Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

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

069 – The Happy Man

The ascetic and his followers

O nce, there lived a hermit with his five hundred disciples in the Himalayan mountains. He belonged to a wealthy brahmin family and had renounced the worldly life because of his realization of the transience of the worldly pleasure.

One day, the ascetic along with his followers visited Varanasi to beg for alms and to spend the rainy season there. There, he and his followers were extended the royal hospitality and served food and shelter in the royal park. At the conclusion of the rainy season when the ascetic begged for his leave from the king the latter requested him to stay there longer by sending back all his followers. The ascetic accepted the royal invitation; and entrusted the responsibility on his chief disciple for the care and instructions of all his followers.

Back to the Himalaya, the chief disciple discharged his duty rather meticulously. Further, having thus spent there for several months, he one day came back to the royal park in Varanasi to pay homage to his guru. There, he apprised him of the activities of his followers in the Himalayas and sought necessary guidance for future course of action.

When the chief disciple was engrossed in discussion with the guru, the king, too, arrived there. The chief disciple was, however, unmindful of the king’s arrival and did not stand up to greet and honour him. The king instead heard him uttering, “Oh, what a great pleasure ! Oh, what a great pleasure !!” The king thought the disciple was greedy and was expressing his gratification after eating some royal dishes, which are scarcely available in forests. So, he gave a contemptuous look at the visiting ascetic.

The guru, however, read the mind of the king. So, to appease the king he introduced the chief disciple and revealed his earlier identity. He told the king that the disciple was the monarch of a kingdom, which happened to be much mightier than the kingdom of Varanasi. Further, the utterances of “great pleasure”, which he had just made, were the expressions of the pleasure of the life of a recluse, which he had never experience during the days of his sovereignty. The king then realized his distrust in the chief disciple and felt ashamed and apologised.

(The guru was the Bodhisatta; and the chief disciple was Bhaddiya).

See Sukhavihari Jataka Jataka Pali No.10.