Jataka 8

Gāmani Jātaka

Prince Gāmani

as told by Eric Van Horn

originally translated by Robert Chalmers, B.A., of Oriel College, Oxford University

originally edited by Professor Edward Byles Cowell, Cambridge University

This story is a little terse and requires some explanation. In the Pāli Text Society edition it says that the “Introductory Story and the Story of the Past will be given in the Eleventh Book with the Saṃvara Jātaka.” This is Jātaka 462.

Jātaka 462 tells the story of a king with 100 sons. As each one of them comes of age, he is given a province over which to rule. However, when the youngest son comes of age, the Bodhisatta counsels him not to do this, but to stay behind and help his father rule. Over a period of years, with the Bodhisatta’s advice he does this in a particularly humane and wise way. As a result he becomes very popular with people at all levels in the kingdom. When his father dies, despite the fact that he is the youngest, he becomes king, and even wins the support of his brothers by his kindness and generosity.

Also note the significance of the white umbrella. In ancient India justice was dispensed under a tree. Later the umbrella replaced the tree (because of the hot sun) both physically and symbolically. Therefore the umbrella was the symbol for justice. Buddhism adopted this symbolism and in the 200 years or so after the Buddha died he is sometimes represented by an umbrella, a throne, and two footprints with a Dharma wheel inside of them.

The themes of this Jātaka are patience and gratitude.

Their heart’s desire.” This story was told by the Master while at Jetavana about a monk who gave up persevering. In this Jātaka both the Introductory Story and the Story of the Past will be given in the Eleventh Book in connection with the Saṃvara Jātaka. The incidents are the same both for that Jātaka and for this, but the stanzas are different.

By following the advice of the Bodhisatta, Prince Gāmani, even though he was the youngest of a hundred brothers, found himself surrounded by those hundred brothers as a retinue and seated beneath the white canopy of kingship. He contemplated his glory and thought, “All this glory I owe to my teacher.” And, in his joy, he burst into this heartfelt utterance:

Their heart’s desire they reap, who hurry not.

Know, Gāmani, ripe excellence is yours.

Seven or eight days after he became the King, all his brothers departed to their own homes. King Gāmani, after ruling his kingdom in righteousness, passed away to fare according to his karma. The Bodhisatta also passed away to fare according to his karma.

King Gāmani

Figure: King Gāmani

His lesson ended, the Master preached the Dharma, after which the faint-hearted monk won Arahatship. Having told the two stories, the Master showed the connection linking them both together and identified the birth.