Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THE PUPIL WHO TAUGHT HIS TEACHER
AND the Buddha was re-born in a Brahmin family and was known as
Dhamapala or Law Keeper.
When he came of age he was sent by his father to study
with a world famed teacher at Takasila and became the
chief pupil in a company of five hundred youths.
At that time the eldest son of the teacher died and the
father, surrounded by his pupils, in the midst of his kith
and kin, buried his son—and all the pupils wept and
wailed, but Dhamapala was silent and shed no tear, but when
the company returned from the cemetery Dhamapala asked,
"Why did your son die? It is not right that children should
die; only when people grow old can this happen." And
they asked him, "Is it the custom of your family that the
young do not die?" And he said: "Yes, that is the custom in
my family." The lads told this conversation to their teacher.
Now when the teacher heard this, he said to them, "That
is a most marvelous thing that he says. I will make a
journey to his father and ask him about it, and if it be
true I will live according to his rule of right."
And he said to the young man: "I am going on a journey. Do
thou, in my absence, instruct these youths."
So saying, he procured the bones of a wild goat, washed and
scented them, and put them into a bag. Then taking with him
a little page boy he started for the village in which lived
the father of his pupil.
When the house was reached, and the teacher had rested and
taken food, and the host had washed the feet of his guest,
the teacher said: "Brahmin, your son when full of wisdom has
by an unhappy chance lost his life. Grieve not for him." The
Brahmin laughed loudly. "Why do you laugh, Brahmin?" asked
the other. "Because," he said, "it is not my son who
is dead; it must be some other."
"No, Brahmin, your son is dead, and no other. Look on his
bones, and believe." So saying, he unwrapped the bones.
"There are your sonís bones," he said.
"A wild goatís bones, perhaps," quoth the Brahmin, "or a
dogís, but my son is not dead. In our family for seven
generations, no such thing has been known as a death in
tender years, and you are speaking falsehood." Then they
all clapped their hands and laughed aloud.
The teacher, when he beheld this wonderful thing, was much
pleased and said: "Brahmin, this custom in your family line
cannot be without cause, that the young do not die. Why is
it that you do not die young? Of what good and holy deed
is this the fruit?"
Then the Brahmin made answer:
"We walk in righteousness. We speak no ill. We flee from
things that are evil. We take no heed of the foolish. We
follow the counsel of the wise. We delight in giving gifts.
We feed the hungry. We are faithful in our marriage vows.
We are versed in sacred knowledge. Therefore, the young
amongst us never die."
On hearing this, the teacher replied: "A happy journey is
this of mine and fruitful. I came hither, O wise Brahmin,
to test you. Your son is safe and well. I pray you impart
to me your rule of preserving life."
Then the other wrote it on a leaf and returned to his pupils.