Before the rebirth of their Teacher, the plague broke out in the kingdom of the Vajjians. In one house after another, at a single stroke, ten or twenty persons died, but those who went out of the kingdom saved their lives. Knowing this, a certain man took his own son and wife and departed from that kingdom with the intention of going to another kingdom. Now while they were on their way, and before they had got clear of the wilderness, the provisions for the journey which the man had obtained in his house became exhausted, and the strength of their bodies gave out. First the mother would carry the child, and then the father.
Now the father of the child thought: "The strength of our bodies is exhausted. If we carry the child with us as we go, we shall not be able to complete our journey." Accordingly, taking care that the child's mother should not know what he was doing, pretending that he had fallen behind for the purpose of making water, he set the child down on the road and resumed his journey quite alone.
Now his wife, who stood watching for him to approach, not seeing the child in his arms, ran towards him screaming. "Husband, where is my child?" said she. "What need have you of a child? If we live, we shall have a child." Said she: "This man is indeed an utter brute!" And she said to him: "Begone! I will not go with such as you!" After thinking the matter over, he said: "Wife, pardon me for what I have done." And taking the child, he continued the journey.
In the evening, when they had got clear of the wilderness, they reached a certain cowherd's house. Now that day the members of the cowherd's household had cooked rich rice-porridge. On seeing the travelers, they reflected: "These travelers are excessively hungry." So filling a great bowl with rice-porridge, and sprinkling the porridge with a ladleful of ghee, they gave it to them. Husband and wife ate that porridge, and the woman ate only a reasonable amount. But the man ate far more than was good for him, was unable to digest what he had eaten, and died at midnight.
When the man died, he received, because of his attachment for the cowherds, a new conception in the womb of a bitch that lived in the cowherds' house. In no very long time the bitch gave birth to a pup. The cowherd, observing that that pup was a very handsome dog, coaxed him with morsels of food, got the dog very fond of him, and took him with him wherever he went.
Now one day, at the usual time for making the rounds for alms, a certain Private Buddha arrived at the door of the cowherd's house. The cowherd, seeing him, gave him alms and obtained his promise to enter upon residence as his own guest. The Private Buddha entered upon residence at a spot not far from the cowherd's house, in a certain forest-grove. Whenever the cowherd went to pay his respects to the Private Buddha, he always took that dog along. Now on the way, in the lairs of wild beasts, he would rap on a tree or a rock to drive the wild beasts away, and that dog came to understand what he did and why he did it.
Now one day that cowherd, while sitting in the company of that Private Buddha, said: "Reverend Sir, we cannot come here every time. But here is a dog that is highly intelligent. When he comes here, you will understand that you are expected to come to our house-door."
One day the cowherd sent the dog, saying: "Get the Private Buddha and come back with him." The dog, hearing his words, went at the usual time for making the rounds for alms, and lay down on his belly at the Private Buddha's feet. The Private Buddha, perceiving, "The dog has come to me," took bowl and robe and started out on the path.
The Private Buddha, for the purpose of testing the dog, left the path on which he was walking and took a different path. The dog went and stood in front of him, but withdrew when the Private Buddha entered upon the path to the cowherd's house. Here and there, where, for the purpose of driving the wild beasts away, the cowherd was in the habit of rapping on a tree or a rock, on reaching any such spot, the dog barked very loud. At sound of him, the wild beasts fled away. Moreover, when it was time to make the rounds for alms, the Private Buddha gave the dog a big, greasy morsel. As a result of getting this morsel, the dog conceived deep affection for the Private Buddha.
When the Private Buddha had kept residence for the three months, the cowherd gave him a cloth sufficient for a set of robes, and said: "Reverend Sir, if it so please you, remain right here; if not, go according to your good pleasure." The Private Buddha intimated by his manner that it was his intention to depart. That cowherd accompanied the Private Buddha a little way, and then turned back. So great was the affection of the dog for the Private Buddha, that when he perceived that the Private Buddha was going away, he was overwhelmed with profound sorrow, his heart broke, and he died and was reborn in the World of the Thirty-three Gods.
Now because, in the days when he used to accompany the Private Buddha, he used to drive the wild beasts away by making a loud noise, therefore, in the World of the Thirty-three Gods, when he talked with the deities, the sound of his voice echoed and reechoed throughout the entire City of the Gods. Through this very circumstance he came to be called Deity Ghosaka (He-of-the-voice).
Now while Ghosaka was enjoying this glory in the World of the Thirty-three Gods, in the Path of Men, in the city of Kosambi, a king by the name of Udena entered upon his kingdom. The story of Udena is to be understood precisely as it is written in the Commentary on the Bodhi-Rajakumara Sutta in the Middle Fifty of the Majjhima Nikaya.
Now while Udena was ruling in Kosambi, the deity Ghosaka fell from the City of the Gods and receive a new conception in Kosambi, in the womb of a certain courtezan.
Ghosaka is cast away on a refuse-heap. That courtezan, on the expiration of ten lunar months, brought forth a child, and learning that it was a boy, caused him to be cast away on a refuse-heap.
At that moment a workman of the Treasurer of Kosambi, on his way, very early in the morning, to the Treasurer's house, exclaimed: "What can that be, surrounded by crows?" Approaching, and seeing that it was a boy, he exclaimed: "That boy must be a person of great merit!" Sending the boy to his own home by the hand of a certain man, he went to the Treasurer's house.
As for the Treasurer, when it was time for him to wait upon the king, he set out for the king's house. On the way he saw the house-priest. "What is the constellation in the moon's path to-day?" asked he. The house-priest, standing just where he was, took a reckoning, and said: "Such-and-such is the constellation in the moon's path to-day. A boy born under this constellation will obtain the post of Treasurer in this city."
The Treasurer, hearing these words of the house-priest, quickly sent messengers to his house. Thought he: "This house-priest never makes a mistake in his predictions, and my wife is pregnant." And he said to the messengers: "Just find out whether my wife has given birth to a child or not." They went, found out, and said: "Noble sir, she has not yet given birth to a child."
"Well then," said the Treasurer, "go seek for the boy that was born in this city to-day." They sought for that boy, and seeing him in the house of that Treasurer's workman, reported the fact. "Well then, summon that workman." They summoned him. And the Treasurer asked him: "In your house they say there is a boy." "Yes, Noble sir." "Give that boy to us." "I will not give him to you, Noble sir." "Here! take a thousand pieces of money and give him to us." Said the workman: "This boy may live or die! he's base-born!" And taking the thousand pieces of money, he gave the boy to the Treasurer.
Then thought the Treasurer: "If my wife gives birth to a daughter, I will make this very boy my heir; if she gives birth to a son, I will cause this boy to be killed." His wife gave birth to a son. Then thought the Treasurer: "Thus the cattle will trample him under foot and kill him." And he said to his men: "Lay this boy in the doorway of the cattle-pen." They laid him there.
Now the leader of the herd, the bull, coming out first and seeing the boy, thought: "Thus the other cattle will not trample him under foot." And he inclosed him with his four feet and stood still. And the herdsmen, seeing him, thought: "That boy must be a person of great merit, for even the animals know his virtues! We will take care of him!" They carried him home.
As for that Treasurer, learning that the boy was not dead, hearing that he had been carried off by herdsmen, he gave a thousand pieces of money a second time, had the boy brought to him, and had him cast away in a burning-ground.
Now at that time a goatherd belonging to the Treasurer's household was tending some she-goats near the burning-ground. And a certain milch-goat, by reason of the boy's merit, left the path and went and gave suck to the boy. And although the goatherd drove her out, she went right back there and gave him suck. Thought the goatherd: "This she-goat, ever so early in the morning, left this spot and went elsewhere. What can this mean?" Going thither and looking, he saw the boy. Thought he: "That boy must be a person of great merit, for even the animals know his virtues! I will take care of him!" And picking him up, he carried him home.
On the following day the Treasurer thought: "Is the boy dead, or is he not dead?" Causing his men to look, and learning that the boy had been carried off by a goatherd, he gave a thousand pieces of money and had the boy brought to him. Said he: "To-morrow a certain caravan-leader will enter this city. Carry this boy and lay him in the track of the wheels. Thus, as the carts pass, the wheels will crush him."
They laid the boy there. As he lay there, the oxen harnessed to the foremost cart, that of the caravan-leader, saw him. When they saw him, they planted their legs about him like pillars and stood still. Thought the caravan-leader: "What can this mean?" Looking to see what made them stand still, and seeing the boy, he thought: "The boy must be a person of great merit! I must take care of him!" And picking him up, he carried him off.
As for the Treasurer, he caused his men to look and see whether or not the boy had been killed on the caravan-trail; and learning that he had been carried off by a caravan-leader, he gave him also a thousand pieces of money, had the boy brought to him, and caused him to be thrown down a precipice.
As the boy fell, he fell where some reed-makers were working, on a reed-maker's hut. Through the supernatural power of his merit, it felt exactly like cotton beaten a hundred times. And the leader of the reed-makers thought: "That boy must be a person of great merit! I must take care of him!" And picking him up, he carried him home.
The Treasurer caused a search to be made in the place where the boy had fallen from the precipice, to discover whether or not he was dead; and learning that he had been carried off by the leader of the reed-makers, he gave him also a thousand pieces of money and caused the boy to be brought to him.
After a time both the Treasurer's own son and Ghosaka reached manhood. The Treasurer, once more bethinking himself of some way to effect the youth Ghosaka's death, went to the house of his own potter and said to him secretly: "Master, in my house there is such-and-such a certain base-born youth. By some means or other he must be gotten out of the way!" Thereupon the potter closed both his ears and said: "Such terrible words as those should never be uttered!" Thereupon the Treasurer thought: "This fellow will not do it gratis." So he said to him: "Here, Master, take a thousand pieces of money and do this job!"
There is a proverb: "A bribe breaks the unbroken;" and so it was in this case. The potter immediately took the thousand pieces of money and agreed to the bargain, saying: "I intend, Noble sir, on such-and-such a day, to fire my bake-house. On that day, at such-and-such a time, send him!" The Treasurer, on his part, hearing the words of the potter, agreed to the bargain. And from that moment on, he counted the days.
When the day appointed by the potter arrived, he knew it, and summoning the youth Ghosaka, he said to him: "Son, on such-and- such a day we have need of many vessels. You must go to our potter's and say to him: 'My father tells me that he gave you a certain job to do. Finish it up to-day!'" "Very well," said Ghosaka, promising to do as he was told. So saying, he set out.
When Ghosaka was part way to the potter's, the Treasurer's own son, who was playing marbles, saw him; and going quickly to him, said: "I, dear brother, playing with these youths, have lost ever so much money. Win it back and give it to me." Said Ghosaka: "I have no time now; father has sent me to the potter's on a very important errand." Said his foster-brother: "I, dear brother, will go to the potter's; you recover my stake and give it to me." "Very well, then," said Ghosaka; "go ahead!" So he told his foster-brother the message he himself had been directed to carry, and started playing with the youths.
The Treasurer's own son went to the potter's and delivered that message. "Very well, son," said the potter, "I'll finish up the job!" He took that youth into an inner room, chopped him to pieces with a sharp axe, threw the pieces into a chatty, put the lid on the chatty, set the chatty among his other vessels, and fired the bake-house.
The youth Ghosaka, having won a big stake, sat watching for the return of his younger brother. Observing that the latter was tarrying a long time, he thought: "Why, pray, does he tarry so long?" and went to the potter's common. Seeing him nowhere about, he concluded: "He must have gone home." So he turned around and went home.
The Treasurer saw him approaching even from afar. Thought he: "What, pray, can be the matter? I sent that fellow to the potter's to get him out of the way. But here he is now, coming back again to the very place he started from!" Even as Ghosaka approached, the Treasurer said to him: "Son, didn't you go to the potter's?" "No, father," replied Ghosaka, "I didn't go." "How's that, son?" Then Ghosaka told the Treasurer the reason why he himself turned back, and the reason why his younger brother went to the potter's.
From the moment the Treasurer heard those words, it was as though lie had been overwhelmed by the great earth. Thought he: "Can this that you tell me be true!" His heart palpitating with fear, because it was impossible for him to confide the facts to others, he went ever so quickly to the potter's, and said to him: "Watch out, sir! watch out, sir!" Said the potter: "Why do you tell me to watch out? The particular job you gave me to do is done!" The Treasurer immediately turned back from the potter's and went home. And from that time on he suffered from mental disease.
Even at that time unwilling to eat with him, the Treasurer thought: "I must devote all of my energies to the task of accomplishing, by some means or other, the ruin of the enemy of my son."
He wrote a leaf, summoned the youth Ghosaka, gave him the leaf, and said to him: "In such-and-such a village lives a workman of ours. You are to take this leaf, go to his house, give him the leaf, and say to him: 'My father says that you are to comply immediately with the message on this leaf.' " And he gave him the following message by word of mouth: "On the way lives a certain treasurer who is a friend of ours,--a village-treasurer. You are to go to his house, take your meal there, and then continue your journey."
The youth Ghosaka bowed to the Treasurer, took the leaf, and started out. On the way he went to the place of residence of the village-treasurer. Having inquired the way to his house, he found him seated in a room outside of the gate, shaving himself. He bowed to him and stood waiting. "Whence do you come, youth?" "I am the son of the Treasurer of Kosambi, sir." The village-treasurer was pleased and delighted. Thought he: "He is the son of a treasurer who is a friend of ours!"
Now at that moment a slave-woman belonging to the daughter of that treasurer was on the point of starting out to fetch flowers for the treasurer's daughter. But the treasurer said to her: "Let this errand wait. Bathe the feet of the youth Ghosaka, and spread a bed and give it to him." She did so. Having so done, she went to the shop and brought back flowers for the treasurer's daughter. The treasurer's daughter, seeing her, said: "You've been wasting a lot of time out of the house to-day!" And becoming provoked at her, she said: "What have you been up to all of this time?"
"Say not a word, my lady! I never saw such a handsome youth before in my life! I hear he's the son of a treasurer who's a friend of your father's. I can't begin to describe the beauty he possesses! I was on my way to get flowers for you, when, all of a sudden, your father says to me: 'Bathe the feet of this youth and spread a bed and give it to him.' That's why I was out of the house so long."
Now that treasurer's daughter, in her fourth previous existence, had been the wife of that youth. Therefore from the moment she heard those words, she knew not whether she was standing or sitting. Taking that very slave-woman with her, she went to the place where he lay, and gazed at him as he slept. Seeing a leaf fastened to the hem of his garment, she thought: "What can that leaf mean?" Without awakening the youth, she took the leaf and read it. Then she exclaimed: "This youth is going about carrying his own death-warrant on his very person!" Breaking that leaf in pieces, she wrote another leaf as follows:
"I am sending my son to you. My friend the village-treasurer has a daughter who has reached marriageable age. I command you with all speed to make a levy throughout our jurisdiction, with a hundred each of all kinds of gifts to obtain the daughter of this village-treasurer for my son, to make arrangements for the wedding-ceremonies, and when the wedding-ceremonies are over, to send me word, saying: 'I have done thus and so.' And I shall devise means of doing for you what ought to be done in this matter."
Having written this leaf, she affixed that same seal to it, and before ever that youth had awakened, fastened it to the hem of his garment precisely as the first leaf had been fastened. And that youth, having spent that night in that house, on the following day took leave of the treasurer, went to the village where the workman lived, and gave him the leaf.
The workman, on reading the leaf, gathered the villagers together and said to them: "As for you, you have a way of not taking me into your reckoning. But my master has just sent word to me, telling me to obtain, with a hundred each of all kinds of gifts, a maiden to be the wife of his eldest son. See to it that the amount of the levy is speedily collected and brought together in this place!"
The workman, having made all of the preparations for the wedding-festival, sent a message to the village-treasurer, obtained his consent, completed the wedding-ceremonies with a hundred each of all kinds of gifts, and sent the following leaf to the Treasurer of Kosambi: "I, on hearing the message on the leaf which you sent, did thus and so."
The Treasurer, on hearing that message, was as if burnt with fire. "Now," thought he, "I am ruined!" Worry brought on an attack of dysentery. Thought he: "By some means or other I will summon him and disinherit him." From the time when the wedding-festival was completed, he kept thinking: "Why does my son remain without?" And he sent the following message: "Let him come quickly!"
The youth Ghosaka, on hearing the message, started to go. The Treasurer's daughter thought: "This simpleton does not know who it is through whom he obtained this success. By employing some stratagem or other, I must find some means of preventing him from going." So she said to him: "Youth, don't hurry too fast! When one goes to one's home-village, one should make proper preparations beforehand."
As for the Treasurer of Kosambi, when he perceived that the youth Ghosaka was tarrying, he sent a message a second time: "Why does my son tarry? I am suffering from an attack of dysentery. My son ought to come and see me while I yet remain alive."
At that time the Treasurer's daughter informed him: "That's not your father! you only imagine it's your father! That man sent a leaf to his workman, commanding him to put you out of the way. By removing that leaf and writing a different message, I enabled you to obtain this success. He summons you with this thought in mind: 'I will disinherit him.' Wait until he dies!"
Now when the youth Ghosaka heard that his foster-father was dead (although at that very time he was still alive), he went to the city of Kosambi. As for the Treasurer's daughter, she gave him the peremptory order: "When you enter, post your guards throughout the house; then enter." She herself, entering the house in the immediate company of the Treasurer's son, lifted up both her hands and pretended to weep. The Treasurer of Kosambi lay where it was dark. She went up to him and smote him in the heart with her very head. So weak was he that as the result of that very blow he died.
As for the Treasurer's son, after he had done his duty by his foster-father's body, he gave a bribe to the women-servants, saying: "Say that I am the Great Treasurer's own son." On the seventh day following, the king thought: "I must find some one worthy of the post of Treasurer." And he sent out his men, saying: "Find out whether the Treasurer had a son or not." The Treasurer's women-servants told the king that the youth Ghosaka was the Treasurer's own son. "Very well," said the king, accepting their statement, and gave Ghosaka the post of Treasurer. He became known as Treasurer Ghosaka. Now his wife said to him: "Noble sir, not only are you base-born, but I also was reborn in a poverty-stricken house. But as a result of good deeds performed in previous states of existence, we have obtained all this glory. Now also let us perform good deeds." "Very well, wife," said Ghosaka, consenting. And Ghosaka instituted almsgiving, expending each day a thousand pieces of money.