A Mother’s Wise Advice – Jataka Tales

Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
[Asātarūpa-Jātaka (Aghātarūpa-Jātaka)]
The Buddha told this story while he was in Ku adhāna
Forest near the city of Ku iya with regard to Suppavāsā, the
daughter of the king of Koliya. At that time, she had carried
a child in her womb for seven years, was in the seventh day
of giving birth and was having great pains. In spite of this
suffering, she thought of the Buddha and his message
regarding the end of sufferings. Such thoughts, indeed, were
a consolation to her in her pain. So she sent her husband to
the Buddha to hear a greeting from her and to tell him of her
Her message having been given to the Buddha, the
Buddha blessed her, wishing that she grow strong again and
give birth to a healthy child. And at the moment of his
words, so she did.
When her husband returned home, he found that she
had delivered the child already and he marveled at the
Buddha’s powers.
Now that the child was born, Suppavāsā was anxious to
show her bounty for seven days to the Buddha and his
retinue, so she sent her husband back to invite them. But at
the same time, the Buddha had received an invitation from
the layman who supported the venerable Moggallāna.
Wishing to gratify Suppavāsā’s charitable desires, the
Buddha sent Moggallāna to explain the matter, and accepted
the hospitality of Suppavāsā for seven days.
On the seventh day, she dressed up her newly born son,
whose name was Sīvalī, and had him bow before the Buddha
and the monks. When, in due course, he was brought before
Sāriputta, the elder kindly asked the infant whether all was
well with him. “How could it be, venerable sir?” said the
child. “I have had to wallow in blood for seven long years!”
Joyfully, Suppavāsā exclaimed that her child, only
seven days old, was discussing religion with one of the
Buddha’s chief disciples, Sāriputta. The Buddha asked her
whether she would like to have another such child, and she
said, “Seven more, if they would be like him.”
At the age of seven, Sīvalī joined the monkhood. And
when he reached the age of 20, so that he was able to, he
became a full-fledged monk. In due course, he gained
Arahant-ship [sainthood].
One day, the monks in the preaching hall were
discussing Sīvalī’s achievements and the circumstances of his
birth, wondering what deeds were the cause of this. When
the Buddha entered and questioned the monks as to the
subject of their conversation, he said that Sīvalī was seven
years in the womb and seven days in birth all because of his
own past deeds. And similarly, Suppavāsā’s seven years of
pregnancy and seven days in labor resulted from her past
deeds. And at the monks’ request, the Buddha told the story
of the past:
Once upon a time, the son of Brahmadatta was ruling
righteously in Benares, in northern India. It came to pass that
the King of Kosala made war, killed the King of Benares, and
made the queen become his own wife.
Meanwhile, the queen’s son escaped by sneaking away
through the sewers. In the countryside he eventually raised a
large army and surrounded the city. He sent a message to the
king, the murderer of his father and the husband of his
mother. He told him to surrender the kingdom or fight a
The prince’s mother, the Queen of Benares, heard of
this threat from her son. She was a gentle and kind woman
who wanted to prevent violence and suffering and killing. So
she sent a message to her son – “There is no need for the
risks of battle. It would be wiser to close every entrance to
the city. Eventually the lack of food, water and firewood will
wear down the citizens. Then they will give the city to you
without any fighting.”
The prince decided to follow his mother’s wise advice.
His army blockaded the city for seven days and nights. Then
the citizens captured their unlawful king, cut off his head,
and delivered it to the prince. He entered the city
triumphantly and became the new King of Benares.
The Buddha then said:
“Sīvalī was the prince who in the past blockaded the
city and became king. Suppavāsā was his mother. And I
who have become the Buddha was his father, king of
The Buddha added:
“It was as a result of blockading the city for seven days
that Sīvalī was in the womb for seven years and was seven
days in birth. It was similarly on account of his previous
deeds that he gained Arahant-ship. And it was because
Suppavāsā sent her message bidding her son to take the city
by blockade, that she was doomed to a seven year pregnancy
and to seven days of labor.”
The moral: “Every deed receives its just deserts.”
“Kind advice is wise advice.”

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