Jataka 135

Candābha Jātaka

Sun and Moon

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 the next in the “You-really-gotta-believe-Sāriputta” series.

I am not sure what the meditation on the sun and moon implies. There is no corollary in the rest of the Pāli Canon of which I am aware. There are practices in later forms of Buddhism that may be related, so perhaps this is a later addition.

Who meditates wisely.” This story, too, was told by the Master while he was at Jetavana. It is about the interpretation of a problem by the Elder Sāriputta at the gate of Saṁkassa.

Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta, as he passed away in his forest home, answered his disciples’ queries with the words, “Moonlight and Sunlight.” With these words he died and was reborn in the Radiant Realm (the Brahma Realm).

Now when the chief disciple interpreted the Master’s words his fellows did not believe him. Then the Bodhisatta returned and from mid-air recited this stanza:

Who wisely meditates on sun and moon,

Shall win (when reason gives way

To rapture) his place in Radiant Realms.

(These lines imply that by taking the Sun and Moon as a subject for meditation, a meditator will attain jhāna, and as a result will be reborn no lower than the Brahma realm.)

Such was the Bodhisatta’s teaching, and after praising his disciple, he went back to the Brahma Realm.

Figure: Sāriputta… Still the Man

Figure: Sāriputta… Still the Man

His lesson ended, the Master identified the birth by saying, “Sāriputta was the chief disciple of those days, and I was Mahā-Brahmā.”