Posted by: lrrp | January 8, 2010

Wish Fulfilling Truth (Icchapurana Sacca)

This type of truth (sacca) is made in order to fulfill one’s wishes. Details can be found in the Sama Jataka (no. 540), etc. Here we will give only a few pertinent details:

Conduct of Suvanna-Sama

Suvanna-Sama lay unconscious (dying or near death) due to an injury from a poisoned arrow. King Piliyakkha brought his parents to him. As soon as they arrived they sat down by their unconscious son and his father, Dukula, lifted up his head while his mother, Parika sat at his feet and put her son’s feet on her lap. They were both crying. As they were blind, they fumbled when they touched their son and in that way the mother discovered there was still some warmth in his chest. She realized her son was not dead yet, but in a swoon from the poison, and she thought she should try to counteract the poison through an act of truth (sacca-kiriya). So she made the following solemn declaration: “My son Sama was a moral person. If this be true, may he be cured.
“Likewise, my son Sama was in the habit of cultivating the noble practice. “My son Sama told only the truth. “My son Sama has always looked after his parents. “My son S5ma was obedient to the elders in the family. “I love my son more than I love my life. “May all the moral deeds done by me in the past, and by his father, overcome the poison’s strength.” Suvanna-Sama rolled onto his side. Thus, his father realized his son was still alive and decided to pronounce the same act of truth spoken by the mother. And the Bodhisatta Sama rolled back over.

Meanwhile a spirit by the name of Bahusodarl from Gandhamadana mountain in the Himalayas came to the scene. She had been the mother of Sama seven lives earlier. She made the following oath, “I have lived for a long time on Gandhamadana mountain where every tree hears its own perfume. Throughout this period I have loved no one more than Suvanna-Sama. If this be true, may the poison afflicting Sama depart from his veins.”

As the parents and the spirit sat there crying, the handsome young man sat up. The oaths spoken by them succeeded in fulfilling their wish that Sama be free from injury and thus recover. Such oaths are therefore called wish-fulfilling vocal truths (Icchapurana-vacl-sacca).

Conduct of Supparaka
There is also mention of wish-fulfilling vocal truth (Icchapurana-vacl-sacca) in the Supparaka Jataka (no. 463). Here is a brief account:

Once the Bodhisatta lived in a seaport town called Bharukaccha in the kingdom of Bharu. His name was Supparaka the Wise. He had been captain of a ship for a long time and had become blind because or the sea vapours. He was asked by some merchants to sail with them and decided to do so. After a week of sailing, an untimely wind began to blow and the ship could not be kept on course. Instead it wandered across the ocean for four long months. It passed through the five oceans: Khuramali,
Aggimali, Dadhimali, Kusamali, and Nalamali. Eventually it approached the terrible ocean named Valabhamukha. The captain, Supparaka, told the merchants that no one could steer away from that ocean and that they would sink as soon as they entered it. The merchants cried bitterly.

Then the Bodhisatta Supparaka, wishing to save all the merchants through a solemn act or truth said, “I have never harmed any living being since the time I reached the age of reason; I have never stolen, not even a piece of cut bamboo. I have never even looked with sensual thoughts at other
Eeople’s daughters or wives. I have never told ies. I have never taken intoxicants – not even as much as a drop of dew on a blade of grass. Through this declaration of truth may this shio_ arrive safe and sound back at its original dock.” Due to the power of this truth, the ship arrived at the jetty of Bharukaccha in one day.

This example of right speech (Vacl-sacca) uttered by Supparaka is also wish-fulfilling vocal truth (Icchapurana-vacl-sacca) for its aim was for the well-being’ of a group of people and for the fulfilling of a wish.

Conduct of King Sivi
In the Sivi Jataka (no. 499) the Bodhisatta was King Sivi of the capital Aritthapura in the kingdom of Sivi. He was not content with giving away daily goods whose total cost was about six hundred thousand pieces of money. He decided to donate parts of his body. The king of the thirty-three gods,*Sakka, disguised himself as a blind Brahmin and went to him in order to make this possible. “Oh king,” he said, “your eyes are good but mine are not. If you give me one of yours then we could each see with one eye. So I beg you to give me one of your eyes.”

The king was delighted and sent for the surgeon SIvaka and ordered him to take out one of his eyes. The surgeon, the ministers and the queen requested the king not to do this, but he was persistent. The surgeon had to take out one of his eyes. The king looked at the eye with his one remaining eye, full of gladness, and praying for full enlightenment realized on his own (Samma-sambodhi), handed the eye over to the Brahmin.

The Brahmin being Sakka, the eye became like a normal eye when it was put into the eye socket. The king was delighted with this and donated his other eye, despite everyone’s protests. The Brahmin put the second eye in and it too became like a normal one.

Then he spoke a few words in praise, and pretending to leave the palace, suddenly disappeared.
It was not proper for the blind king to rule any longer, so he made a shelter near the lake in the royal garden and stayed there reflecting on his donation of his eyes. Then Sakka came and walked near the shelter so that the king would know he was there. When the king asked who was there, he told him he was Sakka and that the king could ask for anything he desired. The king replied, “I have plenty of wealth. Now that I am blind, I just want to die.”

Sakka asked him, “Oh king, do you truly wish to die or is it simply because you are blind.”
The king replied that it was because he was blind. So Sakka told the king that he could not make the king’s eyes become normal again, and he urged the king to take an oath, saying that would enable him to see again.

The king then made this oath, “I gave to all who used to come to me, and I also gave to one who asked for what he wanted from me. Through this truth may my eyes become normal again.”
Through this oath, one eye appeared. Then the king made another vow, “When a blind Brahmin came to me and asked for an eye, I donated both my eyes. And when I donated my eyes I was very pleased. Through this truth may I have another eye. With this oath the second eye appeared. These eyes were neither his original eyes nor were they divine eyes. Nor were they sight gained by special attainment. In fact, they were eyes which can appear through the power of the virtue of truth (sacca), one of the
perfections. Such truth Jsacca) is also wish-fulfilling truth (Icchapurana-sacca) as it is uttered for the sake of fulfilling one’s desires.

Conduct of Fish-King
In the Maccha Jataka (no. 7 5) the Bodhisatta took birth as a fish. One year there was a drought and the water dried up which meant the crows could easily pick up the fish with their beaks and eat them. The leader of the fish, the Bodhisatta, made an oath, “Although I have taken birth as a fish which usually eat each other, I have never eaten one of my own species, even a fish the size of a
train of rice. Through this oath may the rain pour own.” And there was rain.

Conduct of Young-Quail
In the Vatfaka Jataka (no. 35) the Bodhisatta was a quail. While he was still too young to fly or walk, a great forest fire broke out and his parents fled. The young quail decided it could make an oath as there were still the glory of morality, truth and compassion In the universe. He spoke the following declaration of truth: “I have wings but cannot Fly yet. I have feet also, but cannot walk. My parents have fled. Oh forest fire, go away and leave me alone!” At this, the fire kept away from him for a distance of sixteen lengths and then went out.

In the Jataka stories mentioned above (Sama, etc.), we can say that the wishes were fulfilled because the oaths were taken on the basis of merit. But in the case of the Bodhisatta when he was a quail there is no merit. Why then was the wish fulfilled? A declaration of truth is based on truth whether it be meritorious or not. A declaration related to merit is not spoken truth (vacl-sacca) if it is spoken wrongly. In a case such as that, it will not have any power or force. Only a declaration of truth as an oath can make one1s wish be fulfilled and be powerful. The quail’s oath was a declaration of truth, so it became spoken truth (vaci-sacca) and the wish was fulfilled. The declaration was neither meritorious nor immoral.

Conduct of Kanha-Dipayana
The Kanha-DIpayana Jataka (no. 444) illustrates how a declaration of truth can become spoken truth (vacl-sacca) and the wish be fulfilled even though related to immorality. Here is a brief summary:
There were once two hermits named Kanha-Dfpayana and Mandavya. One day the former returned from the latter’s abode and his layman benefactor approached him and offered a drink. As the layman and the hermit Kanha-DIpayana were talking about the hermit Mandavya, the layman’s son, Yanfta-Datta was playing with a top nearby. The top fell into a hole where a poisonous snake was sheltered. The boy put his hand into the hole to get the top and the snake bit his hand. As a result of the snake’s poison the boy fell down in a swoon.

When the parents learned of this, they took the boy and laid him at the feet of the hermit and asked him to cure their son. The hermit replied that he did not know the right medicine for expelling the snake’s poison, but that he would treat the boy by making an oath. He put his hands on the boy’s head and said, “I saw ill in the world, so I renounced it and became a hermit, but I only maintained a calm mind for one week. After that, for the last fifty years, I have not found this life pleasant. I have had to restrain myself in order to lead this life. By this declaration of truth may the poison be expelled and may the boy come back to life.” And the poison in the boy’s chest was expelled and sank into the ground.

Then Yartna-Datta opened his eyes and the boy looked at his parents. After saying, “Mother, father,” he fainted again. The hermit then told the parents that he had somewhat cured the boy but that they should also use their power in curing the boy. So the father made an oath, “whenever those on alms round arrived at my house, I never felt pleasant towards them and determined not to pay respects to them. However, I did not let anyone know this. When making donations I did not wish to do so, but I pretended that I did in order to make meritorious deeds. Through this declaration of truth may the poison be relieved and my son come back to life!” The poison in the boy’s back was expelled and sank into the groun and the boy sat up, but he could not stand.

So the boy’s father turned to the mother and urge her to make an oath. The mother said that althoug she had some points to use in making a declaratic of truth she did not dare to do so In the father’ presence. The husband urged her not to hesitate and she finally made this declaration:”I hate th snake that bit my boy very much. I hate my husband as much as I hate the snake. May this declaratio of truth cure the poison and my son come back to life!”
At this the remaining poison in the boy’s body was expelled and sank into the ground and the boy go up again and played with his top.

In connection with the declarations of these three – the hermit, the husband and the wife – we shoul remember that although the things spoken about were not good, yet it was the truth and the trut has the force to fulfill one’s wishes.

(A Buddhist Monk’s Notebook)


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