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Ghosaka-seṭṭhi (Ghosita°)

A millionaire (seṭṭhi) of Kosambī. Being born as the son of a courtesan, he is cast away on a refuse heap. A passer-by takes him home, but the Treasurer of Kosambī, knowing from an astrologer that the stars showed the birth of a very lucky boy, seeks him out and adopts him. A few days after, the Treasurer’s wife bears him a son, and he therefore plans to kill Ghosaka with the help of a slave woman, Kālī. All his attempts having failed, he promises a potter one thousand pieces if he will kill the boy. Ghosaka is sent to the potter with a message; on the way he meets his foster-brother, and gives him the message, promising to win for him a game of marbles. The foster-brother goes to the potter and is killed. The Treasurer then sends Ghosaka to the superintendent of his hundred villages with a letter ordering that he be killed. The letter is fastened to the boy’s garment. On the way he stops for a meal at the house of a country-treasurer whose beautiful daughter falls in love with him. Discovering the letter, she substitutes another to the effect that Ghosaka should be married to her with great festivity and that a two-storeyed house should be built for them. The superintendent carries out these orders and the Treasurer falls ill on receiving the news. He is visited on his death-bed by Ghosaka and his wife, and while trying with his dying breath to say “I do not give him my wealth,” by a slip of the tongue he says “I do.” Ghosaka becomes a very pious man and is made the Treasurer of King Udena. Later he meets Sāmavatī, daughter of his friend Bhaddavatiya, adopts her as his daughter and, when the time comes, gives her in marriage to Udena.

In a past life Ghosaka had been Kotūhalaka of Addilaraṭṭha, but left there with his wife and child on account of great poverty. On the way he cast off the child on account of its being too heavy, but rescued it later in answer to his wife’s importunities. It was as a result of that act that he was cast away in this birth. Later he was born as a dog and then as Ghosaka-devaputta (DhA.i.169 ff; PsA.504 ff)

Ghosaka had two colleagues in Kosambī, Kukkuṭa and Pāvārika. For a number of years they entertained five hundred ascetics from Himavā, during the rainy season, until one year the ascetics, hearing from a tree-sprite, who had been one of Anāthapiṇḍika's labourers, of the arising of the Buddha, informed Ghosaka and his friends of their determination to see the Buddha at Sāvatthi. The ascetics went on ahead, followed by Ghosaka and the others, bearing all kinds of gifts. They all heard the Buddha teach, became Stream-winners, and invited the Buddha to Kosambī. On the invitation being accepted, they built residences for the Buddha and the monks at Kosambī, that built by Ghosaka being called Ghositārāma (DhA.i.203 ff; AA.i.234 f; MA.i.539 f; PsA.414, etc.)

Mitta (DhA.i.189) was the householder in charge of the refectory from which Ghosaka had food daily distributed to the needy, and Sumana was Ghosaka’s gardener (DhA.i.208).

Ghosaka is mentioned as an example of a man possessing the power of merit (puññiddhi). He could not have been killed even if stabbed in seven places (BuA.24).

See also Ghosita Sutta.

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