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Ghaṭikāra Suttaṃ

(M.ii.45)

The Potter

282. Thus have I heard — at one time the Blessed One was touring among the people of Kosala with a large community of monks. Them the Blessed One smiled at a certain place beside the road. The Venerable Ānanda thought: “What is the cause, what is the reason for the Blessed One to smile? The Tathāgatas do not smile without any reason.” Then the Venerable Ānanda, having arranged his robe over one shoulder, raised his joined palms in homage and said: “What is the cause, what is the reason, Venerable sir, for the Blessed One to smile? The Tathāgatas do not smile without any reason.”

“At one time, Ānanda, in this place was a market town named Vegaḷiṅga that was prosperous, busy, and crowded with many people. The Blessed One, the worthy, Fully Enlightened Buddha Kassapa, Ānanda, lived in dependence on Vegaḷiṅga. Right here, Ānanda, Kassapa Buddha ¹ had his monastery, and instructed the community of monks [46] sitting right here. Then the Venerable Ānanda folded the double-robe in four, spread it out, and said to to the Blessed One: “Then, Venerable sir, let the Blessed One sit here. This place will then have been made use of by two worthy, Fully Enlightened Buddhas.” The Blessed One sat on the seat that had been prepared. Sitting there, the Blessed One said to the Venerable Ānanda:–

“At one time, Ānanda, in this place was a Vegaḷiṅga that was prosperous, busy, and crowded with many people. The Kassapa Buddha, Ānanda, lived in dependence on Vegaḷiṅga. Right here, Ānanda, Kassapa Buddha  had his monastery, and instructed the community of monks sitting right here.

283. “In the market town of Vegaḷiṅga, Ānanda, a potter named Ghaṭikāra was the chief support of Kassapa Buddha. Ghaṭikāra, Ānanda, had as a friend, a dear friend, a Brahmin youth named Jotipāla. Then, Ānanda, Ghaṭikāra invited Jotipāla:² ‘Let us approach the Blessed One, Kassapa Buddha. It is good to meet the worthy Fully Enlightened Buddhas.’ When this was said, Ānanda, Jotipāla said to Ghaṭikāra: ‘Enough, good Ghaṭikāra! What is the use of seeing this bald-headed recluse!’ A second time, and a third time, Ānanda, Ghaṭikāra addressed Jotipāla: ‘Let us approach the Blessed One, Kassapa Buddha. It is good to meet the worthy Fully Enlightened Buddhas.’ When this was said, Ānanda, Jotipāla said to Ghaṭikāra: ‘Enough, good Ghaṭikāra! What is the use of seeing this bald-headed recluse!’ [Ghaṭikāra said] ‘Then, dear Jotipāla, having taken back-scrubbers and bath powder, let us go to the river to bathe.’ Jotipāla, Ānanda, replied to Ghaṭikāra: ‘Very well, friend.’ Then, Ānanda, Ghaṭikāra and Jotipāla, having taken back-scrubbers and bath powder, went to the river to bathe.

284. “Then, Ānanda, Ghaṭikāra invited Jotipāla: ‘The monastery of Kassapa Buddha is not far from here. Let us approach the Blessed One, Kassapa Buddha. It is good to meet the worthy Fully Enlightened Buddhas.’ When this was said, Ānanda, Jotipāla said to Ghaṭikāra: [47] ‘Enough, good Ghaṭikāra! What is the use of seeing this bald-headed recluse!’ A second time, and a third time, Ānanda, Ghaṭikāra addressed Jotipāla: ‘Let us approach the Blessed One, Kassapa Buddha. It is good to meet the worthy Fully Enlightened Buddhas.’ When this was said, Ānanda, Jotipāla said to Ghaṭikāra: ‘Enough, good Ghaṭikāra! What is the use of seeing this bald-headed recluse!’

“Then, Ānanda, Ghaṭikāra, having taken hold of Jotipāla’s waist-band said: ‘The monastery of Kassapa Buddha is not far from here. Let us approach the Blessed One, Kassapa Buddha. It is good to meet the worthy Fully Enlightened Buddhas.’ Then, Ānanda, Jotipāla, having freed himself from Ghaṭikāra’s grip on his waist-band said to Ghaṭikāra: ‘Enough, good Ghaṭikāra! What is the use of seeing this bald-headed recluse!’ Then, Ānanda, Ghaṭikāra having taken hold of Jotipāla’s bathed hair and said: ‘The monastery of Kassapa Buddha is not far from here. Let us approach the Blessed One, Kassapa Buddha. It is good to meet the worthy Fully Enlightened Buddhas.’

“Then, Ānanda, Jotipāla thought: ‘It is extraordinary! It is remarkable! In as much as this potter Ghaṭikāra, who is of inferior birth, should seize me by the hair after we have bathed our heads. This cannot be a trivial matter. Then he said to Ghaṭikāra: ‘You go even this far, friend Ghaṭikāra.’ [who replied] ‘I do go this far, friend Jotipāla. That much [48] do I value it as good to meet the Blessed One, the worthy Fully Enlightened Buddhas.’ ‘Then indeed, good Ghaṭikāra, let go; we would go.’

285. “Then, Ānanda, Ghaṭikāra and Jotipāla approached Kassapa Buddha, and having approached, Ghaṭikāra paid homage and sat down at one side. Jotipāla exchanged friendly greetings with Kassapa Buddha, and having engaged in polite conversation, sat down at one side. Sitting at one side, Ānanda, Ghaṭikāra said to Kassapa Buddha: ‘This is my friend, Venerable sir, my dear friend Jotipāla. Let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma to him.’ Then, Ānanda, Kassapa Buddha instructed (sandassesi), inspired (samādapēsi), enthused (samuttejesi), and gladdened (sampahaṃsesi) Ghaṭikāra and Jotipāla with talk on the Dhamma. Then, Ānanda, Ghaṭikāra and Jotipāla, having been instructed, inspired, enthused, and gladdened by talk on the Dhamma by Kassapa Buddha, they delighted and rejoiced in what the Blessed One had said, paid homage, and departed keeping their right side towards him.

286. “Then, Ānanda, Jotipāla said to Ghaṭikāra: ‘Having heard this Dhamma, dear Ghaṭikāra, why do you not go forth from the household life into homelessness?’ ‘Do you not know, dear Jotipāla, that I have to care for my blind and aged parents?’ ‘Then indeed, dear Ghaṭikāra, I will go forth from household life into homelessness.’ Then, Ānanda, Ghaṭikāra and Jotipāla approached Kassapa Buddha, [49] and having approached, paid homage and sat down at one side. Sitting at one side, Ānanda, Ghaṭikāra said to Kassapa Buddha: ‘This is my friend, Venerable sir, my dear friend Jotipāla. May the Blessed One let him go forth.’ Thus Jotipāla was able to obtain the going forth in the presence of Kassapa Buddha, and obtained the higher ordination.

287. “Then, Ānanda, not long after the ordination of Jotipāla, after half a month, Kassapa Buddha, having stayed for as long as he wished at Vegaḷiṅga left on tour for Benares. Wandering in stages, he arrived at Benares. There, the Blessed One, Kassapa Buddha stayed at Benares in the deer park at the sages’ resort (Isipatana). Kikī, the king of Kāsi,³ Ānanda, heard: ‘The Blessed One, Kassapa Buddha, has arrived at Benares and is dwelling in the deer park at the sages’ resort.’

“Then, Ānanda, King Kikī had the state carriages made ready and mounting the royal carriage went out in state to meet Kassapa Buddha. Having gone as far as the carriages could go, he descended from the carriage and approached Kassapa Buddha on foot. Have approached, he paid homage to Kassapa Buddha, and sat down at one side. As he was sitting at one side, Ānanda, Kassapa Buddha instructed, inspired, enthused, and gladdened King Kikī with talk on the Dhamma. Having been instructed, inspired, enthused, and gladdened with talk on the Dhamma, Ānanda, King Kikī said to the Blessed One: [50] ‘Please consent to accept tomorrow’s meal, Venerable sir, together with the community of monks.’ Then, Ānanda, Kassapa Buddha consented by remaining silent. Then, Ānanda, Kikī, king of Kāsi, having understood Kassapa Buddha’s consent, King Kikī got up from his seat, paid homage to the Blessed One, and departed keeping his right side towards him.

“Then, Ānanda, during the night having had superior hard and soft food prepared in his own palace, packets of pale yellow rice with the black grains removed, with many curries and condiments, he invited Kassapa Buddha: ‘It is time, Venerable sir, the meal is ready.’

288. “Then, Ānanda, Kassapa Buddha, have dressed in the early morning, having taken his almsbowl and double-robe, approached the palace of King Kikī. Having approached is sat down on a seat made ready, together with the community of monks. Then, Ānanda, King Kikī with his own hand served and satisfied the community of monks led by Kassapa Buddha with the superior hard and soft foot. Then, Ānanda, when Kassapa Buddha had eaten and withdrawn his hand from the almsbowl, having taken a low seat, King Kikī sat at one side. Setting at one side, Ānanda, King Kikī said to Kassapa Buddha: ‘Please consent, Venerable sir, to residence for the Rains Retreat at Benares, it will be suitable to support the community of monks.’

“[The Blessed One replied:] ‘Enough, great king, I have already been provided for a residence for the Rains Retreat.’ A second time, Ānanda, … a third time, King Kikī said to Kassapa Buddha: ‘Please consent, Venerable sir, to residence for the Rains Retreat at Benares, it will be suitable to support the community of monks.’ ‘Enough, great king, I have already been provided for a residence for the Rains Retreat.’

“Then, Ānanda, King Kikī, thinking: ‘Kassapa Buddha [51] does not consent to my residence for the Rains Retreat at Benares,’ was very disappointed and sad. Then, Ānanda, King Kikī said to Kassapa Buddha: ‘Is there, Venerable sir, another who is a better supporter than me?’

“There is, great king, the market town of Vegaḷiṅga. There, a potter named Ghaṭikāra is my supporter, my leading supporter. You, great king, thinking ‘Kassapa Buddha does not consent to my residence for the Rains Retreat at Benares,’ are very disappointed and sad. However, Ghaṭikāra is not and will not be sad. Ghaṭikāra, great king, has gone for refuge to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha. Ghaṭikāra, great king, abstains from killing living beings, from stealing, from sexual misconduct, from false speech, for taking intoxicants that cause heedlessness. Ghaṭikāra, great king, is endowed with perfect faith in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha, endowed with the morality of the Noble Ones. Ghaṭikāra, great king, has no doubt about suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the way leading to the cessation of suffering. Ghaṭikāra, great king, eats only one meal a day, he practises chastity, he is virtuous, and of good character. Ghaṭikāra, great king, has given up using gems and gold, free from using money. Ghaṭikāra, great king, does not break the earth with a hoe or his own hands, Whatever is broken from an embankment by rats or dogs, he fetches with a basket on a carrying pole, and have made earthenware says: ‘Take whatever you wish, leaving in exchange husked rice, beans, or chick-peas.’ Ghaṭikāra, great king, cares for his blind and aged parents. [52] Ghaṭikāra, great king, having destroyed the five lower fetters, will arise spontaneously and attain final cessation in that world.’

289. “On one occasion, great king, I was staying at Vegaḷiṅga. Then, great king, in the early morning, having dressed and taking my almsbowl and double-robe, I approached the parents of Ghaṭikāra, having approached them I said: ‘Where has the potter ⁴ gone?’ [They replied:] ‘Venerable sir, your supporter has gone out, take boiled rice from the cooking-pot and curry from the dish, and eat it.’ Then, great king, I took boiled rice from the cooking-pot and curry from the dish, ate it, got up from my seat, and left.

“Then, great king, Ghaṭikāra approached his parents, and having approached them said: ‘Who has taken boiled rice from the cooking-pot and curry from the dish, and having eaten it, got up and left?’ [They replied:] ‘Kassapa Buddha, dear, has taken boiled rice from the cooking-pot and carry from the dish, and having eaten, got up from his seat and left.’ Then, great king, this thought occurred to Ghaṭikāra: ‘It is a gain for me, a great gain for me, that Kassapa Buddha trusts me thus.’ Then, great king, joy (pīti) and bliss (sukhaṃ) did not leave him for half a month, and his parents for seven days.

290. “On another occasion, great king, … [53] I took porridge and curry, ate it and left … did not leave him for half a month, and his parents for seven days.

291. “On another occasion, great king, I was staying at Vegaḷiṅga. Then on that occasion my hut flooded with the rain. Then, great king, I said to the monks: ‘Go, monks, to the dwelling of Ghaṭikāra and find out if there is any grass.’ When this was said, great king, those monks said to me: ‘There is no grass, Venerable sir, at the dwelling of Ghaṭikāra; but his dwelling is thatched with grass.’ [Then I said:] ‘Go, monks, to the dwelling of Ghaṭikāra and strip the grass from the roof.’ Then, great king, those monks stripped the grass from the roof of Ghaṭikāra’s dwelling. Then, great king, the parents of Ghaṭikāra said to those monks: ‘Who is stripping the grass from the roof?’ [Those monks replied:] “The monks, sister. The hut of Kassapa Buddha is getting flooded with the rain.’ ‘Take it, Venerable sir, take it auspicious ones.’ ⁵

“Then, great king, Ghaṭikāra approached his parents, and having approached them said: ‘Who has stripped the grass from the roof?’ [They replied:] ‘The monks, dear, said that the hut of Kassapa Buddha was flooding with the rain.’ Then, great king, this thought occurred to Ghaṭikāra: ‘It is a gain for me, a great gain for me, that Kassapa Buddha trusts me thus.’ Then, great king, joy and bliss did not leave him for half a month, and his parents for seven days. [54] Then, great king, for the entire three months of the Rainy Season, his dwelling stood without thatch and open to the sky, but it never rained. Such a one, great king, is Ghaṭikāra!’ [The king replied:] ‘It is a gain, Venerable sir, for Ghaṭikāra, it is a great gain, Venerable sir, that the Blessed One trusts Ghaṭikāra this much.’

292. Then, Ānanda, King Kikī sent five hundred cartloads of yellow rice in baskets, and sufficient curry ingredients to accompany them. Then the king’s men, Ānanda, said to Ghaṭikāra, ‘Venerable sir,⁶ please accept these five hundred cartloads of yellow rice in baskets, and sufficient curry ingredients to accompany them.’ [Ghaṭikāra replied:] ‘The king has many duties and much that needs to be done. I have sufficient. Let these be for the king.’

“If it occurs to you, Ānanda, ‘The brahmin youth Jotipāla was someone else,’ it should not be taken thus, Ānanda.⁷ On that occasion, I was the brahmin youth Jotipāla.”

Thus spoke the Blessed One. Delighted, the Venerable Ānanda, rejoiced in what the Blessed One had said.

#GhaṭikāraSuttaTopNotes:

1. Hereafter, “The Blessed One, the worthy, Fully Enlightened Buddha Kassapa,” is abbreviated to “Kassapa Buddha.”

2. Hereafter, “The brahmin youth Jotipāla” is abbreviated to “Jotipāla,” “The potter Ghaṭikāra,” to “Ghaṭikāra,” and “A market town named Vegaḷiṅga,” to “Vegaḷiṅga.”

3. Hereafter, “Kikī, the king of Kāsi” is abbreviated to “King Kikī.” Kāsi was the region, famed for its silk, of which Benares (Bārāṇasī) was the capital. See India in the Time of the Buddha.

4. The Pāḷi term used here is ‘bhaggavo.’ The term is also used in the Dhātuvibhaṅga Sutta (M.iii.237) in reference to a potter (bhaggavo kumbhakāro). I assume that it is a generic term for potters, like “Cooper” for those who make barrels? See the entry for Bhaggava in the Dictionary of Pali Proper Names. The PTS dictionary says that its meaning is obscure. [cp. Sk. *bhārgava, a der. fr. bhṛgu, & bhargaḥ, of same root as Lat. fulgur lightning; Gr. flo/c light; Ger. blitzen, blank; Ags. blanca white horse, all of the idea of “shining, bright, radiant.”

5. Auspicious ones (bhadramukhā), lit. one whose face brings blessings.

6. They addressed him as Bhante. Although not ordained, he lived a life of chastity.

7. The Jātaka stories are not limited to the Commentaries. Several like this can be found in other parts of the main discourse collections. Although the Bodhisatta Jotipāla obtained the going forth, and led a virtuous life as a monk in the time of Kassapa Buddha, he did not then attain the path or its fruition. Had he done so, his long journey to become an Omniscient Buddha would have ceased at that time. The Commentary states that he attained only to knowledge of adaptation (anuloma-ñāṇa).

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