Jataka 106

Udañcani Jātaka

Infatuation With a Temptress

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

The original translation of this story describes the young woman as a “fat girl.” However, the Pāli word for “fat” also means “course.” In the teachings a “course person” is someone who indulges in sensual pleasures and is something of a temptress, someone who is seductive and uses those seductive powers to manipulate others.

I would like to dedicate this story to my son.

A happy life was mine.” This story was told by the Master while he was at Jetavana. It is about being tempted by a seductive woman. The entire incident will be related in the Culla-Nārada-Kassapa Jātaka (Jātaka 477) in the Thirteenth Book.

(In Jātaka 477, a sensuous young woman tries to lure the Bodhisatta’s son out of his life living as a recluse in the forest. However, the Bodhisatta composes a metaphorical poem that he recites and then explains to his son. This shows the son the dangers of the sensual world and brings him back to his senses.)

On asking the monk, the Master was told that it was true he was in love, and in love with the seductive girl. “Brother,” the Master said, “she is leading you astray. So, too, in times gone by she led you into evil, and you were only restored to happiness by the wise and good of those days.” So saying, he told this story of the past.

Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, those things came to pass which will be told in the Culla-Nārada-Kassapa Jātaka. But on this occasion the Bodhisatta arrived in the evening with fruits at the hermitage. Opening the door, he said to his son, “Every other day you brought wood and victuals, and lit a fire. Why have you not done any of these things today, but sit sadly here pining away?”

“Father,” the young man said, “while you were away gathering fruits, a woman came who tried to lure me away with sweet talk. But I would not go with her until I had your permission, and so I left her sitting waiting for me. And now my wish is to depart.”

Finding that the young man was too infatuated to be able to give her up, the Bodhisatta wished him farewell, saying “But when she wants meat or fish or ghee or salt or rice or any such thing to eat, and she sends you hurrying to and fro on her errands, then remember this hermitage and come away back to me.”

So the son went off with the woman to the world of men. When he got to her house, she made him run about to do every single thing she wanted.

“I might just as well be her slave,” he thought, and promptly ran away back to his father. Saluting him, he stood and repeated this stanza:

A happy life was mine until she arrived,

--That worrying, tiresome schemer defined my wife--

Set me to run the errands of her whims.

Figure: The Perils of Passion

Figure: The Perils of Passion

And the Bodhisatta praised the young man and encouraged him to be kind and show mercy. He described the four forms of right feeling towards people (loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity) and the practices for gaining insight. And it was not long before the young man won the Knowledges (supernormal powers) and Attainments (the jhānas). Further, he cultivated the right feelings towards his fellow beings, and with his father was reborn into the Brahma Realm.

His lesson ended, the Master taught the Four Noble Truths, at the close of which that monk attained stream entry. The Master identified the birth by saying, “The seductive girl of today was also the seductive girl of those days. This beguiled monk was the son, and I was the father of those days.”