Little Prince No-father – Jataka Tales

Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
[The Power of Truth]
Once upon a time, the King of Benares
went on a picnic in the forest. The beautiful flow-
ers and trees and fruits made him very happy. As
he was enjoying their beauty, he slowly went
deeper and deeper into the forest. Before long, he
became separated from his companions and real-
ized that he was all alone.
Then he heard the sweet voice of a young
woman. She was singing as she collected fire-
wood. To keep from being afraid of being alone in
the forest, the king followed the sound of the
lovely voice. When he finally came upon the
singer of the songs, he saw that she was a beauti-
ful fair young woman, & immediately fell in love
with her. They became very friendly, and the king
became the father of the firewood woman’s child.
Later, he explained how he had gotten lost
in the forest, and convinced her that he was indeed
the King of Benares. She gave him directions for
getting back to his palace. The king gave her his
valuable signet ring, and said, “If you give birth to
a baby girl, sell this ring and use the money to
bring her up well. If our child turns out to be a
baby boy, bring him to me along with this ring for
recognition.” So saying, he departed for Benares.
In the fullness of time, the firewood woman
gave birth to a cute little baby boy. Being a simple
shy woman, she was afraid to take him to the
fancy court in Benares, but she saved the king’s
signet ring.
In a few years, the baby grew into a little
boy. When he played with the other children in the
village, they teased him and mistreated him, and
even started fights with him. It was because his
mother was not married that the other children
picked on him. They yelled at him, “No-father!
No-father! Your name should be No-father!”
Of course this made the little boy feel
ashamed and hurt and sad. He often ran home cry-
ing to his mother. One day, he told her how the
other children called him, “No-father! No-father!
Your name should be No-father!” Then his mother
said, “Don’t be ashamed, my son. You are not just
an ordinary little boy. Your father is the King of
Benares!”
The little boy was very surprised. He asked
his mother, “Do you have any proof of this?” So
she told him about his father giving her the signet
ring, and that if the baby was a boy she should
bring him to Benares, along with the ring as proof.
The little boy said, “Let’s go then.” Because of
what happened, she agreed, and the next day they
set out for Benares.
When they arrived at the king’s palace, the
gate keeper told the king the firewood woman and
her little son wanted to see him. They went into
the royal assembly hall, which was filled with the
king’s ministers and advisers. The woman re-
minded the king of their time together in the for-
est. Finally she said, “Your majesty, here is your
son.”
The king was ashamed in front of all the
ladies and gentlemen of his court. So, even though
he knew the woman spoke the truth, he said, “He
is not my son!” Then the lovely young mother
showed the signet ring as proof. Again the king
was ashamed and denied the truth, saying, “It is
not my ring!”
Then the poor woman thought to herself, “I
have no witness and no evidence to prove what I
say. I have only my faith in the power of truth.” So
she said to the king, “If I throw this little boy up
into the air, if he truly is your son, may he remain
in the air without falling. If he is not your son,
may he fall to the floor and die!”
Suddenly, she grabbed the boy by his foot
and threw him up into the air. Lo and behold, the
boy sat in the cross-legged position, suspended in
mid-air, without falling. Everyone was astonished,
to say the least! Remaining in the air, the little boy
spoke to the mighty king. “My lord, I am indeed a
son born to you. You take care of many people
who are not related to you. You even maintain
countless elephants, horses and other animals.
And yet, you do not think of looking after and
raising me, your own son. Please do take care of
me and my mother.”
Hearing this, the king’s pride was over-
come. He was humbled by the truth of the little
boy’s powerful words. He held out his arms and
said, “Come to me my son, and I will take good
care of you.”
Amazed by such a wonder, all the others in
the court put out their arms. They too asked the
floating little boy to come to them. But he went
directly from mid-air into his father’s arms. With
his son seated on his lap, the king announced that
he would be the crown prince, and his mother
would be the number one queen.
In this way, the king and all his court
learned the power of truth. Benares became
known as a place of honest justice. In time the
king died. The grown up crown prince wanted to
show the people that all deserve respect, regard-
less of birth. So he had himself crowned under the
official name, “King No-father!” He went on to
rule the kingdom in a generous and righteous way.
The moral is: The truth is always stronger
than a lie.