"Far rather will I fall into this hell."--This the Master told while at Jetavana, about Anatha Pindika.
For Anatha Pindika having squandered fifty-four thousands of thousands in money on the Buddhist Faith about the Monastery, and holding nothing elsewhere in the light of a treasure, save only the Three Treasures (the Buddha, the Truth, and the Order), used to go day after day to take part in the Three Great Services, once in the morning, once after breakfast, and once in the evening.
There are intermediate services too. And he never went empty-handed, lest the lads, and the younger brethren, should look to see what he might have brought. When he went in the morning he would take porridge; after breakfast ghee, butter, honey, molasses, and so on; in the evening perfumes, garlands, and robes. Thus offering day after day, the sum of his gifts was beyond all measure. Traders, too, left writings with him, and took money on loan from him up to eighteen thousands of thousands, and the great merchant asked it not again of them. Other eighteen thousands of thousands, the property of his family, was put away and buried in the river bank; and when the bank was broken in by a storm they were washed away to the sea, and the brazen pots rolled just as they were--closed and sealed--to the bottom of the ocean. In his house again a constant supply of rice was ordered to be kept in readiness for five hundred members of the Order, so that the Merchant's house was to the Order like a public pool dug where four high roads meet; and he stood to them in the place of father and mother. On that account even the Supreme Buddha himself used to go to his residence; and the Eighty Chief Elders also; and the number of other monks coming and going was beyond measure.
Now his mansion was seven stories high, and there were seven great gates to it, with battlemented turrets over them; and in the fourth turret there dwelt a fairy who was a heretic. When the Supreme Buddha entered the house, she was unable to stop up above in the turret, but used to bring her children downstairs and stand on the ground floor; and so she did when the Eighty Chief Elders, or the other monks were coming in or going out.
And she thought, "So long as this mendicant Gautama and his disciples come to the house, there is no peace for me. I can't be eternally going downstairs again and again, to stand on the ground floor; I must manage so that they come no more to the house."
So one day, as soon as the chief business manager had retired to rest, she went to him, and stood before him in visible shape.
"Who's there?" said he.
"It's I; the Fairy who dwells in the turret over the fourth gate."
"What are you come for?"
"You are not looking after the Merchant's affairs. Paying no thought to his last days, he takes out all his money, and makes the mendicant Gautama full of it. He undertakes no business, and sets no work on foot. Do you speak to the Merchant so that he may attend to his business; and make arrangements so that that mendicant Gautama and his disciples shall no longer come to the place."
But the other said to her, "O foolish Fairy! the Merchant in spending his money spends it on the religion of the Buddhas, which leadeth to salvation. Though I should be seized by the hair, and sold for a slave, I will say no such thing. Begone with you!"
Another day the Fairy went to the Merchant's eldest son, and persuaded him in the same manner. But he refused her as before. And to the Merchant himself she did not dare to speak.
Know by constantly giving gifts, and doing no business, the Merchant's income grew less and less, and his wealth went to ruin. And as he sank more and more into poverty, his property, and his dress, and his furniture, and his food were no longer as they had been. He nevertheless still used to give gifts to the Order; but he was no longer able to give of the best.
One day when he had taken his seat, after saluting the Teacher, he said to him, "Well, householder! are gifts still given at your house?"
"They are still being given, Lord," said he, "but only a mere trifle of stale second day's porridge."
Then said the Master to him, "Don't let your heart be troubled, householder, that you give only what is unpleasant to the taste. For if the heart be only right, a gift given to Buddhas, or Pacceka Buddhas, or their disciples, can never be otherwise than right. And why? Through the greatness of the result. For that he who can cleanse his heart can never give unclean gifts is declared in the passage--
"If only there be a believing heart,
And again he said to him, "Householder! although the gift you are giving is but poor, you are giving it to the Eight Noble Beings. Now when I was Velama, and gave away the Seven Treasures, ransacking the whole continent of India to find them, and kept up a great donation, as if I had turned the five great rivers into one great mass of water, yet I attained not even to taking refuge in the Three Gems, or to keeping the Five Precepts, so unfit were they who received the gifts. Let not your heart be troubled, therefore, because your gifts are trifling." And so saying, he preached to him the Velamika Sutta.
Now the Fairy, who before had not cared to speak to the Merchant, thinking, "Now that this man has come to poverty, he will listen to what I say," went at midnight to his chamber, and appeared in visible shape before him.
"Who's there?" said the Merchant on seeing her.
"'Tis I, great Merchant; the Fairy who dwells in the turret over the fourth gate."
"What are you come for?"
"Because I wish to give you some advice."
"O great Merchant! you take no thought of your last days. You regard not your sons and daughters. You have squandered much wealth on the religion of Gautama the mendicant. By spending your money for so long a time, and by undertaking no fresh business, you have become poor for the sake of the mendicant Gautama. Even so you are not rid of the mendicant Gautama. Up to this very day the mendicants swarm into your house. What you have lost you can never restore again; but henceforth neither go yourself to the mendicant Gautama, nor allow his disciples to enter your house. Turn not back even to behold the mendicant Gautama, but attend to your own business, and to your own merchandise, and so reestablish the family estates."
Then said he to her, "Is this the advice you have to offer me?"
"Yes; this is it."
"He whose power is Wisdom has made me immovable by a hundred, or thousand, or even a hundred thousand supernatural beings such as you. For my faith is firm and established like the great mountain Sineru. I have spent my wealth on the Treasure of the Religion that leads to Salvation. What you say is wrong; it is a blow that is given to the Religion of the Buddhas by so wicked a hag as you are, devoid of affection. It is impossible for me to live in the same house with you. Depart quickly from my house, and begone elsewhere!"
When she heard the words of the converted, saintly disciple, she dared not stay; and going to the place where she dwelt, she took her children by the hand, and went away. But though she went, she determined, if she could get no other place of abode, to obtain the Merchant's forgiveness, and return and dwell even there. So she went to the guardian god of the city, and saluted him, and stood respectfully before him.
"What are you come here for?" said he.
"Sir! I have been speaking thoughtlessly to Anatha Pindika; and he, enraged with me, has driven me out from the place where I dwelt. Take me to him, and persuade him to forgive me, and give me back my dwelling-place."
"What is it you said to him?"
"'Henceforth give no support to the Buddha, or to the Order of Mendicants, and forbid the mendicant Gautama the entry into your house.' This, Sir, is what I said."
"You said wrong. It was a blow aimed at religion. I can't undertake to go with you to the Merchant!"
Getting no help from him, she went to the four Archangels, the guardians of the world. And when she was refused by them in the same manner, she went to Sakka, the King of the Gods, and telling him the whole matter, besought him urgently, saying, "O God! deprived of my dwelling-place, I wander about without a shelter, leading my children by the hand. Let me in your graciousness be given some place where I may dwell!"
And he, too, said to her, "You have done wrong! You have aimed a blow at the religion of the Conqueror. It is impossible for me to speak on your behalf to the Merchant. But I can tell you one means by which the Merchant may pardon you."
"It is well, O God. Tell me what that may be!"
"People have had eighteen thousands of thousands of money from the Merchant on giving him writings. Now take the form of his manager, and without telling anybody, take those writings, surround yourself with so many young ogres, go to their houses with the writings in one hand, and a receipt in the other, and stand in the center of the house and frighten them with your demon power, and say, 'This is the record of your debt. Our Merchant said nothing to you in bygone day; but now he is fallen into poverty. Pay back the moneys which you had from him.' Thus, by displaying your demon power, recover all those thousands of gold, and pour them into the Merchant's empty treasury. There was other wealth of his buried in the bank of the river Aciravati, which, when the river-bank was broken, was washed away to the sea. Bring that back by your power, and pour it into his treasury. In such and such a place, too, there is another treasure of the sum of eighteen thousands of thousands, which has no owner. That too bring, and pour it into his empty treasury. "When you have undergone this punishment of refilling his empty treasury with these fifty-four thousands of thousands, you may ask the Merchant to forgive you."
"Very well, my Lord!" said she; and agreed to what he said, and brought back all the money in the way she was told; and at midnight entered the Merchant's bed-chamber, and stood before him in visible shape.
"Who's there?" said he.
"It is I, great Merchant! the blind and foolish Fairy who used to dwell in the turret over your fourth gate. In my great and dense stupidity, and knowing not the merits of the Buddha, I formerly said something to you; and that fault I beg you to pardon. For according to the word of Sakka, the King of the Gods, I have performed the punishment of filling your empty treasury with fifty-four thousands of thousands I have brought--the eighteen thousands of thousands owing to you which I have recovered, the eighteen thousands of thousands lost in the sea, and eighteen thousands of thousands of ownerless money in such and such a place. The money you spent on the monastery at Jetavana is now all restored. I am in misery so long as I am allowed no place to dwell in. Keep not in your mind the thing I did in my ignorance, but pardon me, great Merchant!"
When he heard what she said, Anatha Pindika thought, "She is a goddess, and she says she has undergone her punishment, and she confesses her sin. The Master shall consider this, and make his goodness known. I will take her before the Supreme Buddha." And he said to her, "Dear Fairy! if you wish to ask me to pardon you, ask it in the presence of the Buddha!"
"Very well. I will do so," said she. "Take me with you to the Master!"
To this he agreed. And when the night was just passing away, he took her, very early in the morning, to the presence of the Master; and told him all that she had done.
When the Master heard it, he said, "You see, O householder, how the sinful man looks upon sin as pleasant, so long as it bears no fruit; but when its fruit ripens, then he looks upon it as sin. And so the good man looks upon his goodness as sin so long as it bears no fruit; but when its fruit ripens, then he sees its goodness." And so saying, he uttered the two stanzas in the Scripture Verses:
"The sinner thinks the sin is good.
"The good think goodness is but sin.
And at the conclusion of the verses the Fairy was established in the Fruit of Conversion. And she fell at the wheel-marked feet of the Teacher, and said, "My Lord! lustful, and infidel, and blind as I was, I spake wicked words in my ignorance of your character. Grant me thy pardon!"
Then she obtained pardon both from the Teacher and from the Merchant.
On that occasion Anatha Pindika began to extol his own merit in the Teacher's presence, saying, "My Lord! though this Fairy forbad me to support the Buddha, she could not stop me; and though she forbad me to give gifts, I gave them still. Shall not this be counted to my merit, my Lord?"
But the Teacher said, "You, O householder, are a Converted person, and one of the Elect disciples. Your faith is firm, you have the clear insight of those who are walking in the First Path. It is no wonder that you were not turned back at the bidding of this weak Fairy, But that formerly the wise who lived at a time when a Buddha had not appeared, and when knowledge was not matured, should still have given gifts, though Mara, the Lord of the angels of the Realms of Lust, stood in the sky, and told them to give no gifts; and showing them a pit full of live coals eighty cubits deep, called out to them, 'If you give the gift, you shall be burnt in this hell'--that was a wonder!"
And at the request of Anatha Pindika, he told the tale.
"Long ago, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisattva came to life in the family of the Treasurer of Benares, and was brought up in much luxury, like a prince. And he arrived in due course at years of discretion; and even when he was but sixteen years old he had gained the mastery over all branches of knowledge.
"At the death of his father he was appointed to the office of Treasurer, and had six Gift-halls built,--four at the four gates, and one in the midst of the city, and one at the entrance to his mansion. And he gave Gifts, and kept the Precepts, and observed the Sabbath-days.
"Now one day when pleasant food of all sweet tastes was being taken in for the Bodhisattva at breakfast-time, a Pacceka Buddha, who had risen from a seven days' trance, saw that the time had come for him to seek for food.
"And thinking he ought to go that day to the door of the Benares Treasurer's house, he washed his face with water from the Anotatta lake, and used a toothpick made from the betel-creeper, put on his lower robe as he stood on the table-land of Mount Manosila, fastened on his girdle, robed himself, took a begging-bowl he created for the purpose, went through the sky, and stood at the door of the house just as the breakfast was being taken in to the Bodhisattva.
"As soon as the Bodhisattva saw him, he rose from his seat, and looked at a servant who was making the preparations.
"'What shall I do, Sir?' said he.
"'Bring the gentleman's bowl,' said his master.
"That moment Mara the Wicked One was greatly agitated, and rose up, saying, 'It is seven days since this Pacceka Buddha received food. If he gets none to-day, he will perish. I must destroy this fellow, and put a stop to the Treasurer's gift.'
"And he went at once and caused a pit of live coals, eighty fathoms deep, to appear in the midst of the house. And it was full of charcoal of Acacia-wood; and appeared burning and flaming, like the great hell of Avici. And after creating it, he himself remained in the sky.
"When the man, who was coming to fetch the bowl, saw this, he was exceeding terrified, and stopped still.
"'What are you stopping for, my good man?' asked the Bodhisattva.
"'There is a great pit of live coals burning and blazing in the very middle of the house. Sir!' said he. And as people came up one after another, they were each overcome with fear, and fled hastily away.
"Then thought the Bodhisattva, 'Vasavatti Mara must be exerting himself with the hope of putting an obstacle in the way of my almsgiving. But I am not aware that I can he shaken by a hundred or even a thousand Maras. This day I will find out whether my power or Mara's--whether my might or Mara's--is the greater.'
"And he himself took the dish of rice just as it stood there ready, and went out, and stood on the edge of the pit of fire; and looking up to the sky, saw Mara, and said--
"'Who are you?'
"'I am Mara,' was the reply.
"'Is it you who created this pit of fire?'
"'Certainly, I did it.'
"'And what for?'
"'Simply to put a stop to your almsgiving, and destroy the life of that Pacceka Buddha!'
"'And I'll allow you to do neither the one nor the other. Let us see this day whether your power or mine is the greater!' And still standing on the edge of the pit of fire, he exclaimed--
"'My Lord, the Pacceka Buddha! I will not turn back from this pit of coal, though I should fall into it headlong. Take now at my hands the food I have bestowed, even the whole of it.' And so saying, he uttered the stanza:
"'Far rather will I fall into this hell
"And as he so said, he held the dish of rice with a firm grasp, and walked right on into the fiery furnace!
"And that instant there arose a beautiful large lotus-flower, up and up, from the bottom of the depth of the fiery pit, and received the feet of the Bodhisattva. And from it there came up about a peck of pollen, and fell on the Great Being's head, and covered his whole body with a sprinkling of golden dust. Then standing in the midst of the lotus-flower, he poured the food into the Pacceka Buddha's bowl.
"And he took it, and gave thanks, 'and threw the bowl aloft; then rose himself into the sky, in the sight of all the people; and treading as it were on the clouds whose various shapes formed a belt across the heavens, he passed away to the mountain regions of Himalaya.
"Mara too, sorrowing over his defeat, went away to the place where he dwelt.
"But the Bodhisattva, still standing on the lotus, preached the Law to the people in praise of charity and righteousness; and then returned to his house, surrounded by the multitude. And he gave gifts, and did other good works his life long, and then passed away according to his deeds."
The Teacher then concluded this discourse in illustration of his words, "This is no wonder, householder, that you, having the insight of those who are walking in the First Path, should now have been unmoved by the Fairy; but what was done by the wise in former times, that was the wonder." And he established the connection, and summed up the Jataka, by saying, "There the then Pacceka Buddha died, and on his death no new being was formed to inherit his Karma; but he who gave alms to the Pacceka Buddha, standing on the lotus after defeating the Tempter, was I myself."