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Tipitaka >> Sutta Pitaka >> Khuddaka Nikaya >> Jataka >>Kaṭṭhahāri-Jātaka

Source: Adapted from Archaic translation by Robert Chalmers[]



"Your son am I."--This story was told by the Master while at Jetavana monastery about the story of Vasabha-Kshatriya, which will be found in the Twelfth Book in the Bhaddasala-jataka (*1). Tradition tells us that she was the daughter of King Mahanama Shakya(Buddha's half brother & son of queen Maha-Pajapati Gotami now head of nuns) of Kapilavastu (Kingdom of Buddha's clan)  by a slave-girl named Nagamunda, and that she afterwards became the wife of the king of Kosala. She conceived a son by the king; but the king, coming to know of her servile origin, degraded her from her rank, and also degraded her son Vidudabha. Mother and son never came outside the palace.

Hearing of this, the Master at early dawn came to the palace attended by five hundred Brethren(Monks) , and, sitting down on the seat prepared for him, said, "Sire, where is Vasabha-Kshatriya?"

Then the king told him what had happened.

Sire, whose daughter is Vasabha-Kshatriya?" "Mahanama's daughter, sir." "When she came away, to whom did she come as wife?" "To me, sir." "Sire, she is a king's daughter; to a king she is wed; and to a king she has born her son. For which reason is that son not in authority over the realm which owns his father's sway? In past days, a monarch who had a son by a casual sticks-gatherer gave that son his power to govern."

The king asked the Lord Buddha to explain this. The Lord Buddha made clear what had been concealed from him by re-birth.

Once upon a time in Benares Brahmadatta the king, having gone in great state to his garden, was roaming about looking for fruits and flowers when he came on a woman who was merrily singing away as she picked up sticks in the grove. Falling in love at first sight, the king became intimate with her, and the Bodhisattva was conceived then and there. Feeling as heavy within as though weighed down with the bolt of Indra, the woman knew that she would become a mother, and told the king so. He gave her the signet-ring from his finger and dismissed her with these-words:-"If it be a girl, spend this ring on her nurture; but if it be a boy, bring ring and child to me."

When the woman's time was come, the Bodhisattva was born from her. And when he could run about and was playing in the playground, a cry would arise, "No-father has hit me!" Hearing this, the Bodhisattva ran away to his mother and asked who his father was.

"You are the son of the King of Benares, my boy." "What proof of this is there, mother?" "My son, the king on leaving me gave me this signet-ring and said, 'If it be a girl, spend this ring on her nurture; but if it be a boy, bring ring and child to me.'" "Why then don't you take me to my father, mother?"

Seeing that the boy's mind was made up, she took him to the gate of the palace, and asked their coming to be announced to the king. Being summoned in, she entered and bowing before his majesty said, "This is your son, sire."

The king knew well enough that this was the truth, but shame before all his court made him reply, "He is no son of mine." "But here is your signet-ring, sire; you will recognise that." "Nor is this my signet-ring." Then said the woman, "Sire, I have now no witness to prove my words, except to appeal to truth. For which reason, if you be the father of my child, I pray that he may stay in mid-air; but if not, may he fall to earth and be killed." So saying, she seized the Bodhisattva by the foot and throw him up into the air.

Seated cross-legged in mid-air, the Bodhisattva in sweet tones repeated this stanza to his father, stating the truth:-

Your son am I, great monarch; rear me, Sire!
The king rears others, but much more his child.

Hearing the Bodhisattva thus teach the truth to him from mid-air, the king stretched out his hands and cried, "Come to me, my boy! None, none but me shall rear and raise you!" A thousand hands were stretched out to receive the Bodhisattva;  but it was into the arms of the king and of no other that he descended, seating himself in the king's lap. The king made him viceroy, and made his mother queen-wife. At the death of the king his father, he came to the throne by the title of King Katthavahana--the sticks-bearer--, and after ruling his realm righteously, passed away to fare according to his deeds.

His lesson to the king of Kosala ended, and his two stories told, the Master made the relation linking them both together, and identified the Birth by saying:-"Mahamaya (deceased birth mother of Buddha) was the mother of those days, King Shuddhodana (father of Buddha & king of Kapilavastu) was the father, and I myself King Katthavahana."

[Note. Story of Dushyanta and Shakuntala in the Mahabharata and to Kalidasa's drama of the Lost Ring.]


(1)See no. 465.