Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

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

048 – The Sacrifice of Sivi

Once Bodhisatta was born in Aritthapura as a king with the name Sivi. He was a pious king reputed for his charity. No one ever returned empty-handed from his court. Yet, he was never satisfied with his alms giving. In the zeal to donate more and more once it flashed on his mind to donate some part of his body if asked by some one. This thought aroused the curiosity of Sakka, the lord of the devas to examine the firmness of his will. So, in the guise of a blind brahmin he arrived at Sivi’s court and begged for his eyes. Despite the shocks and persuasions and oppositions by the courtiers the king agreed to donate his eyes to the beggar. He removed his eyes resembling the petals of a blue lotus with a knife and offered them to Sakka. Surprisingly, those eyes got fixed in the beggar’s face. The Brahmin was then able to see. But the king became blind; and with the loss of the eyes his visage looked like a lotus-pond with no lotus.

When the king’s wound healed he visited a secluded floral garden on the bank of a pond. There, he sat on a couch under the trees laden with flowers and thought of his future without eyes. Sakka, watching him from the heaven felt sorry for him. So, he descended there to oblige him with a boon. When the king desired for the restoration of his eyes, he then advised him to perform the sacchakiriya (act of truth) to restore his eyes.

Sivi, to Perform the sacchakiriya recited:

If the thankful blessings of a beggar
Arouse similar pleasure
When enunciated before
And enunciated after the
Act of the donations
O My Eye! Must you then reappear”.

And thus his one eye appeared .

He then added,

If the pleasure in offering the second eye
Has given equal pleasure
Like the offering of the first eye
O My Eye! You must then reappear”.

If I was equally pleased to offer
The other eye to the person,
Who I gave the first
Then let the other eye also reappear.”

Thus, the second eye of the king also emerged. The earth then trembled in its joy. The oceans crossed their boundaries with the gay effusions. And the songs and music of the celestial beings echoed all over. The celestial nymphets hovered in the sky with their wide-open eyes. Sun emanated its warmth like a winter day and the trees showered their flowers in profusion.

Thus it is said:

The sole worth of the worthless wealth
Is its charitability;
As what is given in charity accumulates into the [meritorious] treasury;
And what is not used as benefaction
Is rather a fruitless consumption.

(Dhanasya nissaralaghoh sa saro yaddiyate lokahitonmukhena / Nidhanato yati hi diyamanamadiyamanam nidhanaekanistam //) – Jataka-Mala 2.50

See Sivi Jataka Jataka Pali No.499; Jataka Mala 2.