|The Buddha and a small fraction of his fathom long aura (Santhosh Kumar/flickr.com)|
While the Buddha was staying at Jetavana Monastery near Savatthi, the wealthy [multi-millionaire] banker, Anathapindika, went one day to pay his respects. His servants brought masses of flowers, perfume, ghee, oil, nectar, molasses, cloth, and robes.
Anathapindika paid respects to the Buddha, presented the offerings he brought, and sat respectfully to one side. At that time, he was accompanied by a large number of friends who were followers of other teachers. His friends also paid their respects to the Buddha and sat close to the banker.
|The Buddha (Stud3o Munkey/flickr)|
After hearing the Buddha's teaching, the friends gave up their diverse practices and asked for guidance from the Triple Gem: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the (enlightened) Sangha. After that, they went regularly with Anathapindika to offer flowers and incense and to hear the teaching.
They gave liberally, kept the precepts, and faithfully observed the Lunar (Eight Precept) Observance Day [which falls on the new, full, and half moon days of the month]. Soon after the Buddha left Savatthi to return to Rajagaha. However, these friends abandoned their new confidence in the Triple Gem and reverted to their previous beliefs.
Seven or eight months later, the Buddha returned to Jetavana. Again, Anathapindika brought his friends to visit the Buddha. They paid their respects, but Anathapindika explained that they had forsaken the guidance they had previously sought and had resumed their former practices.
|Golden Buddha (travelblog.org)|
In contrast, those who clung to the truth not only survived, but actually prospered in that same wilderness."
|Yakkha, Thailand (Andy Wright/flickr)|
|"Evil" spirit (yakkha) tries to mislead the Bodhisat (appfinder.lisisoft.com)|
One day it so happened that the two merchants each loaded a large number of carts with costly wares from Benares and prepared to leave in the same direction at exactly the same time. The wise merchant thought:
"If this silly young fool travels with me and if our many carts stay together, it will be too much for the road. Finding wood and water for the workers will be difficult, and there will not be enough grass for the oxen. Either he or I must go first."
(SKS) Sri Lankan animated version of the Apannaka Jataka in Sinhalese. What is being said? The story of the past (jataka) continues:
The Bodhisatta was pleased to hear this because he saw many advantages in following after. He reasoned:
"Those carts going first will level the road where it is rough, and I'll be able to travel along the road they have already smoothed. Their oxen will graze off the coarse old grass, and mine will pasture on the sweet young growth which will spring up in its place. My workers will find fresh sweet herbs for curry where the old ones have been picked. Where there is no water, the first caravan will have to dig to supply themselves, and we'll be able to drink at the wells they have dug. Haggling over prices is tiresome work. He'll do that work, and I will be able to barter my wares at prices he has already fixed."
"Very well, my friend," he said, "please go first."
"I will," said the foolish merchant, and he yoked his carts and set out. After a while he came to the outskirts of a wilderness. He filled all of his huge water jars with water before setting out to cross the 60 yojanas [ancient Indian unit of distance, each yojana estimated to be about seven miles] of desert which lay before him.
|Crossing the Wilderness in Thai (dmc.tv/pages)|
When it had reached the middle, he used his magic power to conjure up a lovely carriage drawn by pure white young bulls.
With a retinue of a dozen disguised yakkhas carrying swords and shields, he rode along in his carriage like a mighty lord. His hair and clothes were wet, and he had a wreath of blue lotuses and white water lilies around his head. His attendants also were dripping wet and draped in garlands. Even the bulls' hooves and carriage wheels were muddy.
As the wind was blowing from the front, the merchant was riding at the head of his caravan to escape the dust. The yakkha drew his carriage beside the merchant's and greeted him kindly. The merchant returned the greeting and moved his own carriage to one side to allow the carts to pass while he and the disguised yakkha chatted.
"We are on our way from Benares, sir," explained the merchant. "I see that your workers are all wet and muddy and that you have lotuses and water lilies. Did it rain while you were on the road? Did you come across pools with lotuses and water lilies?"
"What do you mean?" the yakkha exclaimed. "Over there is the dark-green streak of a jungle. Beyond that there is plenty of water. It is always raining there, and there are many lakes with lotuses and water lilies." Then pretending to be interested in the merchant's business, he asked: "What do you have in these carts?"
"Expensive merchandise," answered the merchant.
"What is in this cart which seems so heavily laden?" the yakkha asked as the last cart rolled by.
"That's full of water."
"You were wise to carry water with you this far, but there is no need for it now, since water is so plentiful ahead. You could travel much faster and lighter without those heavy jars. You'd be better off breaking them and throwing the water away. Well, good day," the yakkha said suddenly as he turned his carriage. "We must be on our way. We have stopped too long already." He rode away quickly with his workers. As soon as they were out of sight, he turned and made his way back to his own city.
The merchant was so foolish that he followed the yakkha's advice. More
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