Academic Sutta Name Notes PSA Plae Vagga Nikaya PTS Keywords

IX:10 The gem polisher who beat an innocent monk

Once, there was a gem polisher in Savatthi. Everyday, he offered almsfood to a monk who was an Arahant. One day, while the gem polisher was handling a piece of meat, a messenger of King Pasenadi of Kosala arrived with a ruby, which was to be cut and polished and sent back to the king. The gem polisher took the ruby with his hand which was covered with blood, put it on a table and went to wash his hands. The pet bird of the family, seeing the blood-stained ruby and taking it for a piece of meat picked it up and swallowed it in the presence of the monk. When the gem polisher returned, he found that the ruby was missing. He questioned his wife and his son and they answered that they had not taken it. Then he asked the monk who also replied that he did not take it, but the gem polisher was not satisfied. As there was no one else in the house he concluded that the monk might have taken the precious ruby. So, he told his wife that he must torture him to get him to admit the theft.

But his wife replied, 'This monk has been our religious teacher for the last twelve years, and we have never seen him doing anything evil. Please don't accuse him. It would be better to take the king's punishment than to accuse a noble one.' But her husband paid no heed to her words. He took a rope and tied up the monk and beat him many times with a stick, as a result of which the monk bled profusely from the head and nose. The bird, seeing blood and wishing to take it, came close to the monk. The gem polisher who was by then in great rage; kicked the bird with all his might and the bird died on the spot. Then, the monk said, 'Please see whether the bird is dead or not' and the man replied, 'You too shall die like this bird.' When the monk was sure the bird had died, he said softly, 'My disciple, the bird had swallowed the ruby.'

Hearing this, the gem polisher cut up the bird and found the ruby in its stomach. Then, he realised his mistake and trembled with fear. He pleaded with the monk to pardon him and also to continue standing at his door for alms. The monk replied, 'It is not your fault, nor is it mine. This has happened on account of what has been done in our previous existences; it is just our debt in samsara. I feel no ill-will towards you. As a matter of fact, this has happened because I have entered a house. From today, I will not enter any house. I will only stand at the door.'

Soon after, the monk collapsed and passed into Nibbana as a result of his injuries. The bird was reborn as the son of the gem polisher. When the gem polisher died he was reborn in Hell. When the wife died she was reborn, because of her soft-heartedness towards the monk, in one of the deva worlds.

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

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Last modified on: Sunday, 13 August 2000.