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Dīghāvu Vatthu

(V.i.341)

The Story of Dīghāvu

Introduction

The Kosambiya Jātaka (No.428) contains only a small portion of this story, and the DīghIti Kosala Jātaka (No.371) contains further details, calling it the Saṅghabhedaka Jātaka, but that is not found in the Jātaka Commentary. The full account is found in the Vinaya Mahāvagga. The monks at Kosambī were disputing and quarrelling over a minor rule. There were two groups: those well-versed in the Vinaya and those well-versed in the Dhamma. The leader of those well-versed in the Dhamma entered the latrine, and after using it, forget to refill the water jar used for rinsing. The leader of those well-versed in the Vinaya, entering after him, noticed that the water jar had not been refilled. He reminded the master of Dhamma of his offence, and the Dhamma master apologised, saying that he had been just forgotten to refill it. The Vinaya master than said that since it was unintentional, there was no offence. So the Dhamma master did not confess an offence. Then those who were well-versed in Vinaya disputed with him for not confessing an offence, and the Saṅgha became divided.

The Buddha twice urged the monks to stop disputing, but they could not be reconciled. Then the Buddha related this story of a previous era in an attempt to reconcile the quarrelsome monks.

Translation

458. Then the Blessed One addressed the monks: “At one time, monks, Brahmadatta was the king of Kāsi ¹ at Benares. He had great wealth, property, and power, and his kingdom was replete with livestock, grass, and firewood. Dīghīti, the king of Kosala,¹ had little wealth, property, and power, and his kingdom was depleted of livestock, grass, and firewood. Then, monks, King Brahmadatta, having assembled his fourfold army, marched against King Dīghīti. Then, monks, having heard: ‘King Brahmadatta, having assembled his fourfold army, has marched against me,’ he thought, ‘King Brahmadatta has great wealth, property, and power, and his kingdom is replete with livestock, grass, and firewood, while I am needy, I have little wealth, property, and power, my kingdom is depleted in livestock, grass and firewood. I am not able to survive even one battle with King Brahmadatta, I should prepare cautiously for the future and flee from the city.

“Then, monks, King Dīghīti, taking his queen with him, secretly fled from the city. Then, monks, King Brahmadatta conquered the fourfold army,² its people, storehouses, and treasuries, and took over the country. Then, monks, King Dīghīti and his queen left for Benares, duly arriving there after travelling in stages. Then, monks, King Dīghīti and his queen stayed near to Benares in a certain place in a potter’s dwelling, disguised as a wandering ascetic. Then, monks, not long afterwards the queen of King Dīghīti fell pregnant, and a longing arose in her: ‘I long to see a fourfold army clad in armour at an auspicious site at sunrise, and to drink the water in which they wash their swords.’ Then, monks, the queen of King Dīghīti said to the king of Kosala: ‘I long to see a fourfold army clad in armour at an auspicious site at sunrise, and to drink the water in which they wash their swords.’ [The king replied]: ‘Where, my queen, are we unfortunate people to see a fourfold army clad in armour at an auspicious site at sunrise, and to drink the water in which they wash their swords?’ [The queen replied]: ‘If, king, I do not get it, I will die.’

459. “At that time, the chief priest of King Brahmadatta was a friend of King Dīghīti. Then, monks, King Dīghīti approached the chief priest and told him of the queen’s longing. [The chief priest said]: ‘Then, lord, I should also see the queen.’ Then, monks, the queen of King Dīghīti approached the chief priest. Monks, having seen the queen of King Dīghīti from a distance, he rose from his seat, arranged his robe over one shoulder, raised his joined palms in reverence, and uttered this verse three times: ‘The future king of Kosala dwells in your womb! Do not despair, you will obtain your longing to see a fourfold army clad in armour at an auspicious site at sunrise, and to drink the water in which they wash their swords.’

“Then, monks, the chief priest of King Brahmadatta approached King Brahmadatta, and having approached, said to him: ‘Lord, I have seen these signs. Tomorrow at sunrise the fourfold army clad in armour should assemble at an auspicious site, and wash their swords.’ Then, monks, King Brahmadatta called some men, saying: ‘Good sirs, do what the chief priest tells you to do.’ Thus, monks, the queen of King Dīghīti obtained what she longed for. Then, monks, in due course the queen gave birth to a son. He was given the name Dīghāvu.³ Then, monks, before long Prince Dīghāvu reached the age of wisdom. Then, monks, King Dīghīti thought: ‘This King Brahmadatta has done us great harm, if he should discover us, he would kill us all.’ Then, monks, King Dīghīti sent Prince Dīghāvu to live outside of the city. Then, monks, Prince Dīghāvu dwelt outside of the city, and before long had trained in all of the skills [of a warrior prince].

460. “At that time the barber of King Dīghīti dwelt at the court of King Brahmadatta. Having recognised, monks, King Dīghīti dwelling in a certain place in a potter’s hut disguised as wandering ascetic with his queen, he approached King Brahmadatta and having approached, told him about it. Then, monks, King Brahmadatta called some men and told them to bring King Dīghīti and his queen. ‘Yes lord,’ they replied and they brought King Dīghīti and his queen. Then, monks, King Brahmadatta called some men and said: ‘Good sirs, tie King Dīghīti and his queen firmly with ropes, arms behind their backs, shave their heads, and lead them from street to street, from cross-roads to cross-roads, beating drums, and lead them out of the city by the southern gate, there cutting them into four pieces and scattering the pieces to the four directions.’ Having replied, ‘Yes lord,’ to King Brahmadatta, those men bound King Dīghīti and his queen firmly with strong ropes, arms behind their backs, shaved their heads, and lead them from street to street, from cross-roads to cross-roads, beating drums.

“Then, monks, Prince Dīghāvu thought: ‘I have not seen my parents for a long time, what if I should go to see them?’ Then, monks, Prince Dīghāvu having entered Benares saw is parents firmly tied with ropes, arms behind their backs, with shaven heads, being lead them from street to street, from cross-roads to cross-roads, with beating drums, and having seen them he approached them. Monks, having seen Prince Dīghāvu approaching from a distance, King Dīghīti said to him: ‘Do not be far-sighted, dear Dīghāvu, do not be short-sighted! Hatred is not appeased by hatred, dear Dīghāvu, hatred is appeased by kindness.’ Having spoken thus, monks, those men said to King Dīghīti, ‘Are you mad, King Dīghīti, are you rambling? Who is this Dīghāvu? Why do you speak thus: ‘Do not be far-sighted, dear Dīghāvu, do not be short-sighted! Hatred is not appeased by hatred, dear Dīghāvu, hatred is appeased by kindness.’ [King Dīghīti replied]: ‘Good sirs, I am not mad nor rambling, those who are wise will understand.’ A second and a third time King Dīghīti repeated what he had said to Prince Dīghāvu, and affirmed that he was neither mad nor rambling. Those who are wise will understand. Then, monks, the men lead King Dīghīti and his queen out of the city by the southern gate, there cutting them into four pieces and scattering the pieces to the four directions. Then, monks, Prince Dīghāvu, entering Benares he obtained strong liquor, and gave it to the soldiers to drink. When they became intoxicated and passed out, he gathered the bodily remains of his parents into a heap, made a funeral pyre, and with joined palms raised in reverence, he circumambulated the pyre three times, keeping it to his right.

461. “At that time, King Brahmadatta was on the upper terrace of his palace. Monks, having seen Prince Dīghāvu circumambulating the funeral pyre three times with his hands raised in reverence, keeping it to his right he thought: ‘Without doubt this man is a relative or kinsman of King Dīghīti. Alas, this is a misfortune for me, that no one could tell me about it.

“Then, monks, Prince Dīghāvu, having gone to the forest, having wept and lamented as much as he wished to, he dried his tears and having entered Benares he went to the elephant stables near to the royal palace and said to the elephant trainer: ‘I wish, teacher, to learn your skill.’ [The elephant trainer replied]: ‘Then young man I will teach you.’ Then, monks, Prince Dīghāvu having got up at dawn, sang a sweet song and played the lute. Having heard it, monks, King Brahmadatta asked the people: ‘Who, good sirs, having got up at dawn sings this sweet song while playing the lute?’ [They replied]: ‘Lord, that is the resident student of the elephant trainer who, having risen at dawn sings a sweet song while playing the lute.’ [The king replied]: ‘Then bring that student here.’ [The king said]: ‘Is it you good student who, having got up at dawn sings a sweet song while playing the lute?’ ‘Yes, lord.’ ‘Then good student please sing and play the lute.’ Having replied, ‘Yes lord,’ to King Brahmadatta, Prince Dīghāvu sang and played the lute to please him. [The king said]: ‘You, good student, will be my personal attendant.’ Monks, ‘Very well, lord,’ Prince Dīghāvu replied to King Brahmadatta. Then, monks, Prince Dīghāvu, rising before King Brahmadatta and sleeping after him, obeyed all of his commands, pleasing in his behaviour and speech. Then, monks, before long King Brahmadatta established Prince Dīghāvu in a confidential position.

462. “Then, monks, King Brahmadatta said to Prince Dīghāvu: ‘Then, good student, harness the chariot; we will go to the forest.’ Monks, having replied, ‘Yes, lord,’ to King Brahmadatta, Prince Dīghāvu harnessed the chariot and said: ‘The chariot is ready, whenever you think it is the right time.’ Then, monks, King Brahmadatta ascended the chariot, and Prince Dīghāvu drove it. He drive it so that the chariot took one route, and the other chariots of the army took another route. Then, monks, after a long time, Brahmadatta king of Kāsi said to Prince Dīghāvu: ‘Then, good student, stop the chariot, I am tired and need to lie down.’ Having replied: ‘Very well, lord,’ Prince Dīghāvu, monks, stopped the chariot and sat down cross-legged on the ground. Then, monks, King Brahmadatta, having laid his head in the lap of Prince Dīghāvu, and because he was so tired he fell asleep at once.

“Then, monks, Prince Dīghāvu thought: ‘This King Brahmadatta has done us great harm. He has robbed us of our fourfold army, our people, storehouses, and treasuries. He has killed my parents. Now is the time to take my revenge,’ he unsheathed his sword. Then, monks, Dīghāvu thought: ‘When he was about to die my father said: “Do not be far-sighted, dear Dīghāvu, do not be short-sighted! Hatred is not appeased by hatred, dear Dīghāvu, hatred is appeased by kindness.” It is not suitable for me to go against the words of my father,’ and put his sword back in its sheath. A second and a third time Prince Dīghāvu thought: ‘This King Brahmadatta has done us great harm … It is not suitable for me to go against the words of my father,’ and put his sword back in its sheath.

“Then, monks, King Brahmadatta suddenly awoke, afraid, startled, suspicious, and terrified. Then, monks, Prince Dīghāvu said to King Brahmadatta: ‘Why, lord did you suddenly awaken, afraid, startled, suspicious, and terrified?’ [The king replied]: ‘I dreamt, dear student, that Prince Dīghāvu, the son of King Dīghīti, attacked me with his sword, so I suddenly awoke, afraid, startled, suspicious, and terrified.’

“Then, monks, Prince Dīghāvu held the head of King Brahmadatta in his left hand, and with his right hand unsheathed his sword, saying: ‘I, lord, am Prince Dīghāvu the son of King Dīghīti. You have done us great harm. You have robbed us of our fourfold army, our people, storehouses, and treasuries. You have killed my parents. Now is the time for me to take my revenge.’ Then, monks, King Brahmadatta bowed his head at the feet of Prince Dīghāvu saying: ‘Give me my life, dear Dīghāvu, give me my life!’ [Dīghāvu replied]: ‘How, lord, can I give you your life? Please give me my life.’ [King Brahmadatta replied]: ‘Then, dear Dīghāvu, you give me my life, and I will give you your life.’ Then, monks, King Brahmadatta and Prince Dīghāvu gave each other their life, shook hands, and made a solemn vow not to harm each other.

“Then, monks, King Brahmadatta said to Prince Dīghāvu: ‘Then, dear Dīghāvu, harness the chariot, we will go.’ Monks, having replied, ‘Very well, lord,’ to King Brahmadatta, having harnessed the chariot, Prince Dīghāvu said to King Brahmadatta: ‘The chariot is harnessed, lord, whenever you think the time is right.’ Then, monks, King Brahmadatta ascended the chariot, Prince Dīghāvu drove the chariot so that before long they had rejoined the other chariots of the army. Then, monks, King Brahmadatta, having entered Benares, having assembled his ministers and following, he said to them: ‘If, good sirs, you were to see Prince Dīghāvu, the son of King Dīghīti, what would you do to him?’ They said in unison: ‘We, lord, would cut off his hands, his feet, his hands and feet, his ears, his nose, his ears and nose, we would cut off his head.’ [The king said]: ‘This, good sirs, is the son of King Dīghīti, Prince Dīghāvu. Nothing should be done to him. I have given him his life, and he has given me my life.’

463. “Then, monks King Brahmadatta said to Prince Dīghāvu: ‘When your father said to you at his time of death, “Do not be far-sighted, dear Dīghāvu, do not be short-sighted. Hatred does not cease by hatred; hatred ceases by kindness,” what was the meaning of his words?’ ‘Lord, when my father said at the time of his death, “Do not be far-sighted,” he meant, “Do not keep hatred for long.” Lord, when my father said at the time of his death, “Do not be short-sighted,” he meant, “Do not quickly break-up with friends.” Lord, when my father said at the time of his death, “Hatred does not cease by hatred; hatred ceases by kindness,” he meant when you have killed my parents, if I should deprive you of life, those who are your well-wishers would deprive me of life, and those who are my well-wishers would deprive them of life — thus hatred would not be appeased by hatred. Now I have given you your life, and you have given me my life, thus hatred has been appeased. This, Lord, is what my father meant by the words: “Hatred does not cease by hatred; hatred ceases by kindness.”

“Then, monks, King Brahmadatta said: ‘It is wonderful, friend, it is marvellous! Prince Dīghāvu is wise in that he has understood the detailed meaning of the words spoken in brief by his father.” Then he gave him back his fourfold army, his people, storehouses, and treasuries, and gave him his daughter [in marriage].

“If, monks, such patience and meekness can be practised by kings who have not given up punishments and the sword, how much more should you who have gone forth as recluses in this well-taught Dhamma and Discipline practise patience and meekness.” For a third time ⁴ the Blessed One said to those monks: “Enough, monks, do not quarrel and dispute, do not be divisive and contentious.”

“For a third time, a certain monk who was a speaker of non-dhamma said to the Blessed One: ‘Venerable sir, may the Blessed One the master of the Dhamma wait; let the Blessed One not be troubled, Venerable sir, may the Blessed One abide in comfort here and now. We will be known for this quarrel and dispute, this divisiveness and contention.”

“Then the Blessed One thought: ‘These foolish men have exhausted the limit, it is not easy to instruct them,’ and getting up from his seat he departed.

Notes:

1. Hereafter abbreviated to King Brahmadatta and King Dīghīti.

2. Fourfold army (caturaṅginiṃ senaṃ): foot-soldiers, chariots, horses, and elephants.

3. Dīghāvu = Dīghāyu, long-lived.

4. The Buddha had already remonstrated with the monks twice to stop disputing. He tried once more after relating this story from the past. The Jātaka stories in the Commentary on the Jātaka verses are not the only stories of previous lives found in the Tipiṭaka. There are many other such birth stories found in the Pāḷi texts, such as the Ghaṭikāra Sutta of the Majjhimanikāya.