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Jataka 84

Atthassadvāra Jātaka

The Six Paths to Peace

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

Atthassadvāra Jātaka

There are many discourses in the Pāli Canon that have the Buddha teaching children, especially his own son Rāhula. They are particularly endearing, and because these teachings are to children, they are sometimes more accessible.


Seek health.” This story was told by the Master while at Jetavana. It is about a boy who was wise in matters relating to spiritual welfare. When he was only seven years old, the boy, who was the son of a very wealthy Treasurer, showed great intelligence about and concern for his spiritual welfare. One day he went to his father to ask about the paths leading to spiritual welfare. The father could not answer, but he thought to himself, “This is a very difficult question. From the highest heaven to the lowest hell there is no one who can answer it except for the All-knowing Buddha.”

So he took the child with him to Jetavana, with a gift of perfumes and flowers and ointments. Arriving there, he paid respect to the Master. He bowed down before him and then sat down on one side. He said to the Blessed One, “Sir, this boy of mine, who is intelligent and concerned for his spiritual welfare, has asked me what are the paths leading to spiritual welfare. As I did not know, I came to you. Please, Oh Blessed One, resolve this question.”

“Lay brother,” the Master said, “this same question was asked me by this very child in former times, and I answered it for him. He knew the answer in bygone days, but now he has forgotten because of this new birth.” Then, at the father’s request, he told this story of the past.


Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was a very wealthy Treasurer. He had a son who, when he was only seven years old, showed great intelligence about and concern for his spiritual welfare. One day the child went to his father to ask about the paths leading to spiritual welfare. And his father answered him by repeating this stanza:

Seek Health, the supreme good. Be virtuous.

Listen to elders. Learn from the scriptures.

Conform to Truth, and break attachment’s bonds.

For it is these six paths that lead to peace.

Figure: Explaining the Paths That Lead to Peace

Figure: Explaining the Paths That Lead to Peace

In this way the Bodhisatta answered his son’s question as to the paths that lead to spiritual welfare. And the boy followed those six rules from that time forward. After a life spent in charity and other good works, the Bodhisatta passed away to fare thereafter according to his karma.


His lesson ended, the Master identified the birth by saying, “This child was also the child of those days, and I was the Lord Treasurer.”