"Those who are dowered,"--This story the Master told while living in Jetavana about one Sujata, a daughter-in-law of Anatha Pindika, daughter of the great merchant Dhananjaya, and youngest sister of Visakha.
They are told that she entered the house of Anatha Pindika full of haughtiness, thinking how great a family she had come from, and she was obstinate, violent, passionate, and cruel; refused to do her part towards her new father and mother, or her husband; and went about the house with harsh words and hard blows for everyone.
One day, the Master and five hundred brothers visited Anatha Pindika's house, and took their seats. The great merchant sat beside the Blessed One, hearkening to his discourse. At the same time Sujata happened to be scolding the servants.
The Master ceased speaking, and asked what that noise was. The merchant explained that it was his rude daughter-in-law; that she did not behave properly towards her husband or his parents, she gave no alms, and had no good points; faithless and unbelieving, she went about the house scolding day and night. The Master bade send for her.
The woman came, and after saluting the Master, she stood on one side. Then the Master addressed her thus:
"Sujata, there are seven kinds of wife a man may have; of which sort are you?" She replied, "Sir, you speak too shortly for me to understand; please explain." "Well," said the Master, "listen attentively," and he uttered the following verses:
"One is bad-hearted, nor compassionates
"Whatever the husband gets for her by trade,
"Careless of duty, lazy, passionate,
"Who evermore compassionates the good,
"She who respects her husband in the way
"She whom her husband's sight will always please
"Calm when abused, afraid of violence,
"These, Sujata, are the seven wives a man may have. Three of these, the Destructive wife, the Dishonest wife, and Madam High and Mighty are reborn in hell; the other four in the Fifth Heaven.
"They who are called Destroyer in this life,
"They who are called the Friendly in this life,
Whilst the Master was explaining these seven kinds of wives, Sujata attained to the Fruit of the First Path; and when the Master asked to which class she belonged, she answered, "I am a slave, Sir!" and respectfully saluting the Buddha, gained pardon of him.
Thus by one admonition the Master tamed the shrew; and after the meal, when he had declared their duties amidst the Brotherhood, he entered his scented chamber.
Now the Brethren gathered together in the Hall of Truth, and sang the Master's praises. "Friend, by a single admonition the Master has tamed a shrew, and raised her to Fruition of the First Path!" The Master entered, and asked what they were talking of as they sat together. They told him. Said he, "Brethren, this is not the first time that I have tamed Sujata by a single admonition." And he proceeded to tell an old-world tale.
"Once upon a time, while Brahmadatta reigned over Benares, the Bodhisattva was born as the son of his Queen Consort. When he grew up he received his education at Takkasila, and after the death of his father, became king and ruled in righteousness.
"His mother was a passionate woman, cruel, harsh, shrewish, ill-tongued. The son wished to admonish his mother; but he felt he must not do anything so disrespectful; so he kept on the look-out for a chance of dropping a hint.
"One day he went down into the grounds, and his mother went with him. A blue jay screeched on the road. At this all the courtiers stopped their ears, crying--
"'What a harsh voice, what a shriek!--don't make that noise!'
"While the Bodhisattva was walking through the park with his mother, and a company of players, a cuckoo, perched amid the thick leaves of a sal tree, sang with a sweet note. All the bystanders were delighted at her voice; clasping their hands, and stretching them out, they besought leer--'Oh, what a soft voice, what a kind voice, what a gentle voice!--sing away, birdie, sing away!' and there they stood, stretching their necks, eagerly listening.
"The Bodhisattva, noting these two things, thought that here was a chance to drop a hint to the queen-mother. 'Mother,' said he, 'when they heard the jay's cry on the road, every body stopped their ears, and called out--Don't make that noise! don't make that noise! and stopped up their ears: for harsh sounds are liked by no body.' And he repeated the following stanzas:
"'Those who are dowered with a lovely-hue,
"'There is a bird that you may often see;
"'Therefore your voice should gentle be and sweet,
"When the Bodhisattva had thus admonished his mother with these three verses, he won her over to his. way of thinking; and ever afterwards sin followed a right course of living. And he having by one word made his mother a self-denying woman afterwards passed away to fare according to his deeds."
When the Master had ended this discourse, he thus identified the Birth: "Sujata was the mother of the king of Benares, and I was the king himself."