Stories of the Buddha’s Former Births
Book 3 Tikanipāta
287. Labha-Garaha Jātaka
“He that hath madness,” etc.—This story the Master told at Jetavana, about a fellow-priest of the Elder Sariputta. This brother came and greeted the Elder, and sitting on one side, he asked him to tell the way in which one could get gain, and how he could get dress and the like. The Elder replied, “Friend, there are four qualities which make a man successful in getting gain. He must get rid of modesty from his heart, must resign his orders, must seem to be mad even if he is not; he must speak slander; he must behave like a dancer; he must use unkind words everywhere.” Thus he explained how a man gets a great deal. The brother objected to this method, and went away. The Elder went to his Master, and told him about it. The Master said, “This is not the first time that this brother spoke in dispraise of gain; he did the same before;” and then, at the request of the Elder, he told an old-world tale.
Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was born in a Brahmin family. When he grew up to the age of sixteen years, he had already mastered the three Vedas and the eighteen accomplishments; and he became a far-famed teacher, who educated a body of five hundred young men. One young man, a youth of virtuous life, approached his teacher one day with the question, “How is it these people get gain?
The teacher answered, “My son, there fife four qualities which procure gain for those people;” and he repeated the first stanza—
“He that hath madness, he that slanders well,
That hath an actor’s tricks, ill tales doth tell,
Such is the man that wins prosperity
Where all are fools: let this your maxim be.”
“Shame upon him that gain or glory wins
By dire destruction and by wicked sins.
“With bowl in hand a homeless life I’ll lead
Rather than live in wickedness and greed.”
When the Master had ended this discourse he thus identified the Birth—“At that time the brother who disapproved of gain was the young man, but his teacher was I myself.”