Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Shakyamuni Buddha - Jataka (previous lives)

ཤཱཀྱ་ཐུབ་པ། 释迦牟尼佛
(item no. 50210)
Date Range 0 - 99 AD
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.

#20 The Treasurer

A Tale of a Pious Man

The Bodhisattva lived as a king's treasurer. He was renowned for his learning, nobility, and modest behavior. His lofty aspirations and complete honesty caused him to be revered above all others.

One day, the treasurer's mother in law came and visited his home while he was away at the palace. She asked the treasurer's wife if she was happy in their marriage and the wife responded that virtue such as her husbands would be hard to find even in the greatest mendicant who has renounced the world. The mother was hard of hearing and only heard the word "mendicant" and therefore misinterpreted her daughters words, thinking that she had said her husband was going to leave her and enter the forest to live as a mendicant. The mother started wailing in sadness, and seeing this, the daughter assumed her mother knew something she did not and in turn started to also believe that her husband was going to leave her. The rumor spread rapidly through the kingdom rapidly and before long, all the treasurer's friends and family were overcome with grief, believing he was about to leave them all.

When the rumor finally reached the treasurer, he was confused but at the same time, he was honored that all these people viewed him as virtuous enough to live an ascetic life. He felt that after being held in such high regard, if he were to say it was just a rumor and continue to cling to the home life, he would not be worthy of their praise. Thus he decided to actually renounce the world and live in the woods as a mendicant and pursue nothing but meditation and cultivation of virtue.

Monty McKeever 9-2005

Key Events in the Story

1. Bodhisattva is a treasurer

2. A misunderstanding starts a false rumor that he is to become an ascetic

3. The treasured becomes an ascetic

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