Dhammapada: Santati the King’s Minister

Dear Dhamma friends and children,

We can not predict how we could fully realize the Buddha’s teachings. This can only be known by a Buddha. The Buddha’s eye is endowed with two special knowledges. One of the knowledges is asayanusaya. From this knowledge one can see a record of a person’s faults and difficulties they will have to realize Dhamma. The other knowledge is the indriyaparopariyatta knowledge. From this knowledge the Buddha can see a person’s ability of realizing the four noble truths. This ability is unique for a Buddha. From this knowledge The Buddha will preach exactly that which is important for realizing the four noble truths. Now we are going to learn such a story.

We will be amazed when we hear how the main character in this story realized the Four Noble Truths.

Once upon a time in the kingdom of Kosala there was some public disorder between residents of a region of the country. They were arguing, shouting and fights broke out. The King decided to send minister Santati to settle the public disturbance.

Within no time he restored law and order and returned to report to the king

The King was very happy with the quick resolution. He was so pleased that he allowed Santati to enjoy all the pleasures of kingship for seven days. Along with that the king gave him a beautiful woman who danced and sang.

The minister lived as if he were the king. For seven days Santati steeped himself in liquor. On the seventh day, dressed in the king’s finest royal clothes and adornments, he mounted the back of the state elephant and set out for the bathing-place. As he passed through the gateway, he saw the Blessed One entering the city for alms.

Remaining seated as he was on the back of the elephant, he nodded his head by way of salute to the Teacher who was standing near to the city gates and continued his journey.

The Teacher smiled. “May I know, Blessed One, why do you smile?” asked venerable Ānanda. Said the Teacher, explaining the reason for his smile, “Ānanda, just look at the king’s minister Santati! This very day, adorned as he is with all the adornments, he will come into my presence, and at the conclusion of a stanza consisting of just four verses he will attain Arahantship and paranibbana and then ascend into the sky. He will then assume a sitting posture high above the earth and will then and there pass into Nibbāna.”

The people that were gathered there heard the conversation between the Teacher and the Elder.

The conversation spread like wildfire. It fueled the wrong views held by the masses.

Those in the crowd who held these false views thought to themselves, “Look at the way the ascetic Gotama acts! Whatever thoughts comes into his head he utters! This very day, so he says, that drunken man, adorned as he is with all the adornments, will come into his presence and listen to the Dhamma and pass into Nibbāna! But that is precisely what will not happen; this very day we shall catch the ascetic Gotama in a lie.”

On the other hand, the real disciples of the Buddha thought to themselves, “Oh how great and how marvelous is the supernatural power of the Buddhas! Today we shall have the privilege of beholding the grace of the Buddha and the grace of the king’s minister Santati.”

Santati the king’s minister spent most of the day at the bathing-place splashing about in the water, and then went to the pleasure garden and took his usual seat in the drinking-hall. The dancing woman noticed him, came down to center stage to show off her graceful dance and silky smooth voice. She was thinking she could put on her best show, it being her last day performing.

In the middle of her performance she suddenly had a heart attack and collapsed on the spot! Then and there, with open mouth and open eyes, she died.

“See, the dancing lady! Go and save her! Go help! What has happened? Somebody do something!”

“She is dead, master!” the ministers aid shouted back.

As soon as Santati heard those words, he was overwhelmed with sorrow and grief. He started crying, fed up with everything. “What has happened to me!” he thought. And then he remembered the Buddha. In an instant the liquor he had drunk during the preceding week vanished away like a drop of water on a red-hot iron.

He thought to himself, “Other than the Buddha, who can extinguish this sorrow I bear?” He called to his attendants, “I want nothing more, please take me to the Blessed One!” After finishing the funeral activities for the dancer, they left for the Blessed One.

Later that evening, protected by his special guards, he went to share his sadness with the Blessed One. Seeing the Teacher, and having saluted him, he spoke as follows:

“Reverend Sir, such and such sorrow has come upon me. I have come to you because I know that you will be able to extinguish my sorrow. Be my refuge. “

Then said the Teacher to him, “You have indeed come into the presence of one who is able to extinguish your sorrow. On the numberless occasions when this woman has died in this very manner you have wept over her, you have shed tears more abundant than all the water contained in the Four Great Oceans.” So saying, he pronounced the following stanza,

What has happened in the past should be dried up at its roots.
The defilements that could arise in the future, may you not get entangled in them.
In the present if nothing is tied around you, you can live peacefully with a stilled mind steadily.

Dear Dhamma friends, after the recitation of this stanza by the Buddha the minister Santati became an arahant, together with the psychic powers. Thereupon he surveyed his own previous lives and perceiving that he had but a little while to live, said to the Teacher, “Reverend Sir, permit me to pass into Nibbāna.”

The Teacher, although he himself knew what had been Santati’s meritorious deed in a previous state of existence, thought to himself, “The heretics who have gathered themselves together for the purpose of catching me in a lie will not succeed in doing so; and the devoted desciples who have assembled with the thought in their minds, ‘We shall behold the grace of the Buddha and the grace of Santati the king’s minister,’ when they hear about the meritorious deed he performed in a previous state of existence, will increase in respect for doing acts of merit.”

Therefore, the Teacher said to Santati the king’s minister, “Well then, explain to us all the meritorious deeds you did in a previous state of existence. Do not, however, reveal it to us standing on the ground, but explain it to us poised in the air. “Very well,” replied Santati the king’s minister.

Then he saluted the Teacher once more and rising gradually into the sky, he seated himself cross-legged in the air, and said, “Listen, Reverend Sirs, to the meritorious deed I performed in a previous state of existence.” So saying, he related the following

Story of the Past: The preacher of the Dhamma and the King

Ninety-one eons ago, in the dispensation of the Buddha Vipassī, I was reborn in a certain household in a city named Bandhumati.

I decided to live without troubling and harming nor disturbing anyone and decided to preach Dhamma.

I taught the Buddha’s teachings: “Please do meritorious deeds…protect the precepts. Practice generosity. Respect the triple gem.” I taught Dhamma in many ways.

And the following thought occurred to me, “What action will do away with the want and sufferings of others?” While I was pondering this thought, I observed the actions of those who went about proclaiming the Dhamma, and from that time forth I worked at that very task. I encouraged others to perform works of merit, and I performed works of merit myself.

On uposatha days I took upon myself the obligations of the uposatha: I gave alms. I listened to the Dhamma. And I went about proclaiming, “There are no jewels comparable to the Three Jewels which are named the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha; therefore do honor to the Three Jewels.”

Now the great King Bandhumati, father of the Buddha Vipassī, hearing my voice, sent for me and asked, “Friend, on what business are you going about?“I replied, “Your majesty, I am going about proclaiming the virtues of the Three Jewels, and encouraging the populace to perform works of merit.”

“How do you do that?” asked the King. I replied, “I travel about on my two legs, your majesty.” Thereupon the King said, “Friend, it is not fitting that you should go about in that fashion. Decorate yourself with this string of flowers and seat yourself on the back of a horse and go about in this fashion. “So saying, he gave me a string of flowers similar in appearance to a string of pearls, and at the same time he gave me a horse.

After the King had done me this kindness, I went about as before proclaiming the teachings of The Buddha. Thereupon the King called me again and asked me, “Friend, on what business are you going about?” “The same as before, your majesty,“I replied. “Friend,” said the King, “A horse is not good enough for you; sit herein as you go about. “So saying, he presented me with a chariot drawn by four horses. In this way I went about preaching Dhamma.

Again, a third time the King heard my voice, whereupon he sent for me and asked me, “Friend, on what business are you going about?” “The same as before, your majesty,” I replied. “Friend,” said the King, “A chariot is not good enough for you.” And right away he presented me with a mansion, great wealth and a splendid set of jewels and at the same time he gave me an elephant.

Accordingly, I decorated myself with all my jewels and seated myself on the back of the elephant, and in this manner for eighty-four thousand years I went about performing the meritorious work of proclaiming The Buddha’s Dhamma.

And during all that time there was diffused from my body the fragrance of sandal and from my mouth the fragrance of the lotus.

This was my meritorious deed in a previous state of existence.

As Santati the king’s minister thus related the story of his meritorious deed in a previous state of existence, sitting cross-legged in the air, he applied himself to meditation on the element of heat and entered therein and straightway passed into Nibbāna.

Instantly flames burst from his body and consumed his flesh and blood, and his relics floated down like jasmine flowers. The Teacher asked for a pure white cloth to be spread, and his relics fell therein. The Teacher deposited them at a crossing of four highways, caused a shrine to be erected over them and said, “By doing reverence to these relics the populace will earn much merit.” The monks started up a discussion saying, “Santati the king’s minister attained Arahatship at the conclusion of the stanza, and though adorned and dressed like a king, sitting cross-legged in the air, passed into Nibbāna. Ought one to speak of him as an ‘ascetic’ or as a ‘Brahmin’?” At that moment the Teacher entered and asked the monks, “Monks, what is it that engages your attention as you sit here all gathered together?” When they told him, he said, “Monks, it is proper to speak of my son as an ascetic or Brahmin.”

So saying, he preached the teachings of The Buddha by pronouncing the following Stanza:

Alaṅkato cepi samaṃ careyya,
Santo danto niyato brahmacārī;
Sabbesu bhūtesu nidhāya daṇḍaṃ,
So brāhmaṇo so samaṇo sa bhikkhu.

142. Even though he is well adorned, if he practices the Dhamma, is calm, is restrained in senses, is established well in the path of Nibbāna, is celibate, and has given up violence towards all beings-he truly is a Brāhmin, an ascetic, a monk.

Dear Dhamma friends, it’s amazing! When you do something wholesome, it doesn’t go wrong. It brings you well being. Only by practicing this Dhamma wholeheartedly we can seek refuge in this Gautama Buddha’s dispensation.


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