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2.9 The Story of Ankura, A Brother of Krishna

While the Teacher(Buddha) was Staying in Savatthi(Shravasti), he told this story.

In this case, Ankura is no peta(ghost) but because of his connection with the peta, the tale is called the Ankurpeta-story.  In the town of Asitanjana, the region of Kamsabhoga, the province of Uttarapatha(northern India), there was born to Upasagara, son of king Mahasagara, lord of Uttaramadhura(Mathura) , and to Devagabbha, daughter of Mahakamsaka, these children : Anjanadevi, Vasudeva(Krishna), Baladeva, Chandadeva, Suriyadeva, Aggnideva, Varunadeva, Ajjuna, Pajjuna, Ghatapandita, and Ankura these eleven warrior(Kshatriya) children. Vasudeva(Krishna) and his brothers, beginning at the city of Asitanjana, and having in due course brought to their death all the kings in sixty three thousand cities in the the whole country of the Jambudvipa(the country of Jamun fruit/rose apple - the ancient name of India). stopped at Dvaravati( Dwarka), where they made their abode. Then they divided the kingdom into ten parts, but they had forgotten their sister Anjanadevi. When they remembered her, one remarked, "let us make eleven divisions." Then the youngest of them all, Ankura, said: "Give my share to her; I shall make my living in business. You remit my taxes, each in his respective realm." They agreed and after they had given his allotment to their sister, the nine kings lived in Dvaravati(Dwarka).

Ankura however engaged in trade and constantly gave large donations. Now he had a slave, a keeper of his stores, who was interested in his welfare. Ankura gave to him in marriage , a lady of good family . But the slave died young, then Ankura gave  same wages to the slave's son. When the boy became adult , there erose an opinion in the king's court that the slave was not a slave. When Anjanadevi heard about it, she used the example of a milch cow and freed him from the serfdom, saying : "A freed mother has nothing less than a freed son." But the shame drove the youth away and he went to the city of Bheruva, where he married the daughter of a certain tailor and made his livelihood at the tailor's trade.

At that time there was in the city of Bheruva a great guild leader. Asayha, who gave large donations to recluses , brahmans, tramps, wayfarers, beggars , and mendicants. That tailor, with joy and satisfaction of it, pointed out to those who did not know the place, the residence of the Asayha , with the words: "Let them go there and receive what is to be obtained." His deed is referred to in the Pali canon. When he died he was reborn as an earth-deva in a desert region in a certain banyan tree , where his right hand was bestowing objects of pleasure and delight.

Now in the same Bheruva city there was a certain man who was occupied with the largesse of Asayha, But since he was unbelieving , irreligious, heretical and disrespectful toward meritorious action,  at death he was reborn as a peta near the place of abode of the above deva. What had been done by him is found in pali.

Now Asayha also died and attained companionship with Sakka , king of devas(angels) in heaven of thirty three crore angels. Then at at subsequent time Ankura placed his wares upon five hundred wagons, while a certain brahman(priest) did likewise. The two men with the thousand carts entered upon a difficult dessert road with thousand carts entered uon a difficult desert road and lost their way. As they were wandering around in the same place, grass , water & food became exhausted. Ankura sent for his messengers to look for water. Then that yakkha whose hand was bestowing objects of pleasure and delight, saw their predicament and remembering the favor done by him in the previous life by Ankura showed him the banyan tree in which he lived thinking : "Here now, I must provide this man with help." Now this banyan tree was full of branches & thick foliage, gave dense shade & had thousands of shoots. It was a yojana in length , breath & height. Upon seeing it Ankura, pleased and delighted, had the camp set up under it. The yakkha stretched out his right hand and at once supplied the whole company with water: then he gave each one of them whatever they wished. After these many folks had been provided with necessities according to their desire, and had rested from the journey, the brahman-merchant unwisely conceived this idea: "Having gone from here to Kamboja in serach of wealth, what shall we accomplish? Let us in some way seize this same yakkha and place him upon a wagon. Then we shall go with him directly to our city." With this idea in mind, he told his project to Ankura:

1. "The object for which we are going to Kamboja with our goods is accomplished in meeting this yakkha who gave us all we want; let us take this yakkha along.

2. "This yakkha taking his consent or by force, let us lift him upon the wagon and quickly go to Dvarka city"

3. "Of the tree in which whose shade one happens to sit or lie down, not a branch of it should break; for he would be a betrayer of his friend, yea an evildoer."

In reply, the brahman maintained as a matter of common sense that the root of the matter is the removal of the humbug:

4. "Of the tree in whose shade one happens to sit or lie down, not a leaf of it should be injured; for he would be a betrayer of his friend, yes an evildoer."

The brahman:

6. "Of the tree in whose shade one happens to sit or lie down, that even together with its roots he may pull out, if such should be to our  advantage."

Ankura :

7. "in whose house one happens to abide even though for a single night, with whom one obtains food & drink, against him one should not meditate evil even with the mind. Gratitude is applauded by good men.

8. "In whose house one happens to stay even though for a single night and be served with foof and drink, against him one should not even meditate wickedness with the mind.  He whose hand commits no injury makes an end of treachery to friends.

9. "Whoever in time past was good in his deeds and later on sinfully commits an injury, than man , destitute of clean hands, will not see good fortune".

Then that brahman became silent, The yakkha , however heard the two and being angry with the brahman, said: "Let this wicked brahman receive his due; afterwards I shall understand." Then in showing that he could not at all be overcome by any one, he said:

10 "I would not be easily subdued by a deva(angel) or by a human being or by a king. A Yakkha I am , endowed with highest potency; I can go to a great distance(in a flash) and am blessed with beauty & strength."


11. "your hand is entirely golden, dripping with honey, and streams of gifts are issuing from its five fingers: various sweet juices are trickling from it. I believe that you are Purindada(Indra)".


12 . "I am not a god or a gandharva nor even Sakka(Indra king of devas) Purindada. Ankura, recognize me as a peta, who has come here from Bheruva."


13. "What was your character, how was your conduct in your previous existence in Bheruva? On account of what holy life of yours are good works being accomplished  by your hands?"


14 "Formerly I was a tailor in Bheruva, living out a very miserable existence. I did not have the emans to give donations.

15. "Now my workshop was in the neighbourhood of Asayha, who was a follower of Dhamma, a master in the practices of charity, doing good deeds and unassuming.

16. "Then there were beggars, the poor people of various families,; and these asked me there for the dwelling of Asayha, saying ; 'Where shall we go? Good luck to you ! where are the donations given?"

17. " When I was asked by these, I made known to them the house of Asayha as I stretched out my right hand and said:'there you go and have a good luck, there in the abode of Asayha donations are given".

18. "Therefore my hand gives you what you wish; for that reason , my hand is dripping with honey ; on account of that holy life of mine , good deeds are accomplished with my hands."


19. "Thus we see you did not give a gift to anyone with your own hands, but rejoicing in the alms of another and stretching out your hand , you made known.

20. "Therefore your hand gives what is wanted; for that reason your hand is dripping with honey; on account of that holy life of yours good works are accomplished with your hands.

21. "Lord, that pious man, who with his own hands presents the donations, after he had laid aside his mortal body , tell me now, to what region he went?"

22. "i do not know the death and rebirth of Angirasa(Asayha), the achiever of the impossible, but I heard from Vessavana (god Kuvera) that Asayha had to companionship with Sakka(Indra the King of angels/gods in heaven).


23 "It is sufficient to do good and to give donations as per capacity. When he has seen one who with his hand gives what is desired, who will not perform meritorious acts?"

24. "Surely now, when I shall have gone from here and when I arrive at Dvarka, I shall give out out donations which are to bring me happiness.

25. "I shall give food & drink , clothes & lodging places, a wayside watering place and a well, and passages at the place hard to cross."

Then appeared the peta , whom Ankua asked :

26. "Why  are your fingers crooked , and your mouth distorted, and your eyes dripping? What evil deed has been done by you?"

The peta:

27. "For the pious householder Angirasa(Asayha), who stayed at home, I was connected with his charity; I was the overseer of his bounty.

28. "There, when I saw that the beggars, whose desiring food, had arrived, I stepped to one side and made a face.

29. "That is why my fingers ae deformed, and my mouth out of shape, and my eyes dripping. Such a wicked deed was done by me."


30. "Justly, wretch, is your mouth has become mis-shaped since you made a grimace over the gifts of others."

31. "For how could one in dispensing gifts consisting of food and drink, solid food , clothes and lodging places, but depend upon the services of another?

32. "Surely now upon my going from here and arriving at Dvarka, I shall give out presents which are to bring me happiness.

33. "i shall give both food and drink, clothes and lodging places, wayside water place and a well , and passages at the place hard to cross."

34. Then he turned back and arrived at Dvarka city . Ankura established such almsgiving as would bring him happiness.

35. With a serene mind he gave food & drinks, clothes and lodging places, a wayside watering place and a well.

36. "Who is hungry, who is thirsty , who wants a clothing & lodging? Whose animals are weary ? From this place they shall hitch them to the wagon. Who wants an umbrella & perfume ? Who wants a wreath ? Who wants sandals?"

37. Thus he shouted to barbers,to cooks, and to scent sellers continually both evening and morning, there in the abode of Ankura.

Then follows a conversation between Ankura and Sindhaka, a young man, who was appointed over his charity.


38. "The people thinks of me 'Ankura sleeps well'. Sindhaka, I sleep badly, since I do not see any beggars."

39. . "The people thinks of me 'Ankura sleeps well'. Sindhaka, I sleep badly, since the wayfarers are so few in number."


40. "If Sakka, Lord of Thirty Three(crore gods) should grant you  a wish, in making your choice, for what in the whole world would you express a desire?"


41. "If Sakka , the lord of Thirty three(crore gods in heaven) should grant me a wish, I would ask that in the morning when I have arisen , at sunrise, there should be present angel worthy sweetmeats & pious beggars;

42. "that, when I give, the virtue of my gift may not waste away, and after I have given, I may not feel regret. As I give, may I cause my heart to rejoice. Thus would I choose a wish from Sakka."

Thus Ankura made his desire known. In that place there was sitting a man by the name of Sonaka of good character. He wished to to dissuade him from much over-giving and said :

43. "Do not give all your goods to others; but protect rather the gifts and wealth. For this reason wealth is assuredly better than giving. With much over-giving , families become no more worthy.

44. "Wise men do not approve of non-giving nor of over-giving . Therefore, look you, wealth is better than almsgiving. He who has resolute righteousness should steer a middle course."

45. Ankura :  "Ah well, for all you say, I for my part, will give, and may the good, the pious men , resort to me. As a cloud filling a nullah, I want to refresh all the beggars."

46. "If one has  a peaceful attitude at the sight of saints(hermits) and is joyful upon giving a gift, that is happiness for him who dwells in a house.

47. "If one has  a peaceful attitude at the sight of saints(hermits) and is joyful upon giving a gift, that is attainment of merit(punya)."

48.  "Just before bestowing the gift, one should be happy; while giving it, he should make his heart rejoice; after giving he becomes joyful. That is the attainment of merit."

49. Sixty thousand cartloads of food daily are distributed to the people in the house of Ankura, who has a desire to do good.

50. There live with Ankura three thousand cooks adorned with jewels & earrings, zealously devoted to the giving of alms.

51. Sixty thousand youths , wearing jewels and earrings, split the firewood at Ankura's extensive presentation of gifts.

52. Sixteen thousand women arrayed in all finery, spoon in hand , are attending at Ankura's great donation.

53. Much he gave to many; long time, this nobleman continued to give much with his own hand, again and again showing his care.

55. Many months & fortnights and seasons and years, yes , for a long time, Ankura continued his great giving.

56. So Ankura gave and offered alms for a long time; then when he left his mortal body, he entered the heaven of Thirty-three(crore gods/angels).

When thus he was reborn there and was enjoying angelic-bliss, in the time of our Buddha , a young man by the name of Indaka with devotion in his mind sent a measure of food to the venerable elder monk Anuruddha, as the latter was going on his round for alms. When Indaka died and through the power of the good deed which became a field of merit(punya), he was reborn among the heaven of Thirty-three(crore angels). that is why it is said:

57. "To Anuruddha , Indaka gave ladles full of food. When he laid aside his body, he became admitted among the heaven of Thirty-three(crore angels)."

58. "In ten points Indaka outshines Ankura, i.e. in appearance, in voice, in taste, in smell, and in delightful touch;"

59. "In length of life, and in fame it is said, in complexion , in good fortune , and in lordship, Indaka outshines Ankura."

Further :

60. " Once when in the heaven of Thirty-three(crore angels) upon the stone Pandukambala (ornamental stone from which Sakka/Indra's throne is made) at the foot of the coral tree, Buddha was present there on a heavenly visit,

61. While devas/angels of ten worlds had assembled there , they paid homage to the thoroughly enlightened one(Buddha), who was staying at the top of the Mount.

62. No deva/angel outshines the enlightened one(Buddha) in appearance ; excelling all devas/angels, He alone is brilliant.

63. At the same time Ankura was there , twelve yojanas from him; but Indaka was not far from the Buddha , Indaka outshone Ankura.

64. As the Buddha saw Ankura and Indaka and making them become gift-worthy, he spoke these words :

65. "Great donation giving for a long time, Ankura you gave plenty; you are sitting too far away from me); come near to me."

66. "Urged by him of the developed spirit , Ankura spoke as follows: "What avails me that gift of mine? It was destitute of a person worthy of reward."

67. "Although , Indaka here, gave but a trifling gift, he outshines us as the moon does to the many of stars."

Thus spoke the Buddha :

68. "Just as in a sterile/unproductive field , seed , though much be sown, does not yield abundant fruit nor pleases its owner/farmer.

69. "Even so, bountiful giving bestowed upon the wicked does not yield abundant  fruit/result, nor delights the donor.

70. "And just s when scanty seed is sown in good ground the harvest gladdens the farmer wen there is plenty of rain,

71. "Even so, when donation is given to the righteous , the virtuous, a deed, though it may be slight , becomes merit(punya) with great return."

72. With discrimination, the gift should be given, when that which is bestowed leads to great reward. If they give alms with due consideration , the donors go to heaven.

73. One should seek an auspicious and very excellent gift for those who are worthy of favour here in the word of the living. Gifts to these are abundantly fruitful, as are seeds sown in a fertile field.

Links :
Story of Ghata Pandit(Brother of Krishna) : Ghata-Jātaka2
Story of Kanha(Krishna) : Petavatthu(Ghost_stories)2.6

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