41. The Curse of Mittavinda [Chapter 2. Greed]
Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Little did poor Mittavinda know that his lives of constant hunger were about to come to an end. After wandering about, he eventually ended up in Benares.
At that time the Enlightenment Being was living the life of a world famous teacher in Benares. He had 500 students. As an act of charity, the people of the city supported these poor students with food. They also paid the teacher’s fees for teaching them.
Mittavinda was permitted to join them. He began studying under the great teacher. And at last, he began eating regularly.
But he paid no attention to the teachings of the wise master. He was disobedient and violent. During 500 lives as a hungry dog, quarrelling had become a habit. So he constantly got into fist fights with the other students.
It became so bad that many of the students quit. The income of the world famous teacher dwindled down to almost nothing. Because of all his fighting, Mittavinda was finally forced to run away from Benares.
He found his way to a small remote village. He lived there as a hard working labourer, married a very poor woman, and had two children.
It became known that he had studied under the world famous teacher of Benares. So the poor villagers selected him to give advice when questions arose. They provided a place for him to live near the entrance to the village. And they began following his advice.
But things did not go well. The village was fined seven times by the king. Seven times their houses were burned. And seven times the town pond dried up.
They realized that all their troubles began when they started taking Mittavinda’s advice. So they chased him and his family out of the village. They shouted, “Be gone forever! You are nothing but a curse!"
While they were fleeing, they went through a haunted forest. Demons came out of the shadows and killed and ate his wife and children. But Mittavinda escaped.
He made his way to a seaport city. He was lonely, miserable and penniless. It just so happened that there was a kind generous rich merchant living in the city. He heard the story of Mittavinda’s misfortunes. Since they had no children of their own, he and his wife adopted Mittavinda. For better or worse they treated him exactly as their own son.
His new mother and father were very religious. They always tried to do wholesome things. But Mittavinda still had not learned his lesson. He did not accept any religion, so he often did unwholesome things.
Some time after his father’s death, his mother decided to try and help him enter the religious life. She said, “There is this world and there is the one to come. If you do bad things, you will suffer painful results in both worlds."
But foolish Mittavinda replied, “I will do whatever I enjoy doing and become happier and happier. There is no point considering whether what I do is wholesome or unwholesome. I don’t care about such things!"
On the next full moon holy day, Mittavinda’s mother advised him to go to the temple and listen all night long to the wise words of the monks. He said, “I wouldn’t waste my time!" So she said, “When you return I will give you a thousand gold coins."
Mittavinda thought that with enough money he could enjoy himself constantly and be happy all the time. So he went to the temple. But he sat in a corner, paid no attention, and fell asleep for the night. Early the next morning he went home to collect his reward.
Meanwhile his mother thought he would appreciate wise teachings. Then he would bring the oldest monk home with him. So she prepared delicious food for the expected guest. When she saw him returning alone, she said, “Oh my son, why didn’t you ask the senior monk to come home with you for breakfast?"
He said, “I did not go to the temple to listen to a monk or to bring him home with me. I went only to get your thousand gold coins!" His disappointed mother said, “Never mind the money. Since there is so much delicious food prepared – only eat and sleep!" He replied, “Until you give me the money, I refuse to eat!" So she gave him the thousand gold coins. Only then did he gobble up the food until all he could do was fall asleep.
Mittavinda did not think a thousand gold coins were enough for him to constantly enjoy himself. So he used the money to start a business, and before long he became very rich. One day he came home and said, “Mother, I now have 120,000 gold coins. But I am not yet satisfied. Therefore I will go abroad on the next ship and make even more money!"
She replied, “Oh my son, why do you want to go abroad? The ocean is dangerous and it is very risky doing business in a strange land. I have 80,000 gold coins right here in the house. That is enough for you. Please don’t go, my only son!"
Then she held him to keep him from leaving. But Mittavinda was crazy with greed. So he pushed his mother’s hand away and slapped her face. She fell to the floor. She was so hurt and shocked that she yelled at him, “Be gone forever! You are nothing but a curse!"
Without looking back, Mittavinda rushed to the harbour and set sail on the first departing ship.
INTERPRETER’S INTRODUCTION – BUDDHIST TALES FOR YOUNG AND OLD, VOLUME 1, STORIES 1-50
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