What’s in a Name?

The Buddha told this story while at Jetavana, about one of Anathapindika’s friends, a man named “Curse.” The two had played together as children and had gone to the same school. As the years passed, however, the friend became extremely poor and could not make a living for himself no matter what he did. In desperation, he approached Anathapindika, who welcomed him kindly and employed him to look after his property and to manage all of his business for him. From that time on, it was a common thing to hear someone shouting, “Curse!” each time a member of the household spoke to him.

One day some of Anathapindika’s friends and acquaintances came and said, “Treasurer, don’t let this sort of thing go on in your house! It’s enough to scare an ogre to hear such inauspicious speech as ‘Come here, Curse,’ ‘Sit down, Curse,’ or ‘Have your dinner, Curse.’ The man is a miserable wretch, dogged by misfortune. He’s not your social equal. Why do you have anything to do with him?”

“Nonsense,” replied Anathapindika, firmly rejecting their advice. “A name only denotes a man. The wise do not measure a man by his name. It is useless to be superstitious about mere sounds. I will never abandon the friend with whom I made mud-pies as a child, simply because of his name.”

Not long after that, Anathapindika went with many of his servants to visit a village of which he was headman. He left his old friend in charge. Hearing of his departure, a band of robbers decided to break into the house. That night, they armed themselves to the teeth and surrounded it.

See also  The Pleasant Surprise by Barry Pain

Curse had suspected that burglars might try something so he stayed awake. As soon as he knew that the robbers were outside, he ran about noisily as though he were rousing the entire household. He shouted for one person to sound the conch and for another to beat the drum. Soon it seemed that the house contained a whole army of servants.

When the robbers heard the din, they said to one another, “The house is not as empty as we thought it would be. The master must still be at home after all.” They threw down their clubs and other weapons and fled.

In the morning, the discarded weapons were found lying scattered outside the house. When the townspeople realized what had happened, they lauded Curse to the skies. “If such a wise man hadn’t been guarding the house,” they said, “those robbers would have walked in and plundered as they pleased. Anathapindika owes this good luck to his staunch friend, Curse.” As soon as Anathapindika returned from his trip, they told him the whole story.

“My friends,” Anathapindika answered, “this is the trusty guardian I was urged to get rid of. If I had taken your advice and sent him away, I would be a poorer man today. It’s not the name but the heart within that makes the man!” In appreciation of his friend’s services, he even raised his wages. Thinking that this was a good story to tell the Buddha, Anathapindika went to the Master and gave him a complete account.

Page 2

“This is not the first time, sir,” the Buddha said, “that a man named Curse has saved his friend’s wealth from robbers. The same thing happened in bygone days as well.” Then, at Anathapindika’s request, the Buddha told this story of the past.

See also  The Caravan

Long, long ago, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Baranasi, the Bodhisatta was the treasurer. He was very famous and had a friend named Curse. At that time everything was the same as in the story of Anathapindika. When the treasurer returned from the village and heard the news, he said to his friends, “If I had taken your advice and had gotten rid of my trusty friend, I would have been a beggar today. A friend is one who goes seven steps to help. He who goes twelve can be called a comrade. Loyalty for a fortnight or a month makes one a relative; long and steady dependability, a second self. How could I forsake my friend Curse who has always been so true?”

His lesson ended, the Buddha identified the Birth by saying, “At that time Ananda was Curse, and I myself was the treasurer of Baranasi.”

Leave a Reply 0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *