Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Slayer: the Executioner who went to Heaven

G.P. Malalasekera, Dictionary of Pali Proper Names (Pali Text Society vis edited, updated, and expanded by Dhr. Seven, Pfc. Sandoval, Pat Macpherson, Wisdom Quarterly

I like killing for the king. It's a job.
Tambadāthika was a public executioner in ancient Rājagaha (the royal hill-rung capital, Rajgir).

He had copper colored teeth, tawny skin, and a body covered with scars. He wanted to join a gang of thieves, but for a long time, the ringleader refused to admit him -- on account of his inordinately cruel looks.

HE was eventually admitted, but when the band of thieves were captured, no one could be found who was willing to kill the large number (500) of them.

But the crowd demanded it and paid me to kill.
Well, that is to say, only one person could be found: Tambadathika agreed to execute his fellow thieves for a reward. He slew all his colleagues.

The backstabbing slayer was afterwards appointed "public executioner" for the kingdom and held the post for 55 years. When however he became too old to behead a man with a single blow, another man was appointed in his place.

The bad karma of killing for everyone involved: bad mental karma yielding bad results.

Tambadathika was deprived of the four perks to which he had for so many years been entitled:
  1. old clothes
  2. milk porridge made of ghee
  3. jasmine flowers, and
  4. perfumes.
Wise Sariputra was compassionate.
On the day he was deposed from office, he gave orders for milk porridge to be cooked. Then having bathed and decked himself out, he was about to eat when Ven. Sāriputra, out of compassion for him [giving him an opportunity to make great merit], appeared at his door.

Tambadathika invited the great disciple (thera) in and showed him great hospitality. When Sāriputta began his words of thanksgiving, his host could not concentrate his thoughts to listen and benefit from the ennobling teaching -- worried and full of misgivings by memories of his terrible past karma.

Yes, harm was done, but good can be done, too.
Sāriputta consoled him by representing to him that he had merely "carried out the king's orders." At the end of the sutra, Tambadāthika developed the qualities necessary for becoming a stream-winner (sotāpanna, the first stage of enlightenment) [which apparently he did not attain due to his muddled state of mind].

Tambadāthika accompanied Ven. Sariputra when he departed. But on his way back, he was gored to death by a mad cow. That cow was possessed by the same yakkhinī (yakshi = ogress) who had killed: Pukkusāti, Bāhīya of the Barkcloth, and Suppabuddha (DhA.ii.35; UdA.289). The Buddha declared that he had been reborn in the celestial Tusita heaven (DhA.ii.203ff). Source

The killer-crowd wants us to.
Tambadathika attained this very fortunate rebirth as a result of the great merit of showing hospitality and giving to the fully enlightened great disciple, who was in the habit of always entering and emerging from an exalted meditative attainment before receiving any gift, out of compassion for the giver, making that giver's offering much more meritorious, for karma depends not only on the state of mind of the giver but also the state of the receiver.

Death penalty: modern mass murderers called British public executioners last century.

No comments: