A Wife and Mother Who Was a Sister First – Jataka Tales

Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
[An Intelligent Woman]
[Uccha ga-Jātaka]
The Buddha told this story while living in Jetavana
temple about a countrywoman who cried, as if in mourning.
The Buddha said she did just so before. And he told this
story of the past:
Once upon a time some bandits robbed a village. Then
they escaped into a thick forest. Some men from the village
chased them. They surrounded the forest and searched it for
the robbers, but they could not find them.
When they came out of the forest they saw three
farmers plowing in their field. They immediately captured
them and said, “Aha! You bandits are pretending to be
innocent farmers interested only in plowing! Come with us to
the king, you thieves!” They tied them up and took them as
prisoners to the king. He locked them in the palace dungeon.
Then a woman began coming to the palace courtyard.
For several days she came and cried, as if in mourning.
One day the king heard her cries and asked her to come
inside. He asked why she was crying. She said, “I have heard
that my husband, son and brother are all your prisoners, my
lord.”
The king had the three men brought up from the
dungeon. Being a generous ruler, he said to the woman, “I
will give you one of these three. Which one do you choose?”
The woman asked, “Can’t you give me all three, my
lord?” The king replied, “No, I cannot.”
After carefully considering, she said, “If you will not
give me all three, then give me my brother, oh lord king.”
The king was surprised by her choice. He said, “You
should choose your husband or son. Why would you want
your brother instead?”
The smart woman replied, “Oh my lord, when I go out
onto the roadway, a new husband would be easy to find. And
then I could easily have another son. A husband or a son is
easy to come by in this world. But since my parents are dead,
I could never get another brother!”
The king was impressed by the intelligence and
thinking ability shown by this simple woman. Some of his
own ministers were not nearly as smart! So he decided to
reward her. He said, “I return all three to you – your brother,
husband and son.”
The Buddha said:
“The woman today is the same as the woman then.
And the three men then were the same as three men today
whose arrest was the cause for this woman’s crying as if in
mourning, today.”
The moral: “It’s a fortunate brother who has an intelligent
sister.”