his hands towards the Buddha’s feet and suddenly snatched the ruby, hid it in the fold of his lower garment, and left. Aparājita the donor of the great monastery, could not stand the brazenness of the brahmin. When the Buddha had ended His discourse, he approached Him and said: “Venerable Sir, I had strewn the monastic compound with precious stones up to knee-depth for three times, and had no grudge against those people who took them away. In fact, I was pleased with my own gift-making. But today I had forebodings about the brahmin’s visit to the Bhagavā and had wished that he would not steal the ruby. My foreboding have been proved correct. I cannot keep my mind calm and clear.”

Aparājita’s Aspiration as suggested by The Buddha

Buddha Vipassī said to Aparājita: “Lay Supporter, it is possible for one to prevent pilferage of one’s property, is it not?”

Catching the meaning of the Buddha’s broad hint, the householder made obeisance to the Buddha and made his aspiration in these terms:

“Venerable Sir, from today onwards, let no one, be they a hundred kings or robbers, be able to rob me, or in any way dispossess me of any of my property, be it as trifling as a strand of thread. Let no fire burn my property. Let no flood wash away my property.”

And the Buddha said: “May all your wishes be fulfilled.” Aparājita held great celebrations to mark the donation of the grand monastery. For nine whole months he offered food to 6.8 million bhikkhus at the monastery. On the day of libation, he donated a set of three robes to each of the bhikkhus. The junior-most bhikkhu received, on that occasion, the robe-material worth a hundred thousand.

His Last Existence as Jotika The Householder

When Aparājita passed away afterlife time of meritorious deeds, he was reborn as a deva. And for ninety-one world-cycles he was never reborn in the four miserable states. During the time of Buddha Gotama, he was reborn in the family of a rich householder. After nine and a half months of conception in his mother’s womb, on the day he was born, all weaponry in Rājagaha blazed like flames, and all jewellery worn on the person of the citizens gleamed like the glow of the sun, so that the whole city was glowing.

The householder, who was the father of the boy, went to see the King. King Bimbisāra asked him:

“Householder, today all weaponry are blazing and the whole city is glowing. Do you know what has caused this.”

“Yes, I do, Great King,” replied the householder.

“What is it?”

“A new Royal servant of your Majesty was born in my house. It is due to the great past merit of my infant son that this strange phenomenon has happened.”

“How is it, householder? Is your son going to become a robber?”

“No, Great King, he will not become a robber. He is endowed with vast past merit.” “In that case, bring him up with care. Let him have a thousand ticals of money for his nursing.”

From then onwards, the King gave a thousand ticals every day towards the boy’s upkeep. On the day of the boy’s naming, he was given the name ‘Jotika (the Luminous Boy)’, signifying the glow that marked his birth.

Sakka’s Creation of Jotika’s House

When Jotika came of age, his parents cleared a site for building a house for him, At that moment, Sakka’s crystal seat warmed up by way of signalling some event that called for his attention. He reviewed the world and saw that people were marking out a site for building a house for Jotika. Sakka thought to himself: “This man Jotika is no ordinary man who has to live in a house built by human hands. I must see to his proper residence,” and he descended to the human world in the guise of a carpenter. He asked the men at the site: “O men, what is this all about?”

“We are pegging out the house to be built for Jotika’s residence.”

“Then, make way O men, Jotika is not the kind of man who has to live in a house built by human hands.”

So saying, he intently looked at a stretch of land that was sixteen karisas wide. (One karisa = 1¾ acre.)

(1) The land became flat and smooth like a piece of meditation device for meditating on the Earth Element.

(2) Then, Sakka, looking intently at the chosen site, willed in his mind: “Let there arise, opening up the earth, a seven-tiered mansion finished with seven kinds of precious stones,” and instantly a seven-tiered mansion complete with seven kinds of precious stones arose opening up the earth.

(3) Next, Sakka, looking intently at the mansion, willed in his mind: “Let there appear seven walls finished with seven kinds of precious stones around the mansion,” and instantly the seven walls appeared around the mansion.

(4) Next, Sakka, looking intently at the walls, willed in his mind: “Let there appear wishing trees inside each of the seven walls,” and instantly there appeared wishing trees inside each of the seven walls

(5) Next, Sakka, looking intently at the mansion, willed in his mind: “Let there appear four gold jars full of precious stones at each of the four corners of the mansion,” and his wish materialized. (In this connection, Jotika’s four treasure jars are different from the treasure jars that usually appeared for Bodhisattas, in that in the latter case, the four jars were of various sizes at their mouths varying from one yojana in diameter, three gāvutas (i.e. 3/4 yojana), two gāvutas (i.e. 1/2 yojana), and one gāvuta (i.e. 1/4 yojana);they had their bottoms reaching down to the base of the great earth. In the former case, the size of the mouths of the jars is not mentioned in the old Commentaries, but they contained jewels about the size of Palmyra fruits whose faces were cut off.)

(6) At the four corners of the great mansion, four sugar cane plants of solid gold appeared, each with a stem the thickness of a Palmyra tree. The leaves of the trees were emerald. These trees bore witness to Jotika’s immense past merit.

The seven entrances to the seven walls were guarded by seven yakkha generals with their armies, namely, (i) at the first gate, Yāma Koḷī was in charge with one thousand yakkhas under him;(ii) at the second gate, Uppala was in charge with two thousand yakkhas under him; (iii) at the third gate, Vajira was in charge with three thousand yakkhas under him, (iv) at the fourth gate, Vajirabāhu was in charge with four thousand yakkhas under him; (v) at the fifth gate, Kasakanda was in charge with five thousand yakkhas under him; (vi) at the sixth gate, Katattha was in charge with six thousand yakkhas under him and (vii) at the seventh gate, Disāmukha was in charge with seven thousand yakkhas under him.

King Bimbisāra makes Jotika Royal Treasurer

When King Bimbisāra heard the news of the Jotika phenomenon comprising the arising through the earth of the bejewelled seven-storied mansion, the seven walls and its great gates, and the appearance of the four great gold jars, etc. he made him the Royal Treasurer, with all the paraphernalia of the office such as, the white Umbrella, etc. sent to him. From that time, Jotika was widely known as the Royal Treasurer.

Devas send Sakulakāyī of The Northern Island Continent as A Bride for Jotika

The lady who had been Jotika’s partner in doing meritorious deeds in the past now happened to be reborn in the Northern Island Continent. The devas took the lady, named Sakulakāyī, from her native Island Continent and installed her at Jotika’s seven-stories mansion. She brought with her a small measure of rice and three crystals with heat potential in them. This quantity of rice and the three stones provided all the cooked food throughout their lives. The small vessel that contained original rice could contain any quantity of fresh rice, even as much as a hundred cart-loads of them could be poured into it!

When the rice was to be cooked, it was put into a cooking pot and placed on the three crystals, which served as a fireplace and which glowed with heat until the rice became properly cooked and then the glow faded out. When curries and other dishes were cooked, the three crystals worked on the same purpose. Thus the Jotika couple never had the use of fire for cooking. For lighting as well, they never used fire because they had emerald and rubies that glowed and gave sufficient light.

The great opulence of Jotika became well-known throughout the whole of the Southern Island Continent and people thronged to his mansion to admire it. Some came from afar using carts and other vehicles. Jotika entertained them to the special quality rice that grew only in the Northern Island Continent which was cooked on the three crystals. He also asked his visitors to take away whatever they fancied at the Wishing Trees. Further, he would ask them to take away gold, silver and jewels from the gold jar whose mouth was one quarter of a yojana wide. All visitors from the Southern Island Continent enjoyed Jotika munificence. It is especially remarkable that the gold jar never deplete even for an inch but always remained full to its brim. This wonderful phenomenon was the result of Jotika’s munificence in his past life as Aparājita (during the time of Buddha Vipassī) when he let the visitors to the Buddha’s monastery to take away seven types of precious metals and precious stones strewn about the precincts of the monastery at knee-depth repeatedly for three times.

King Bimbisāra visited Jotika’s Mansion

King Bimbisāra wanted to go and see Jotika’s mansion but, during the earlier period, when there were many visitors making their visits and enjoying the munificence of Jotika, the King did not go there. Only when most people had been there and there were only a few visitors, the King gave word to Jotika’s father that he would pay a visit to Jotika’s mansion. The householder told his son about the King’s intention, and Jotika said the King would be welcome. King Bimbisāra went to Jotika’s mansion with a big retinue. When he met a maid-servant who was a sweeper and refuse-thrower (scavenger) at the first entrance, she extended her hand to the King as a welcoming gesture, but the King mistook her to be the wife of the Treasurer Jotika and out of shyness did not hold her hand. At the later entrances too, although the maid-servants extended their hands to the King, the King did not hold their hands for the same reason. (Thus it is to be seen that at Jotika’s residence even maid-servants had the appearance of the wives of the Treasurer.)

Jotika welcomed the King and after saluting him, followed him. The King dared not step on the emerald flooring which seemed to him like a deep chasm. He had doubts about Jotika’s loyalty, for he thought that his Treasurer was plotting against him by digging a great pit. Jotika had to prove his innocence by saying: “Great King, this is no pit. Let me go ahead and would your Majesty come after me?” Then only the King found that everything was well. He inspected the mansion, from the emerald flooring upwards at the great mansion.

(Prince Ajātasattu’s nefarious thoughts: At that time, the princeling Ajātasattu was by his father’s side, holding to his hand. It occurred to young Ajātasattu thus: “How foolish my father is! For he lets his subject enjoy greater style of life than himself. The man of inferior caste is living in a bejewelled mansion while the king himself lives in a palace built of timber. If I were king, I would never, for a day, allow this rich man to live in this mansion.”)

Even while the King was inspecting the grandeur of the upper stories, his meal time arrived. He said to Jotika: “Treasurer, we shall have our morning meal here.” Jotika replied: “I know Great King, I have made arrangements for it.”

Then King Bimbisāra took a bath with sixteen potfulls of scented water. He sat on the seat usually used by Jotika. He was offered some water to wash his hands. Then a bowl of thick milk-rice was placed before him in a golden bowl, which was worth a hundred thousand ticals. The King thought it to be a course of his meal and prepared to take it. Jotika said to him: “Great King, this is not for eating. It is placed here to warm the rice that is to come.” The attendants of Jotika brought the rice cooked from the special rice from the Northern Island Continent in another golden bowl, which was worth a hundred thousand ticals. They put the rice bowl above the bowl of milk-rice which provided constant steamy heat to the rice, thereby making it palatable throughout the meal.

The King relished the delicious rice brought from the Northern Island Continent so much so that he did not know when to stop eating. Jotika said to him after saluting him: “Great King, that should be enough. If you eat more you will not be able to digest it.” The King said: “Are you making much of your rice?” Jotika replied: “Not at all, Great King. For I am feeding the same rice to all members of your retinue. I only fear disrepute.”

“What kind of disrepute?”

“If due to much eating of this food, which is especially nutritious, Your Majesty would feel lethargic on the next day, then people might say that I had fed you with this food and that I might have drugged you in the food.”

“In that case, clear the table. Give me the drinking water.”

After the King had finished his meal, all the members his retinue were fed with the same rice.

Sakulakāyī attended on The King

Then, a friendly exchange of pleasantries took place between the host and his King, whereupon the latter inquired after the wife of the host.

“Don't you have a wife in your household?”

“Yes, Your Majesty, there is my wife.”

“Where is she now?”

“She is sitting in our private chamber. She does not come out because she does not know that Your Majesty has come.” (This was a fact.)

Jotika thought it only proper that his wife should come and meet the King and went to his wife, saying: “The King is paying us a visit. Ought you not see him?”

Sakulakāyī in her reclining posture in their private chamber, replied: “My Lord, what sort of person is a king?”

“The King is the person who rules over us.” Sakulakāyī was not pleased to learn that and did not want to hide her displeasure. So she said: “We had done meritorious deeds in the past in a wrong way. That is why we are being ruled over by someone. Our volition in the past in doing good deeds was not genuine so that although we are wealthy we are born as subjects to someone. Our gifts must have been made without conviction about the law of action and its resultant. Our present state of being subjects of some ruler is the result of our practice of charity in a sham conviction. But now, what is expected of me?”

Said Jotika: “Bring the palm-leaf fan and fan the King.”

Sakulakāyī obediently did as she was told. As she sat fanning the King, the odour that wafted from the King’s head-dress hurt her eyes and tears flowed from them. The King, seeing her tears, said to Jotika: “Treasurer, womenfolk are short of wisdom. She is weeping probably because she thinks the King was going to confiscate your property. Tell your wife that I have no design on your property. Let her mind be set at ease.”

Jotika made A Gift of A Big Ruby to The King

Jotika said to the King: “Great King, my wife is not weeping.”

“But, why, then do those tears flow from her eyes?”

“Great King, the odour coming from your Majesty’s head-dress hurts her eyes, and so the tears come out. She has a most delicate constitution. She has never used fire in her everyday existence. She gets heat and light from crystals and gems. As for Your Majesty, you are used to the light of oil lamps, I presume.”

“That’s true, Treasurer.”

“In that case, Great King, from now on, may Your Majesty live by the light of a ruby.” And he presented the King with a priceless gem, the size of a bitter cucumber. King Bimbisāra studies Jotika’s mansion closely and, uttering his sincere comment: “Great indeed is Jotika’s wealth,” and he departed.

Jotika’s Emotional Religious Awakening and Arahatship

Later on, Prince Ajātasattu, under the evil influence of Devadattha, imprisoned his own father, King Bimbisāra, and made him unable to walk inside his cell by cutting open his soles and exposing the wounds to burning charcoals, and starved him to death. This, he did to usurp the throne. No sooner had he ascended the throne, he took his big army to confiscate Jotika’s mansion by force. But, as his army got in front of the jewelled wall, the reflection of his own forces on the wall looked as if the guards of Jotika were about to attack him, and he dared not go near the wall.

Jotika was observing the uposatha that day. He had finished his meal early in the morning and gone to the Buddha’s monastery where he listened to the Buddha’s sermon. Thus, while Ajātasattu was burning with greed, Jotika was enjoying the serenity of the Buddha’s company.

Moral: “Just as foolish ones, ruffians blinded by inordinate greed, fret and fume and torment themselves, the wise one, cherishing the Dhamma, find mental happiness and physical ease.”

When King Ajātasattu’s army approached the first wall of Jotika’s mansion, Yamakoḷī, the guardian deva of the gate raised a fierce alarm: “Now, where will you escape?” and routed the King’s army which fled in confusion in every direction. Ajātasattu ran towards the Buddha’s monastery in a haphazard manner.

When Jotika saw the King, he rose and went to him and asked: “Great King, what’s up?” The King said furiously: “You detailed your men to fight me while you come here and pretend to be attending to the Buddha’s sermon. How is that?”

“Great King, did you go to my place to confiscate it by force?” inquired Jotika.

“Yes, I did,” said the King angrily.

Jotika coolly said to him: “Great King, (not to speak of yourself alone) a thousand monarchs will find it impossible to take my place by force without my consent.” “Are you going to be the king?” He felt greatly insulted by Jotika’s remarks.

But Jotika replied coolly: “No, no, Great King. No one can take any of my property, not even a strand of thread, without my consent. And that includes kings.”

“I am the King. I can take whatever you possess whether you consent or not.”

“In that case, Great King, here are twenty rings around my fingers. I do not give them to you. Now, try and take them.”

Ajātasattu was a man of great physical prowess. He could leap up, while sitting, to a height of eighteen cubits and while standing, up to a height of eighty cubits. He attempted to remove the rings from Jotika’s fingers but was unable even to get one. His kingly dignity was thus gravely impaired. Jotika now said to him: “Great King, if you would spread out your dress, I will show you.” And he straightened his fingers towards the King’s dress, which was spread in front of him, and all the twenty rings readily dropped onto it. He said: “Great King, you have seen for yourself that Your Majesty cannot confiscate my property against my wish.” He was greatly edified by the encounter with the King. An emotional awakening arose in him and he said to the King: “May Your Majesty allow me to become a bhikkhu.”

The King thought that if he renounced his home life and become a bhikkhu, his great mansion would easily fall to his hand; so he allowed the request promptly. Jotika was admitted into the Order at the feet of the Buddha. Not long afterwards, with due diligence, he became an arahat and became known as Thera Jotika. At the instant of his attaining arahatship, all his great mansion and other items of wealth suddenly disappeared. His wife Sakulakāyī was sent back by the deva to her native place, the Northern Island Continent.

One day, some bhikkhus asked the Venerable Jotika: “Friend, do you have attachment to the great mansion and Sakulakāyī?” The Venerable replied: “No, friend, I do not have any attachment.” The bhikkhus went to the Buddha and said: “Venerable Sir, Bhikkhu Jotika falsely claims arahatship.”

Then, the Buddha said: “Bhikkhus, it is true that there is no attachment to the great mansion and his wife in the mental state of Bhikkhu Jotika, an arahat.”

Further the Buddha spoke this verse:

“He, who in this world has given up craving (that arises at the six sense doors) and has renounced the home-life to become a bhikkhu, who has exhausted craving for existence, and made an end of all forms of existence, him I call a brāhmana (one who has rid himself of all evil).

By the end of this discourse a large multitude of people attained Path-Knowledge at the various levels.

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