Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C. B. Varma Introduction | Glossary | Bibliography

040 – Chullabodhi – The Conqueror of Anger

The Woman ascetic engrossed
in meditation, Ajanta

Once the Bodhisatta was born in an erudite family and became a scholar of great fame. His name was Chullabodhi. As he remembered his past lives and the fruits of the life of a recluse, therefore, he one day, renounced the worldly life and became an ascetic. His wife, a well accomplished lady, too, resolved to follow him and accompanied him wherever he went despite all discouragements and persuasions. She happily accompanied him even in the cemeteries, desert houses, mountains, the forests infested with wild animals and so on. Thus, several years passed.

Once, in a gorgeous sunny day of spring when the groves and gardens were in their full bloom; the cuckoos were singing; and the soft and silky wind was wafting the aroma of the fully blossomed flowers, Chullabodhi, seated in front of his forest hermitage was sewing his pamsakula (rags of an ascetic) and his elegant semi-clad wife was meditating under a tree. The king of the country then spotted them and stopped there. He was particularly attracted to the chiselled beauty of the woman flashing through her birch garments. He, instantly thought of abducting her. But taking a note of the presence of the male ascetic and remembering some old tales of the supernatural powers of the ascetics he initially exercised restraint. So, to examine the power of the ascetic he asked him as to how would he defend the woman if a thief or a wild animal were to attack her. Chullabodhi answered him coolly “I would not release him”.

The king, who did not bother to comprehend the message hidden in the sentence hastily inferred that the ascetic had no supernatural power. So, he thought that it would be easy for him to take away the woman. He then ordered his guards to take her to his harem.

When the woman heard the king’s order she looked like a doe, which is attacked by a wild animal. Her countenance changed, and her eyes were filled with tears. She wailed and lamented, and in a faltering voice asked the ascetic to use his supernatural powers to save her. Yet, the ascetic remained calm. He did not show even a jot of anger. When she was forcibly pushed to the king’s chariot the king suddenly pondered over the utterances made by the ascetic. Failing to comprehend the exact meaning of his reply, he asked him to explain, who he referred to as “him” in his statement.

The ascetic said, “By ‘him’ I mean ‘Anger’, which is like fire, which by the process of attrition springs from a piece of wood to destroy that very wood. So does the wrath, that breaks out by a false conception, destroys the very person in whom it arises. When the fever of anger bursts forth with fierceness, the man loses all his reputation just like the water lilies, which lose charm with the dissipation of the moon-shine owing to the sun-rise. But when one pays no heed to the insults and remembers that anger alone is his real enemy his reputation shines forth like the bright disc of the moon. Further, an angry person, no matter whether adorned with the best of ornaments would look ugly, because the fire of wrath would destroy the serenity of his beauty. Bewildered by the wrath, a man deviates from the path of happiness; and tread the path of misery just like the moon, which loses its lustre when enters the dark course of the fort-night. So, by ‘him’ I mean the man’s chief enemy – the Anger’, which I did not release to redeem my pledge.”

These marvellous words and the serenity in the face of the ascetic changed the heart of the king. He suddenly grew reverence for him and felt ashamed of his guilt. He then bowed down on his feet and begged for his forgiveness after praising his virtues.

Further, he released the wife of Chullabodhi and proceeded to his kingdom with a purified mind.

Thus, it is said,

He, who wins anger appeases his enemies.
He, who loses anger burns but himself.

Chullabodhi Jataka Jataka Pali No. 443; Chariyapitaka 2.4; jm21