"What he sees,"--This story the Master told at Jetavana, about a turn tail vagrant who wandered about the country.
It is said that this man could not find any one to argue with him in all India; till he came to Savatthi, and asked whether any one could dispute with him. Yes--he was told--the Supreme Buddha; hearing which, he and a multitude with him repaired to Jetavana, and put a question to the Master, whilst he was discoursing in the midst of the four kinds of disciples. The Master answered his question, and then put one to him in return. This the man failed to answer, got up, and turned tail. The crowd sitting round exclaimed, "One word, Sir, vanquished the itinerant!" Said the Master, "Yes, Brethren, and just as I have vanquished him now with one word, so I did before." Then he told a story of olden days.
"Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisattva was born a Brahmin in the kingdom of Kasi. He grew up, and mastered his passions; and embracing the religious life, he dwelt a long time in the Himalayas.
"He came down from the highlands, and took up his abode near a considerable town, in a hut of leaves built beside a bend of the river Ganges. A certain pilgrim, who found no one that could answer him throughout all India, came to that town. 'Is there anyone,' asked he, 'who can argue with me?'
"Yes, they said, and told him the power of the Bodhisattva. So, followed by a great multitude, he made his way to the place where the Bodhisattva dwelt, and after greeting him, took a seat.
"'Will you drink,' he asked, 'of the Ganges water, infused with wild wood odors?'
"The pilgrim tried to catch him in his words. 'What is Ganges? Ganges may be sand, Ganges may be water, Ganges may be the near bank, Ganges may be the far bank!'
"Said the Bodhisattva to the pilgrim, 'Besides the sand, the water, the hither and the further bank, what other Ganges can you have?' The pilgrim had no answer for this; he rose up, and went away. When he had gone the Bodhisattva spake these verses by way of discourse to the assembled multitude:--
"'What he sees, he will not have;
"'He contemns what he has got;
When this discourse was ended, the Master identified the Birth: "The vagrant is the same in both cases, and I myself was then the ascetic."