A Story Demonstrating the Benefits of Observing the Five Moral Precepts - Buddhism, Philosophy, and Khmer Literature


Buddhism, Philosophy, and Khmer Literature

The teachings of the Buddha are aimed solely at liberating sentient beings from suffering. The Basic Teachings of Buddha which are core to Buddhism are: The Three Universal Truths; The Four Noble Truths; and The Noble Eightfold Path.

Post Top Ad

Post Top Ad

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

A Story Demonstrating the Benefits of Observing the Five Moral Precepts

A Story Demonstrating the Benefits of Observing the Five Moral Precepts

Once upon a time, when Dhanañjayakorabya was king of Indapattha city in the Kuru Province the Boddhisatta was born as his son. When he grew up, he studied at Takkasīla. When he was fully educated, his father made him heir prince to the throne, and afterwards, on his father’s death, he became king.

The Boddhisatta ruled the country in accordance with ten duties of the king and also observed the five moral precepts (Garudhamma Sīla) well. Like the Boddhisatta, his mother, his queen, younger brother in heir, his chaplain, his land-surveying minister, his charioteer, a wealthy man, his minister of the royal granaries, his gate-keeper, a courtesan and the citizens—all kept the moral precepts untarnished. Therefore, the whole country had fine weather and it was peaceful and pleasant. The king built six Almonries—one at each of the four city gates, one in the centre of the city and one at the palace door—and daily distributed food and things worth six lakhs in local currency.

At that time, in the city of Dantapūra in Kaliṅga Province, there ruled a king called Kaliṅga. During his reign, there was a drought and because of that drought there was a famine in the country. The people did not get enough food to eat and suffered from various diseases. They took their children by the hand, went to the palace and made an outcry at the palace door.

When the king opened the window and listened to the outcry, he knew that they were asking him to keep the practice of Royal Dhamma so that it would rain and they would not suffer from starvation and disease.

When the king asked how he should keep the practice of Royal Dhamma, his ministers replied, “Your Majesty, the former rulers, when it did not rain, gave alms, observed sabbath precepts and slept on a grass pallet in their royal chamber. Then the rain would fall.” The king followed their advice, but it did not rain.

His men said, “Your Majesty, in the city of Indapattha, there is a royal elephant named Anjanavaṇṇa which belongs to King Dhanañjayakorabya. If you can bring that elephant to our country, rain will fall.” They said so because they thought that Kuru Province got enough rain due to that royal elephant.

The king sent a delegation of brahmins to Indapattha City. The brahmins requested King Korabya to offer his royal elephant to them.

King Korabya, without hesitation, poured donation water into the donees’ hands and donated his elephant together with its trappings to the brahmins.

The brahmins brought the elephant to Dantapūra City and handed it over to their king. Although the elephant arrived there, no rain fell yet. So, the king asked his ministers again why it was so. His ministers replied, “Your Majesty, King DhanañjayaKorabya always observed the Garudhamma Sīla. So, in his country, it rains once every ten or fifteen days. If you ask for that Garudhamma Sīla and observe it well, it will rain.” The King sent eight brahmins to Indapattha City to give the elephant back and to ask for Garudhamma Sīla.

King Korabya said to the brahmins who asked for Garudhamma Sīla, “Brahmins, it is true that I observe Garudhamma Sīla. But now, as I have a slight doubt in my Garudhamma Sīla, I’m not satisfied with my observance. So, I don’t want to give my Garudhamma Sīla to you.” Then the king explained why he was in doubt about his righteousness in detail thus: “Every three years, in the month of Kattika (October-November), I used to hold Kattika Festival. I put on royal costume and shot arrows wreathed in flowers to the four directions from the shrine of Cittarājā. I could see where three of the arrows landed, but I could not see the fourth which as shot into water. I’m not sure whether it hit a fish or not. So, I am in doubt about my Garudhamma Sīla. My mother observes Garudhamma Sīla very well. So, you can get it from her.” But the brahmins persistently asked for Garudhamma Sīla from him. So, the king made them write it on a gold-leaf as follow: -

- Don’t kill other living beings.

- Don’t take what is not given by the owner.

- Don’t commit sexual misconduct.

- Don’t tell lies.

- Don’t take alcoholic drinks.

Then the brahmins paid homage to the king and went forth to the king’s mother. When they requested her to give Garudhamma Sīla, the mother said:

“My sons, indeed I did observe Garudhamma Sīla. But I don’t want to give it to you now because I feel doubtful about my observance. I have two sons, the elder being a king and the younger being a prince. One day a certain king from another country sent my elder son, the Boddhisatta, a golden garland worth one thousand coins and perfumes of sandalwood worth one lakh coins. My elder son gave them to me. But I do not wear any perfumes or any flowers. So, I decided to give them to my daughters-in-law. Then a thought occurred to me thus: “My elder daughter-in-law is the chief queen and I will give her the golden garland. My younger daughter-in-law is relatively poor, and I’ll give her the sandal perfumes.” I did as I thought. After that, I reflected upon my action and some doubt arose in me thus: “I observe Garudhamma Sīla. I should not bring the matter of being poor or not to the forefront. I should give priority to the elder within a family. I have done what I should not do. Have I breached my morality by doing so? My elder daughter-in-law observes Garudhamma Sīla well. So, go and get it from her.”

The brahmins, nevertheless, took Garudhamma Sīla from the king’s mother and went to her elder daughter-in-law to request for Garudhamma Sīla. She said that she also felt doubtful about her morality because she once felt attached to the prince, her younger brother-in-law. So, she told the brahmins to ask for Garudhamma Sīla from the prince.

The Brahmins, nevertheless, took Garudhamma Sīla from her and went to the prince. The prince also had a doubt in his morality, saying thus:

“Brahmins, I have some doubt about my morality. I used to go to the king in the evenings to pay him my respect. If I intend to spend the night there, I used to leave the rein and the goad for driving on the chariot. It was a sign for my followers to depart and to come again early in the next morning. If I leave the rein and the goad inside the chariot, it means I will not spend the night there and will go home that very night. So, my followers waited for me there. One day while I was staying with the king, it rained very heavily and the king did not let me go home. So, I slept there that night. My followers waited for me the whole night in the rain expecting me to go home. In the next morning, when I saw them drenched with rain, I thought to myself, “Although I do observe Garudhamma well, I have made all my followers miserable. So, I might have breached my morality. That’s why I have a doubt in my morality.”

Although the prince made the brahmins write down Garudhamma Sīla as observed by him, he told them to go and get it from the chaplain. The prince thought that the chaplain observed Garudhamma Sīla better than him. However, the chaplain also told them about his doubt concerning his morality thus:

“Brahmins, I also have a doubt in my morality. One day, I went to the palace to wait upon the king. There I saw a new chariot, sent to the king by another king and a thought rose in me: ‘My chariot is very old. If the king will give this new one to me, how nice it will be. I shall ride about in the new chariot comfortably.’ When I got to the king, I greeted him with the prayer: “Jeyyatu bhavaṁ rājā, meaning, “May you live long, and may you be prosperous.” On seeing me, the king said, “This chariot is excellent. Give it to my teacher.” Though I refused again and again to accept that new chariot, my refusal was in vain. So, I am in doubt about the Garudhamma Sīla I observed because I had coveted other’s property. The land-surveying minister does observe Garudhamma Sīla very well. Go and get it from him.”

After taking Garudhamma Sīla from the chaplain, the brahmins went to the land-surveying minister, told the reason of their visit and asked for Garudhamma. The minister said:

“Brahmins, I feel doubtful about my morality. One day, I measured a certain field in a village. Tying a cord to a stick, I gave one end of the cord to the owner of the field to hold, and I myself held the other end with the stick. Then the end which I held fell on a crab’s hold. I thought, ‘If I put the stick in the hold, the crab in it will die. If I put the stick on the other side some the king’s land will be lost, and if I put it on this side, the farmer will lose some of his land.’ So, I didn’t know what to do. Then I thought again, ‘There may not be any crab in this hold. If there is a crab in it, it will show itself.’ Then as soon as I put my stick into the hold, I heard a sound ‘Click’. I wondered if the stick had pierced the back of the crab and killed it. So, I have a doubt whether I have breached my morality or not.”

Then he sent the brahmins to the charioteer to ask for Garudhamma Sīla.

The charioteer also thought that his morality was not pure, and explained his doubt to the brahmins thus: “Brahmins, I also feel doubt about the purity of my morality. One day, the king went to the park for hunting. On his return, at sunset, there arose black clouds in the sky. Worrying that the king might get wet, I touched the steed with the goad to speed it up. At the touch of the goad, the steed ran swiftly. Since that time, whether we went to the park, the steed ran swiftly. The steed thought that there must be some danger at that spot and that was why the charioteer had touched him with the goad. Whether the king was wet or dry, it was not my fault, but I had given a wrong notion to the well-trained steed and because of this notion the steed had to run at high speed again and again; so, it got very tired. Although I observe Garudhamma Sīla. I have made other beings tired and weary. That’s why I am in doubt about my morality.”

Then, as directed by the charioteer, the brahmins went to a wealthy man, told the reason of their visit and asked for Garudhamma Sīla. The rich man told them how he felt doubtful about his morality thus:

“Brahmins, I have doubt in my Garudhamma Sīla. One day I went to my paddy field, took a handful of rice stalks and tied them to a post at home. Then I thought, I have taken a handful of rice stalks from the field that I haven’t yet given the king his due. Surely, I must have broken the Garudhamma Sīla that I observe.”

Then the brahmins, as directed by the wealthy man, went to the minister of the royal granaries and asked for Garudhamma Sīla. The minister also thought his morality to be impure and explained his doubt.

“Friends, now I feel doubtful concerning the Garudhamma Sīla that I observe. One day, while I was measuring the paddy for the king’s tax at the door of the granary, I took a handful of paddy from the heap which was not yet measured and put it down as a marker. At that moment the rain began to fall. I put the paddy used as the marker onto the heap which had been measured and took shelter from the rain. I wondered whether I threw the marker onto the measured heap or onto the unmeasured heap. If I threw them onto what had already been measured, the king’s property would be increased, and the owner would have lost some paddy. So, I have doubt about my morality.

Although the minister of the royal granaries made the brahmins write down the moral precepts he observed, he was not satisfied with the precepts himself. So, he told them to get Garudhamma Sīla from the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper also expressed his doubt in his morality thus:

‘Brahmins, I am in doubt about the Garudhamma Sīla I observe. One day, at the time of closing the city gate, I cried aloud about three times. On hearing my cry, a poor man ran quickly taking a girl by the hand. I blamed him for making love in the forest the whole day and running quickly when the gate was about to be closed. The man told me, ‘No master, she is not my wife. She is my sister.’ Although I do observe Garudhamma Sīla, I have spoken unseemly words to others. Surely I must have breached my morality and I have been feeling doubtful of my Garudhamma Sīla ever since. So, I don’t want to give you my Garudhamma Sīla.’

Although the gate-keeper let the brahmins write down his Garudhamma Sīla, he told them to get it from a courtesan as he was not satisfied with the precepts himself.

The courtesan also explained how she felt doubtful about her morality thus:

“I do keep Garudhamma Sīla well. One day, a youth came and gave me one thousand coins and departed. I waited for that man for three years. I took nothing from any other man. By degrees, I got poor and went to the court for judgement. The chief judge told me that if that man had not come for three years, I need not wait for him and I could earn my living as before. As soon as I left the court, a young man came and offered me one thousand coins. When I held out my hand to accept it, the man who gave me a thousand coins three years ago suddenly appeared. On seeing him, I drew back my hand and told the second young man to forgive me. Of course, the youth who disappeared for three years was Sakka, King of the devas.

Sakka, standing in space, told the citizens thus: “I gave her one thousand coins three years ago to test her morality. Those who keep morality must keep it like her. And then Sakka filled my house with seven kinds of jewels and returned to his celestial abode.

The courtesan refused to give her Garudhamma Sīla saying, “Because I held out my hand to accept one thousand coins from another man, though I had accepted one thousand coins before, I take my morality to be imperfect. So, I don’t want to give you my Garudhamma Sīla. The Brahmin said that merely to hold out the hand could not be a breach of morality, and they again asked for Garudhamma Sīla. So, the courtesan had to give it to them.

The brahmins wrote down Garudhamma Sīla on the gold-leaf and returned to the city of Dantapūra. There they gave Garudhamma Sīla to King Kaliṅga telling him what they had known in detail.

King Kaliṅga himself practised Garudhamma Sīla and asked his people to observe it. Very soon owing to these merits, rains came. The three catastrophes, namely, famine, war and epidemic disease, were allayed and the country became prosperous.

From this story we learnt that virtuous ones observe the five moral precepts strictly, taking great care even to avoid minor offences. We also learn that the country where the people observed moral precepts well surpassed in wealth and prosperity the country where the citizens did not keep their morality, and that because the residents of Kuru Kingdom, including the king and even the courtesan, observed the moral precepts well, the land was fertile and the country was prosperous, free from all diseases, Kuru Kingdom was situated near old Delhi.

At the time of the Buddha, when he looked for the place and the people to expound the sublime and profound Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta, he chose Kuru Kingdom and its citizens, because it was affluent and its citizens observed the moral precepts well and also possessed good health and discriminative knowledge. Here, it should be noted that one will be prosperous only if one observes the moral precepts well.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad