Prince Five-Weapons and Sticky-Hair – Jataka Tales

Buddha’s Tales for Young and Old
[The Diamond Weapon]
[Pañcāvudha-Jātaka]
The Buddha told this story while he was living in
Jetavana monastery with regard to a monk who was thinking
of giving up his robes. The Buddha admonished him, “In the
past, through perseverance in difficult situations, the wise
and good gained a throne.” And the Buddha told a story of
the past:
Once upon a time, the Enlightenment Being was born
as the son of the King and Queen of Benares. On the day of
his naming, 800 fortunetellers were invited to the palace. As
presents, they were given whatever they desired to make
them happy for the moment. Then they were asked to tell the
fortune of the newborn prince. This was so they could find a
good name for him.
One of the fortunetellers was an expert in reading the
marks on the body. He said, “My lord, this is a being of great
merit. He will be king after you.”
The fortunetellers were very clever. They told the king
and queen whatever they wanted to hear. They said, “Your
son will be skilled in five weapons. He will become famous
as the greatest master of all five weapons throughout India.”
Based on this, the king and queen named their son ‘Prince
Five-Weapons’ [Pañcāvudha].
When the prince turned 16, the king decided to send
him to college. He said, “Go, my son, to the city of
Takkasilā.⁶ There you will find a world-famous teacher.
Learn all you can from him. Give him this money as
payment.” He gave him a thousand gold coins and sent him
on his way.
The prince went to the world-famous teacher of
Takkasilā. He studied very hard and became his best pupil.
When the teacher had taught him all he knew, he gave the
prince a special graduation award. He gave him five
weapons. Then he sent him back to Benares.
On his way home he came to a forest which was
haunted by a monster. The local people warned Prince Five-
Weapons, “Young man, don’t go through the forest. There is
a monstrous demon called Sticky-Hair [Silesaloma] living
⁶ Takkasilā, the capital of the kingdom of Gandhāra in the northwest of India,
was
a center of learning and trade in the Buddha’s time. This was the city known
as
Taxila to Western classical writers.
there. He kills everyone he sees!”
But the prince was self-confident and fearless like a
young lion. So he pushed on into the forest, until he came to
the dreadful monster. He was as tall as a tree, with a head as
big as the roof of a house and eyes as big as dishes. He had
two big yellow tusks sticking out of his gaping white mouth
filled with ugly brown teeth. He had a huge belly covered
with white spots, and his hands and feet were blue.
The monster roared and growled at the prince, “Where
are you going in my forest, little man? You look like a tasty
morsel to me. I’m going to gobble you up!”
The prince had just graduated from college and had
won the highest award from his teacher. So he thought he
knew just about everything, and that he could do just about
anything. He replied, “Oh fierce demon, I am Prince Five-
Weapons, and I have come on purpose to find you. I dare you
to attack me! I will kill you easily with my first two weapons
– my bow and poison-tipped arrows.”
Then he put a poison arrow in his bow and shot it
straight at the monster. But the arrow just stuck fast to his
hair, like glue, without hurting him at all. Then the prince
shot, one after another, all the rest of his 50 poison-tipped
arrows. But they also stuck fast to the hair of the one called
Sticky-Hair.
Then the beast shook his body, from ugly rooftop-sized
head to blue-colored feet. And all the arrows fell harmlessly
to the ground.
Prince Five-Weapons drew his third weapon, a 33-inch-
long sword. He plunged it into his enemy. But it just stuck
fast in the thick coat of sticky hair.
He threw his fourth weapon, his spear, at the monster.
But this too just stuck to his hair.
Next he attacked with the last of his five weapons, his
club. This also stuck fast onto Sticky-Hair.
Then the prince yelled at him, “Hey you, monster –
haven’t you ever heard of me, Prince Five-Weapons? I have
more than just my five weapons. I have the strength of my
young man’s body. I will break you in pieces!”
He hit Sticky-Hair with his right fist, just like a boxer.
But his hand just stuck to the hairy coat, and he couldn’t
remove it. He hit him with his left fist, but this too just stuck
fast to the gooey mess of hair. He kicked him with his right
foot and then his left, just like a martial arts master. But they
both stuck onto him like his fists. Finally he butted him as
hard as he could with his head, just like a wrestler. But, lo
and behold, his head got stuck as well.
Even while sticking to the hairy monster in five places,
hanging down from his coat, the prince had no fear.
Sticky-Hair thought, “This is very strange indeed. He is
more like a lion than a man. Even while in the grasp of a
ferocious monster like me, he does not tremble with fear. In
all the time I’ve been killing people in this forest, I’ve never
met anyone as great as this prince. Why isn’t he afraid of
me?”
Since Prince Five-Weapons was not like ordinary men,
Sticky-Hair was afraid to eat him right away. Instead he
asked him, “Young man, why aren’t you afraid of death?”
The prince replied, “Why should I be afraid of death?
There is no doubt that anyone who is born will definitely
die!”
Then the Enlightenment Being thought, “The five
weapons given to me by the world-famous teacher have been
useless. Even the lion-like strength of my young man’s body
has been useless. I must go beyond my teacher, beyond my
body, to the weapon inside my mind – the only weapon I
need.”
The prince continued speaking to Sticky-Hair, “There’s
one small detail, oh monstrous one, I haven’t told you about
yet. In my belly is my secret weapon, a diamond weapon you
cannot digest. It will cut your intestines into pieces if you are
foolish enough to swallow me. So if I die – you die! That’s
why I’m not afraid of you.”
In this way the prince used his greatest inner strength in
a way that Sticky-Hair could easily understand. He knew this
greatest of all weapons, the one inside his mind, was the
precious diamond gem of his own intelligence.
Sticky-Hair thought, “No doubt this fearless man is
telling the truth. Even if I eat as much as a pea-sized tidbit of
such a hero, I won’t be able to digest it. So I will let him go.”
Fearing his own death, he set Prince Five-Weapons free.
He said, “You are a great man. I will not eat your flesh.
I let you go free, just like the moon that reappears after an
eclipse, so you may shine pleasantly on all your friends and
relatives.”
The Enlightenment Being had learned from this battle
with the monster Sticky-Hair. He had learned the only
worthwhile weapon is the intelligence inside, not the
weapons of the world outside. And with this diamond
weapon he also knew that destroying life brings only
suffering to the killer.
In gratitude, he taught the unfortunate demon. He said,
“Oh Sticky-Hair, you have been born as a murderous blood-
sucking flesh eating demon because of unwholesome deeds
in your past. If you continue killing in this way, it will lead
only to suffering for you – both in this life and beyond. You
can only go from darkness to darkness.
“Now that you have spared me, you won’t be able to
kill so easily. Hear this – destroying life leads to misery in
this world, and then rebirth in a hell world, or as an animal or
a hungry ghost. Even if you were lucky enough to be reborn
as a human being, you would have only a short life!”
Prince Five-Weapons continued to teach Sticky-Hair.
Eventually the monster agreed to follow the Five Training
Steps [pañca-sīla-s, the first five sikkhā-pada-s]. In this way
he transformed him from a monster into a friendly forest
fairy. And when he left the forest, the prince told the local
people about the change in the one-time demon. From then
on they fed him regularly and lived in peace.
Prince Five-Weapons returned to Benares. Later he
became king. Finally he died and was reborn as he deserved.
The Buddha then identified the births:
“The demon Sticky-Hair is now the venerable
A gulimāla.⁷ And I, myself, was Prince Five-Weapons.”
The moral: “The only weapon you need is hidden inside
you.”

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