"There is nothing worse than greed, they say"--This the Master told when he was living at Jetavana about the Elder named Tissa the younger, the keeper of the law concerning food.
For when the Master, they are told, was residing at the Bamboo-grove, near Rajagaha, a young man of a very wealthy family of distinction, by name Prince Tissa, went one day to the Bamboo-grove, and when he had heard the Teacher's discourse, he became desirous to devote himself to a religious life. And when, on his asking leave to enter the Order, his parents refused their consent, he compelled them to grant it, in the same manner as Rattha-Pala had done, by refusing to eat for seven days. And he then took the vows under the Master.
The Master remained at the Bamboo-grove about half a month after receiving him into the Order, and then went to Jetavana. There this young man of family passed his life, begging his daily food in Savatthi, and observing all the Thirteen Practices by which the passions are quelled. So under the name of "The Young Tissa who keeps the law concerning food," he became as distinguished and famous in Buddhadom as the moon in the vault of heaven.
At that time they were holding festival in Rajagaha, and the parents of the monk put away all the jewelry which had belonged to him in the days of his laymanship into a silver casket; and took the matter to heart, weeping, and saying, "At other festivals our boy used to keep the feast wearing this ornament or this. And now Gautama the Mendicant has taken him, him our only son, away to Savatthi! And we know not what fate is falling to him there."
Now a slave-girl coming to the house, and seeing the wife of the lord weeping, asked her, "Why, Lady! do you weep?" And she told her what had happened.
"Well, Lady, what dish was your son most fond of?" said she.
"Such and such a one," was the reply.
"If you grant me full authority in this house, I will bring your son back!" said she.
The Lady agreed, gave her wherewith to pay all her expenses, and sent her forth with a great retinue, saying, "Go now, and by your power bring back my son."
So the girl then went to Savatthi in a planakeen, and took up her abode in the street in which the monk was wont to beg. And without letting him see the people who had come from the lord's house, but surrounding herself with servants of her own, she from the very first provided the Elder when he came there with food and drink. Having thus bound him with the lust of taste, she in due course got him to sit down in her house; and when she saw that by giving him to eat she had brought him into her power, she shammed sickness, and lay down in her inner chamber.
Then the monk, when his begging time had come, arrived on his rounds at the door of the house. An attendant took his bowl, and made him sit down in the house. No sooner had he done so, than he asked, "How is the lady devotee?"
"She is sick, reverend Sir, and wishes to see you," was the reply. And he, bound by the lust of taste, broke his observance and his vow, and went to the place where she was lying. Then she told him why she had come, and alluring him, so bound him by the lust of taste, that she persuaded him to leave the Order. And having brought him into her power, she seated him in her planakeen, and returned to Rajagaha with all her retinue.
And this news became the common talk. And the monks, assembled in the hall of instruction, began to say one to another, "A slave-girl has brought back Young Tissa, the keeper of the law concerning food, having bound him with the lust of taste."
Then the Master, entering the chapel, sat down on his throne, and said, "On what subject are you seated here talking?"
And they told him the news.
"Not now only, O mendicants!" said he, "has this monk, caught by the lust of taste, fallen into her power; formerly also he did the same." And he told a story.
"Once upon a time BRAHMADATTA, the king of Benares, had a gardener named SANJAYA. Now a swift antelope who had come to the garden took to flight as soon as it saw Sanjaya. But Sanjaya did not frighten it away; and when it had come again and again it began to walk about in the garden. And day by day the gardener used to pluck the various fruits and flowers in the garden, and take them away to the king.
"Now one day the king asked him, 'I say, friend gardener, is there anything strange in the garden so far as you've noticed?'
"'I've noticed nothing, O king! save that an antelope is in the habit of coming and wandering about there. That I often see.'
"'But could you catch it?'
"'If I had a little honey, I could bring it right inside the palace here!'
"The king gave him the honey; and he took it, went to the garden, smeared it on the grass at the spot the antelope frequented, and hid himself. When the deer came, and had eaten the honey-smeared grass, it was bound with the lust of taste; and from that time went nowhere else, but came exclusively to the garden. And as the gardener saw that it was allured by the honey-smeared grass, he in due course showed himself. For a few days the antelope took to flight on seeing him. But after seeing him again and again, it acquired confidence, and gradually came to eat grass from the gardener's hand. And when the gardener saw that its confidence was gained, he strewed the path right up to the palace as thick with branches as if he were covering it with mats, hung a gourdful of honey over his shoulder, carried a bundle of grass at his waist, and then kept sprinkling honey-smeared grass in front of the antelope till he led him within the palace.
"As soon as the deer had got inside, they shut the door. The antelope, seeing men, began to tremble and quake with the fear of death, and ran hither and thither about the hall. The king came down from his upper chamber, and seeing that trembling creature, said, 'Such is the nature of an antelope, that it will not go for a week afterwards to a place where it has seen men, nor its life long to a place where it has been frightened. Yet this one, with just such a disposition, and accustomed only to the jungle, has now, bound by the lust of taste, come to just such a place. Verily there is nothing worse in the world than this lust of taste!' And he summed up the lesson in this stanza:
"'There's nothing worse than greed, they say,
"And when in other words he had shown the danger of greed, he let the antelope go back to the forest."
When the Master had finished this discourse in illustration of what he had said ("Not now only O mendicants! has this monk, caught by the lust of taste, fallen into her power; formerly also he did the same"), he made the connection, and summed up the Jataka as follows: "He who was then Sanjaya was this slave-girl, the antelope was the monk, but the king of Benares was I myself."