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Suppāraka Jātaka (No.463)

The Bodhisatta, named Suppāraka, was once a master mariner of Bhārukaccha. His eyes were injured by the salt water and he went completely blind. The king appointed him valuer and assessor. One day an elephant was brought before him which was designed to be the state elephant, but, feeling it over with his hands, he condemned it, saying that its dam had dropped it in its youth, injuring its hind feet. He similarly condemned a horse, a chariot, and a blanket for various reasons, all these things having been designed for royal use. All his judgments were verified by the king and found to be correct; but he only gave Suppāraka eight pieces of money each time, and so Suppāraka left his service in disgust.

Some merchants had commissioned a ship, and, while searching for a captain, thought of Suppāraka. When Suppāraka refused, saying that he was blind, they replied that blind he might be, but no ship could founder if he were at the helm. After seven days the ship was caught in a storm and Suppāraka drove her through various seas — Khummāla, Aggimāla, Dadhimāla, Nīlavaṇṇakusamāla, Nalamāla, and Vaḷabhāmukha. When he arrived at the last ocean he saw that there was no means of rescuing the ship, and so performed an act of Truth. In one day the ship sailed back to Bhārukaccha.

The story was related in reference to the Buddha’s perfection of wisdom. J.iv.136‑47; cf. Sapāraga Jātaka in the Jātakamālā (No.14).

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