Stories of the Buddha’s Former Births
Book 1 Ekanipāta
68. Saketa Jātaka
“The man thy mind rests on.”—This story was told by the Master, while at Anjanavana, about a certain brahmin. Tradition says that when the Blessed One with his disciples was entering the city of Saketa, an old brahmin of that place, who was going out, met him in the gateway. Falling at the Buddha’s feet, and clasping him by the ankles, the old man cried, “Son, is it not the duty of children to cherish the old age of their parents? Why have you not let us see you all this long time? At last I have seen you; come, let your mother see you too.” So saying, he took the Master with him to his house; and there the Master sat upon the seat prepared for him, with his disciples around him. Then came the brahmin’s wife, and she too fell at the feet of the Blessed One, crying, “My son, where have you been all this time? Is it not the duty of children to comfort their parents in their old age?” Hereon, she called to her sons and daughters that their brother was come, and made them salute the Buddha. And in their joy the aged pair shewed great hospitality to their guests. After his meal, the Master recited to the old people the Sutta concerning old-age; and, when he had ended, both husband and wife won fruition of the Second Path. Then rising up from his seat, the Master went back to Anjanavana.
Meeting together in the Hall of Truth, the Brethren fell to talking about this thing. It was urged that the brahmin must have been well aware that Suddhodana was the father, and Mahamaya the mother, of the Buddha; yet none the less, he and his wife had claimed the Buddha as their own son,—and that with the Master’s assent. What could it all mean? Hearing their talk, the Master said, “Brethren, the aged pair were right in claiming me as their son.” And so saying, he told this story of the past.
Brethren, in ages past this brahmin was my father in 500 successive births, my uncle in a like number, and in 500 more my grandfather. And in 1500 successive births his wife was respectively my mother, my aunt, and my grandmother. So I was brought up in 1500 births by this brahmin, and in 1500 by his wife.
And therewithal, having told of these 3000 births, the Master, as Buddha, recited this Stanza—
The man thy mind rests on, with whom thy heart
Is pleased at first sight,—place thy trust in him.