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Mahāsupina Jātaka (No.77)

Pasenadi, king of Kosala, had, one night, sixteen bad dreams, and his brahmins, on being consulted, said that they presaged harm either to his kingdom, his life, or his wealth, and prescribed all manner of sacrifices in order to avert the danger (It is perhaps this sacrifice which is referred to at S.i.75).

Mallikā, the king’s wife, heard of this and suggested that the Buddha should be consulted. The king followed her advice, and the Buddha explained the dreams.

  1. The first dream was of wild bulls entering the royal courtyard to fight but retiring after roaring and bellowing. This, said the Buddha, meant that, in future, when wicked kings rule, rain clouds will gather, but there will be no rain.
  2. The second dream was of trees and shrubs sprouting from the earth which flowered and bore fruit when only about one span high. This foretold a time when men would be short lived owing to their lusts.
  3. In the third dream cows sucked calves that were hardly a day old. This showed that, in the future, the young would refuse respect to the old.
  4. The fourth dream was of sturdy draught oxen standing by, while young steers tried to draw loads. This signified a time when the administration of affairs will be entrusted to the young and inexperienced, while the wise and old stand by.
  5. The fifth dream was of a horse that ate from two mouths, one on either side of its body, which foretold a time when the king’s justices will take bribes from contending parties and give themselves to corruption.
  6. The sixth dream was of people holding a very valuable golden bowl and asking a jackal to stale therein. This shows that, in the future, kings will exalt the low born and noble maidens will be mated with upstarts.
  7. The seventh dream was of a man holding a rope that he trailed at his feet, while a she jackal kept on eating it. This foretold a time when women will lose their sense of modesty and behave badly.
  8. In the eighth dream was a big pitcher at the palace gates filled with water and surrounded by empty ones. This foretold a time when kings will be poor and set the whole country working for them, the people being left in extreme poverty.
  9. The ninth dream was of a deep pool with sloping banks overgrown with lotus. Men and beasts entered the pond; the middle was muddy, but at the edges was crystal water. This meant that in the future there would be unrighteous kings oppressing the people, who would leave the capital and take refuge in the frontier districts.
  10. The tenth dream was of rice cooking in a pot, which rice, instead of cooking evenly, remained in three parts: some sodden, some raw, some well cooked; this showed that in the future men of all classes, even brahmins and sages, will be wicked, the very forces of nature will be against them, and their harvest will be spoiled.
  11. The eleventh dream was of men bartering butter-milk for precious sandalwood, and presaged a time when the Dhamma would decay and its votaries clamour for money and gifts.
  12. The twelfth dream was of empty pumpkins sinking in the water; the world will be reversed: the low-born will become great lords and the noble sink into poverty.
  13. In the thirteenth dream solid blocks of rock floated in the water; nobles and wise men will be scorned while upstarts shall have their own way.
  14. In the fourteenth dream tiny frogs chewed huge snakes and ate them; a time will come when men, because of their lusts, will become the slaves of their wives and be ruled by them.
  15. The fifteenth dream was of a wicked village crow attended by mallards; kings will arise, ignorant and cowardly, who will rise to power, not their peers, but their footmen, barbers, and the like; nobles will be reduced to waiting on these upstarts.
  16. In the sixteenth dream goats chased panthers, devouring them; the lowborn will be raised to lordship and nobles will sink into obscurity and distress; when the latter plead for their rights, the king’s minions will have them cudgeled and beaten on the soles of their feet.

Having thus explained the dreams, the Buddha told Pasenadi a story of the past. A king of Bārāṇasī, named Brahmadatta, had dreams similar to those of Pasenadi. When he consulted the brahmins, they began to prepare sacrifices. A young brahmin protested, saying that animal sacrifice was against the teaching of the Vedas, but they would not listen. The Bodhisatta, who was a hermit in the Himavā, possessed of insight, became aware of what was happening, travelled through the air and took his seat in the park. There he was seen by a young brahmin, who brought the king to the park. The Bodhisatta heard the king’s dreams and explained them to his satisfaction.

Ānanda was the king and Sāriputta the young brahmin. J.i.334‑45.