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A Tale of Patience

Jataka Stories

In one of his many previous lifetimes, the Buddha turned away from the householder's life and became a wise ascetic. He was renowned for his many saintly virtues, and especially for his patience and restraint, thus earning the name Kshantivadin, 'the teacher of restraint'. He lived in a forest glade and devoted all his time to spiritual practice.

One day, a king from a nearby realm was out on a trip to a beautiful lake with his entourage of young wives. After indulging in various hedonistic activities, the king was quite drunk and fell asleep while his wives roamed the region picking flowers. The women strayed further and further away from the lake until they reached the dwelling place of Kshantivadin. They were awestruck by his saintly presence. They asked him to teach them, and Kshantivadin proceeded to give a talk on the virtues of modesty, patience, and restraint.

The king woke from his sleep and when he saw that some of his wives had left the lake, he immediately had his servants lead him in the direction they traveled. When he arrived at the ascetic's glade and saw his wives sitting before Kshantivadin, he became filled with a terrible jealous rage. He accused the Bodhisattva of being a hypocrite who pretended he was saintly while coveting his wives. Kshantivadin and the women all tried to explain that his actions were innocent, but the king's rage was impenetrable. He stated that he was going to torture Kshantivadin until he admitted that he was a hypocrite, a fraud, and a false ascetic, and then proceeded to chop Kshantivadin's hand off with a sword. He then to chopped off Kshantivadin's arms, nose, ears, and feet as well. Aware of the inevitability of death, the Bodhisattva said nothing to stop him.

When the king was done and began to walk back towards the lake, the earth opened up and swallowed him into a fiery pit. Seeing this, one of the servants was scared that Kshantivadin had cursed the king and started to beg him to spare the innocent people of the kingdom. Kshantivadin explained that he did not cause the earth to swallow the king and that he had no ill will towards him or his people. Kshantivadin said that he only pitied the king's jealous mind because it was going to hurt him more than anyone else. The Bodhisattva then died. Word that the king had slaughtered an innocent ascetic spread throughout the kingdom, and his reputation was destroyed, and his royal line ended.


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