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Tipitaka >> Sutta Pitaka >> Khuddaka Nikaya >> Jataka >>Rukkhadhamma-Jātaka

Source: Adapted from Archaic translation by Robert ChalmersEdit


JATAKA No. 74

RUKKHADHAMMA-JATAKA

"United, forest-like."--This story was told by the Master while at Jetavana monastery, about a quarrel concerning water which had brought suffering upon his family clan (of Kapilavastu ). Knowing of this, he passed through the air, sat cross-legged above the river Rohini, and emitted rays of darkness, startling his family clan. Then descending from mid-air, he seated himself on the river-bank and told this story with reference to that quarrel. (Only a summary is given here; the full details will be told in the Kunala-jataka (*1).) But on this occasion the Master addressed his family clan, saying, "It is good, sire, that family should dwell together in harmony and unity. For, when family are at one, enemies find no opportunity. Not to speak of human beings, even sense-lacking trees should stand together. For in past days in the Himalayas a tempest struck a Sal-forest; yet, because the trees, shrubs, bushes, and creepers of that forest were interlaced one with another, the tempest could not overthrow even a single tree but passed harmlessly over their heads. But alone in a courtyard stood a mighty tree; and though it had many stems and branches, yet, because it was not united with other trees, the tempest uprooted it and laid it low. For which reason, you too should dwell together in harmony and unity." And so saying, at their request he told this story of the past.


Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the first King Vessavana (*2) died, and Sakka(Indra) sent a new king to reign in his stead. After the change, the new King Vessavana sent word to all trees and shrubs and bushes and plants, asking the tree-fairies each choose out the dwelling that liked them best. In those days the Bodhisattva had come to life as a tree-fairy in a Sal-forest in the Himalayas. His advice to his family in choosing their habitations was to shun trees that stood alone in the open, and to take up their dwellings all round the dwelling which he had chosen in that Sal-forest. On this the wise tree-fairies, following the Bodhisattva's advice, took up their quarters round his tree. But the foolish ones said, "Why should we dwell in the forest? let us rather seek out the domain of men, and take up our dwellings outside villages, towns, or capital cities. For fairies who dwell in such places receive the richest offerings and the greatest worship." So they departed to the domain of men, and took up their dwelling in certain giant trees which grew in an open space.

Now it fell out upon a day that a mighty tempest swept over the country. Nothing did it avail the solitary trees that years had rooted them deep in the soil and that they were the mightiest trees that grew. Their branches snapped; their stems were broken; and they themselves were uprooted and throw to earth by the tempest. But when it broke on the Sal-forest of interlacing trees, its fury was in vain; for, attack where it might, not a tree could it overthrow.

The sad fairies whose livings were destroyed, took their children in their arms and journeyed to the Himalayas. There they told their sorrows to the fairies of the Sal-forest, who in turn told the Bodhisattva of their sad return. "It was because they listened not to the words of wisdom, that they have been brought to this," said he; and he unfolded the truth in this stanza:-

United, forest-like, should family stand;
The storm overthrows the solitary tree.

So spoke the Bodhisattva; and when his life was spent, he passed away to fare according to his deeds.


And the Master went on to say, "Thus, sire, think how good it is that family clan at any rate should be united, and lovingly dwell together in harmony and unity." His lesson ended, the Master identified the Birth by saying, "The Buddha's followers were the fairies of those days, and I myself the wise fairy."

Footnotes:

(1)No. 536.

(2)A name of Kuvera.

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