Jataka 103

Veri Jātaka

The Enemy

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 is a simple story about prudence. It has – perhaps – a slightly subtler message as well, and that is avoiding conflict when possible:

“The wild boar runs from the tiger, knowing that each be well-armed by nature with deadly strength, may kill the other. Running, he saves his own life and that of the tiger. This is not cowardice. It is the love of life.” - [Master Kahn, Kung Fu Television Series]

If you are wise, you will not linger.” This story was told by the Master at Jetavana. It is about Anāthapiṇḍika. For we hear that Anāthapiṇḍika was returning from a village where he was the headman when he saw robbers on the road. “It won’t do to delay,” he thought. “I must hurry on to Sāvatthi.” So he urged his oxen to speed up and got safely into Sāvatthi. On the next day he went to the monastery and told the Master what had happened to him. “Sir,” the Master said, “in other times, too, the wise and good saw robbers on the road and hurried without delay to their homes.” Then at the merchant’s request he told this story of the past.

Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was a rich merchant. He had gone to a village to collect his dues and was on his way home when he saw robbers on the road. At once he urged his oxen to their topmost speed and reached home in safety. And as he sat on his couch of state after a rich feast, he exclaimed, “I have escaped from the robbers’ hand to my own house, where fear does not live.” And in gratitude he uttered this stanza:

If wise, you will not linger amongst enemies.

A night or two with such brings miseries.

So, from the fullness of his heart, the Bodhisatta spoke, and after a life of charity and other good deeds he passed away to fare according to his karma.

Figure: Turbo-charging the Oxen

Figure: Turbo-charging the Oxen

His story ended, the Master identified the birth by saying, “I was the merchant of Benares of those days.