Extract 4 - Mahosadha and King Videha

For an explanation of words in Pali - the language of the time of the Buddha - please see the Pali Glossary.

Ven. Webu Sayadaw: You all know about the life in which the Bodhisatta was Mahosadha. The Bodhisatta took it upon himself to make all beings happy. Videha, the king, loved the Bodhisatta very much and employed him in his services. Even so, did King Videha recognise the lies of those who were close to him?

Disciple: No sir, he didn’t.

Sayadaw: Devinda lied to the king, who didn’t realize he was lying. He didn’t know he was lying because he was lacking in vijjā (knowledge). He hadn’t worked to acquire understanding in the past when he was developing his pāramī, therefore he couldn’t even see through the deceptions practised by other countries. Now, did he understand when those close to him explained things to him?

D: No sir, he didn’t.

S: He couldn’t see through the deceptions of others. He really couldn’t see through them, and his associates knew that no matter how much they tried to clarify things for him, he wouldn’t understand. But a Bodhisatta is concerned with the welfare of all beings. He has a mind that is intent only on making all beings happy, no matter who they are, both now and in the future. He has to make an effort to keep people who lie free from danger, and he makes an effort to protect those who are lied to.

Mahosadha had to accept that the king would not listen to him. Even though the king loved Mahosadha as a son, he listened to other people’s lies. Mahosadha didn’t like it when the king ignored his advice time after time, but this was due to the king’s ignorance. The Bodhi­satta had to take care of everything. He had to look after what was happening in the present and what would happen in the future. Only he could take responsibility for the welfare of all beings. He never tired of taking care of others because he did this in order to be perfect in his conduct and in his understanding. Thus he could attain the goal. It was easy for him, but the king couldn’t understand.

No matter how much the people around the king explained to him that his adversary had invited him in order to kill him, the king wouldn’t believe it. Then the Bodhisatta thought, “By talking to him, trying to make him understand, I am only creating akusala for myself. I will make him understand later.” So the Bodhisatta pretended to agree with the king and went on ahead of the king. He was happy to do that since in that way he could make sure that there was no danger for the king. He could arrange everything in such a way that the king would eventually see the dangers with his own eyes.

Only when he was already in trouble did the king understand. Devinda did not see through the deception until that moment. When the king was in distress, our Bodhisatta’s preparations bore fruit, and everything worked out according to his plans. In this Jātaka, we clearly see who possesses right conduct and right understanding and who doesn’t. It is easy to complete both trainings: the training in right con­duct (caraṇa) and the training in right understanding (vijjā).