The Perfection of Wisdom - Dasannaka Jataka I

In the “Dasannaka Jataka”(no. 401) the danger and disadvantage of clinging has been explained. We read in the Commentary to the “Dasannaka Jataka” :

“At the time that the Bodhisatta was the wise Senaka, the royal councillor,

Maha-Moggallana was the wise Åyura,

and Sariputta was the wise Pukkusa.

The son of the King’s household priest came to wait on the King

and when he saw the queen he became enamoured,

and when he went home he lay down without taking food.

When the King came to know about this,

he gave the queen to him for seven days,

but asked him to send her back on the eighth day.

However, it appeared that the son of the household priest

and the queen became enamoured of each other

and had fled to another country.

The King suffered great sorrow and became very sick.

The royal physicians could not cure him.

The Bodhisatta knew that the King did not suffer a bodily ailment,

but that he was touched by mental sickness because he did not see the queen.

He thought of using a specific trick to cure him.

He arranged for a display where the King could see a man swallowing a sword

with a sharp edge which was thirtythree inches long.

Thereupon the King asked the wise Åyura (in the first stanza)

whether there was anything harder to do than swallowing this sword.

The wise Åyura, who was to be in his last life Maha-Moggallana,

answered (in the second stanza), that saying,

‘I shall give this away’, is more difficult.”

This shows that clinging to visible object, sound and the other sense objects is extremely difficult to give up. If someone still clings, how can he say that he will give something away? We read:

“When the King had heard the words of the wise Åyura, he thought,

‘I have said that I would give the queen to the son of the household priest,

and so I have done what is very hard to do.’

Hence his sorrow at heart became a little lighter,

since he had done what was hard to do.


The King wondered whether there was something else harder to do than saying,

‘I shall give something to someone else’.

He considered that speaking in such a way is difficult,

but he wondered whether there was something else more difficult.

Thereupon the King asked the wise Pukkusa (in the third stanza)

whether there was anything else more difficult to do than saying that

one would give something away.

Thereupon the wise Pukkusa spoke, in order to solve this problem, the fourth stanza:

‘People do not value words that are vainly spoken,

and that are without effect.

But when someone makes a promise and can decrease clinging,

this is more difficult than swallowing a sword or merely promising something.’ ”


This passage deals with sincerity, with truthfulness pertaining to one’s thinking

and to the words one has spoken. Thus, someone may say that he shall give,

but it is more difficult to truly give. When confidence in kusala, saddha, arises,

someone may say that he shall give, but afterwards he may not be able to give.

It is more difficult to act according to one’s promise. When there is sincerity and

truthfulness someone is able to follow up in action what he has promised.


Topic 280