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Mahādhammapāla Jātaka (No.447)

In Dhammapāla, a village of Kāsi, there lived a family whose head was Mahādhammapāla. The Bodhisatta was his son, and was called Dhammapala-kumāra. He went to study at Takkasilā. There the teacher’s eldest son died, but among all the lamentations it was noticed that Dhammapāla did not weep. When questioned by his fellows as to how he could refrain, he answered that as it was impossible for anybody young to die, he did not believe his friend was dead. The teacher asked him about this, and found that in Dhammapāla’s family no one died young. Wishing to know if this were true, he left Takkasilā and went to the home of Dhammapāla, carrying with him the bones of a goat. After his welcome had subsided, he announced to Dhammapāla that his son was dead, and begged him not to grieve. However, Dhammapāla clapped his hands and laughed, saying that such a thing could never be as no member of their family ever died young. He then told the brahmin, in answer to his query, that they owed their longevity to the fact that they lived good lives.

The story was related to Suddhodana, who told the Buddha how, when the Buddha was practising severe penances, some gods came to him (Suddhodana) and said that he was dead. However, he refused to believe them. Suddhodana was Mahādhammapāla and the teacher Sāriputta (J.iv.50‑55). At the conclusion of the Jātaka, Suddhodana became a Non-returner and Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī a Stream-winner. DhA.i.99; J.i.92.

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