The alternative of the stick or a draught of nauseous filth cures a wife of feigned illness.
Picture by : PongPang
Coloured by : Mint, PongPang
The Origin of the Story
This story was told by the Lord Buddha while was dwelling at Jetavana monastery, about a woman in the city of Savatthi. She is said to have been the wicked wife of a good and virtuous Brahmin who was a lay-disciple. Her nights she spent in gadding about whilst by day she did not a stroke of work but made out to be ill and lay abed groaning. When her husband asked, ‘What is the matter with you, my dear?’ ‘Wind troubles me.’, said she.
‘What can I get for you?’ asked He.
‘Sweets, savories, rich food, rice-gruel, boiled-rice, oil, and so forth.’
The obedient husband did as she wished and toiled like a slave for her. She meantime kept her bed while her husband was about the house but no sooner saw the door shut on him than she was in the arms of her paramours.
‘My poor wife doesn’t seem to get any better of the wind,’ thought the Brahmin at last and betook himself with offerings of perfumes, flowers, and the like, to the Master at Jetavana monastery. His obeisance done, he stood before the Blessed One who asked him, ‘why have you been absent so long, my son?’ The Brahmin explained the reason of having no time to pay a visit to the Master. Said the Lord Buddha who knew the wife’s wickedness, ‘Ah! Brahmin, the wise and good of days gone by taught you how to physic a woman suffering like your wife from so stubborn an ailment. But re-birth has confused your memory so that you forget.’ So saying, He told the following story of the past.
Once upon a time when King Brahmadatta was reigning the Kingdom of Benares, the Bodhisatta was born a Brahmin in a very distinguished family. After perfecting his education at the city of Takkasila, he became a teacher of world-wide fame in Benares city. To him flocked as pupils the young nobles and Brahmins from all the princely and wealthy families. Now a country Brahmin who had learned from the Bodhisatta the three Vedas and the eighteen Sciences and who stopped on in Benares to look after his estate came two or three times every day to listen to the Bodhisatta’s teachings. This Brahmin had a wife who was a bad wicked woman. And everything came to pass as above. When the Brahmin explained how it was that he could not get away to listen to his master’s teachings, the Bodhisatta, who knew that the Brahmin’s wife was only feigning sickness, thought to himself, ‘I will tell him what physic will cure the creature.’
So he said to the Brahmin, ‘Get her no more dainties, my son, but collect the dungs of cows and therein souse five kinds of fruit and so forth and let the lot pickle in a new copper pot till the whole savors of the metal. Then take a rope or cord or stick and go to your wife and tell her plainly she must either swallow the safe cure you have brought her, or else work for her food. (And here you will repeat certain lines which I will tell you. If she refuses the remedy then threaten to let her have a taste of the rope or stick and to drag her about for a time by the hair while you pummel her with your fists. You will find that at the mere threat she will be up and about her work.’
So off went the Brahmin and brought his wife a mess prepared as the Bodhisatta had directed. The wife asked, ‘Who prescribed this?’ ‘The master,’ said her husband. ‘Take it away. I won’t have it.’
‘So you won’t have it, eh?’ said the young Brahmin, taking up the rope end. ‘Well then, you’ve either got to swallow down this safe cure or else to work for honest fare.’
Terrified by this, the woman Kosiya realized from the moment the master interfered how impossible it was to deceive him and getting up, went about her work. And the consciousness that the master knew her wickedness made her repent and become as good as she had formerly been wicked.
His lesson ended, the Lord Buddha identified the Birth by saying, ‘The husband and wife of today were the husband and wife of the story, and I was the Master.’