Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - Jataka (previous lives)

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 50207)
Origin Location Mongolia
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Gelug
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Person

Appearance: Buddha

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shakyamuni Buddha, Previous Life Stories (Sanskrit: jataka. Tibetan: kye rab): from the famous Indian text presenting 34 morality tales drawn from the previous life stories of the historical buddha, Shakyamuni.

#17 The Jar of Liquor

The Virtuous Turning Others from Evil

In this lifetime the Bodhisattva ruled the heavens as Shakra, the Lord of Gods, and throughout his entire reign he always worked for the benefit of the all beings.

One day, while gazing out upon the people of the world, he saw a king named Sarva who had a terrible affliction. This king, through having non-virtuous friends had developed a strong taste for liquor. Seeing that the king did not believe there to be anything wrong with drinking, Shakra decided to appear before the man as an apparition.

As the king was getting drunk with his friends and discussing the qualities of various liquors, Shakra manifested as a noble Brahman man, floating in the air above them. He had in his hands a jar and he told the king to buy it. When the king inquired what was in the jar, Shakra sang a woeful song about its contents. He described a liquid of pure mischief that turns whoever drinks it into a mindless fool. The entire time he was urging the king to buy it. The words of the song confused the king, making him fearful of the jar. When Shakra revealed that the liquid in the jar was nothing more than alcohol, he asked the king that how, now knowing the true nature of the substance, how he could continue to drink like he does. These powerful words persuaded the king to cease drinking entirely.

Monty McKeever 9-2005

Key Events in the Story

1. A King that drinks too much

2. Shakra appears with jar of alcohol

3. The King quits drinking

View other items in the Thematic Set: Collection of Zanabazar: Jataka Stories