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Jataka 82

Mittavindika Jātaka

Mittavindika’s Story

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 brief story has two themes in it. One is the effect of cruelty on your karmic fate, and the other is the particularly extreme effects of being cruel to a parent.


No more to dwell.” This story was told by the Master while at Jetavana. It is about a stubborn monk. The incidents of this birth, which took place in the days of the Buddha Kassapa (the 27th of the previous 29 Buddhas named in the Canon), will be related in the Tenth Book in the Mahā-Mittavindaka Jātaka (Jātaka 439. This story is similar to the one in Jātaka 41).


Then the Bodhisatta uttered this stanza:

No more to dwell in island palaces

Of crystal, silver, or of sparkling gems,

With flinty headgear you are invested now.

Nor shall its gashing torture ever cease

Until your misdeed is purged and life shall end.

(In Jātaka 439, Mittavindika committed the offense of striking and mistreating his mother. He then went on a sea voyage and subsequently was put on a raft at sea. From the raft, he first landed on a blessed paradise of an island, but then he went on to another island that was a hell realm disguised as a place of beauty. There he was tricked into putting a “razor wheel” on his head. He was condemned to wear this razor wheel until the karma from his misdeed was exhausted.)

Figure: Ol’ Razor Head. Ouch.

Figure: Ol’ Razor Head. Ouch.

So saying, the Bodhisatta returned to his home among the Devas. And Mittavindaka, having donned that headgear, suffered great torment until the effects of his cruelty was exhausted, and he passed away to fare according to his remaining karma.


His lesson ended, the Master identified the birth by saying, “This stubborn monk was the Mittavindaka of those days, and I was the King of the Devas.”