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Academic Sutta Name Notes PSA Plae Vagga Nikaya PTS Keywords

XVIII:1 The fate of a butcher and his son

Once, there was a man in Savatthi, who had been a butcher for many years. He also loved eating beef and everyday he insisted on having meat curry with his meals. One day, he kept aside some meat to be cooked for the family, before going out to have his bath in the river. While he was away a friend persuaded his wife to sell the meat and therefore there was no meat curry for the butcher that day. When he discovered this he became very angry and he went to the back of his house, promptly cut off the tongue of an ox, had it baked, and sat down for his meal.

While eating, the butcher tried to take a bite of the ox tongue, but he bit off his own tongue instead. Now, the ox and the butcher were in the same plight. The butcher was in great pain and agony, and blood flowed profusely from his mouth. He had to face a terrible death and was reborn in a miserable state.

The butcher's wife was very frightened and she advised her son to go far away lest this evil should become a curse and befall him too. So the son went to Taxila. At Taxila, the youth became a goldsmith. Later, he married the daughter of his master and a few children were born to them. When their sons came of age he returned to settle down in Savatthi. The sons were devout followers of the Buddha. They were concerned for their father, for he had not done any meritorious deeds in his present existence. So one day, they invited the Buddha and the bhikkhus to their house for almsfood. After the meal they said to the Buddha, 'Venerable Sir, we are making this offering to you today on behalf of our father. Kindly give a discourse to help him to realise the Dhamma.' So the Buddha admonished the man, 'You are getting old. Your body is like a withered leaf. You have to prepare for your future life. Be wise and develop your devotion and spiritual way of life.'

Perceiving the fleeting nature of worldly life and reflecting mindfully on the admonition given by the Enlightened One, the old man attained the first stage of Sainthood.

55/170 Dhammapada & Commentary Khuddhaka J.i.106ff. despair

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Last modified on: Sunday, 13 August 2000.