The Mahavastu (great story)

by J. J. Jones | 1949 | 502,133 words | ISBN-10: 086013041X

This page describes jataka of yashoda which is Chapter XL of the English translation of the Mahavastu (“great story”), dating to the 2nd-century BC. This work belongs to the Mahasanghika school of early Buddhism and contains narrative stories of the Buddha’s former lives, such as Apadanas, Jatakas and more..

Chapter XL - The Jātaka of Yaśoda

The monks said to the Exalted One, “Lord, as the maturing of what karma did Yaśoda, the guild-president’s son, who was rich, wealthy, opulent and born in a guild-president’s family, become quick of attainment even as a layman and achieve mastery of the powers?” The Exalted One replied, “Monks, Yaśoda, the guild-president’s son, made a vow to that effect in a former life.”

(414) Once upon a time, monks, long ago, here in the city of Benares, there was a son of a decayed family, who was indigent and poor and made a living by working for others. Now when there are no Buddhas in the world, in the intervals between the Buddhas, there appear in the world Pratyeka-buddhas, who are worthy of offerings, who are splendid in their silence and live in loneliness like a rhinoceros.[1] They train each his own self and attain nirvana. They are worthy of offerings and constitute a field for winning merit.

There was then at that time a Pratyekabuddha named Bhadrika, who, dressing himself betimes and taking his bowl and his robe, neither too early nor too late, when it was time for the morning meal, left Ṛṣivadana and came into the city of Benares to beg for alms. He was well-restrained in body, speech and mind, with steady mindfulness, tranquil of heart, and with his faculties under control.

Now as he went round the city of Benares in quest of alms he was seen by that man from the decayed family. Devas and men were kind and favourably disposed to that man. When he saw Bhadrika the Pratyekabuddha his mind became exceeding trustful. With faith in his heart he took him to his home and provided[2] him with food. He then made a vow, saying, “Inasmuch as there is a root of merit in my having rendered a service to such a worthy man, may I never pass to a sphere of ill, nor go to ruin, nor ever be reborn in poor families. But may I be reborn in families that are rich, wealthy and opulent.”

Then Bhadrika the Pratyekabuddha, being aware of this vow, flew away through the air like a king of swans. And when the man saw Bhadrika the Pratyekabuddha flying through the air like a king of swans, eager to emulate the Pratyekabuddha he made a vow with still greater faith in his heart. “May I,” said he, “come to possess the qualities which this religious man has.”

The Exalted One said, “Monks, this Yaśoda here, the guild-president’s son, at that time and on that occasion (415) was the man of decayed family in this city of Benares. Inasmuch as he did a service to the Pratyekabuddha and made a vow, as a ripening of that karma, therefore, he has never been reborn in spheres of ill or evil plights. But when he passed away from among men he was reborn among devas. Passing away from among the devas he was reborn as a distinguished man, and now here in his last existence he has won the favour of[3] the Tathāgata and attained mastery of the powers.

Here ends the Jātaka of Yaśoda.

Footnotes and references:


See vol. 1, p. 250, n. 1. Add now Edgerton (B.H.S.D.)—“actually the compound (khadgaviṣāṇa) means a rhinoceros”, not its horn.


Or “honoured with”, pratimānita from pratimānayati. There is not sufficient difference between saying “to provide with” and “to honour with”, to warrant regarding this use of the verb as specifically BSk. Cf. Pali paṭimāneti.


Ārāgetvā from ārāgayati. To the note in this word in vol. 2, p. 330, n. 2., has now to be added reference to the long article in B.H.S.D., where Edgerton explains the verb as “a quasi denom. to an unrecorded ārāga cf. āraṅga and ārāgaṇa, but prob. actually formed as a pendant and opposite to virāgayati with which it is often associated; used exclusively as substitute for ārādhayati, which is often... recorded as v.l. for this.”

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