Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

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

052 – Ghat: The Virtuous King

Ghata-Jataka, Nagarjunakonda

Ghata at the palace door witnessing the misconduct of his minister in the royal harem.

Once the Bodhisatta was born in Varanasi as the son of king Brahmadatta with the name Ghata. Educated in Taxila he acquired the knowledge of arts and the like subjects useful to any ruler. When became the king he ruled his kingdom righteously.

One day, when he entered his harem he saw his minister committing misconduct with the queen. The king punished him by banishing him from his kingdom.

The disgruntled man then went to Savatthi and entered into the service of King Vanka. Soon he won his favour by divulging the military secrets of the Varanasi kingdom and instigated him to attack Varanasi.

The forces of Savatthi invaded Varanasi. And despite the stiff resistance put by the army, King Ghata lost the battle. Then, captured and chained he was dragged and thrown into a prison. When he entered the prison he sat on meditation. At that point of time, the King Vanka felt burning heat in his palace; so, he strolled about the prison. There, he saw Ghata sitting cross-legged in the air and meditating. His face was bright and looked like a fully bloomed lotus. The king was curious to know why Ghata neither looked sad; nor scared though confined in an enemy’s prison. So, he asked him,

When others weep and wail, and stain their face with tears

Ghat! how do you have the smiling face with no fears ?

Ghata replied,

To grieve to change the sorrow of the past is in vain
Vanka! Why should I then complain

As the act of the grief shall have no consequence to the future

So why should I allow it to mature.

Vanka was impressed with the words of the prisoner and restored him his kingdom. But Ghata handed it over to his ministers for the benevolent rule and retired to the Himalayas to lead the life of an asetic.

Ghata Jataka Pali Jataka No. 355


Note: Pali Jataka No.454 is also called the Ghata Jataka but that narrates the story of Kanha, resembling the stories of Krishna.