The Visit To Pataliputta
WHEN the Blessed One had stayed as long as convenient at Nalanda, he went to Pataliputta, the frontier town of Magadha; and when the disciples at Pataliputta heard of his arrival, they invited him to their village rest-house. And the Blessed One robed himself, took his bowl and went with the brethren to the rest-house. There he washed his feet, entered the hall, and seated himself against the center pillar, with his face towards the east. The brethren, also, having washed their feet, entered the hall, and took their seats round the Blessed One, against the western wall, facing the east. And the lay devotees of Pataliputta, having also washed their feet, entered the hall, and took their seats opposite the Blessed One against the eastern wall, facing towards the west.
Then the Blessed One addressed the lay-disciples of Pataliputta, and he said: “Fivefold householders, is the loss of the wrong-doer through his want of rectitude. In the first place, the wrong-doer, devoid of rectitude, falls into great poverty through sloth; in the next place, his evil repute gets noised abroad; thirdly, whatever society he enters, whether of Brahmans, nobles, heads of houses, or samanas, he enters shyly and confusedly; fourthly, he is full of anxiety when he dies; and lastly, on the dissolution of the body after death, his mind remains in an unhappy state. Wherever his karma continues, there will be suffering and woe. This, householders, is fivefold loss of the evil-doer!
“Fivefold, householders, is the gain of the well-doer through his practice of rectitude. In the first place the well doer, strong in rectitude, acquires property through his industry; in the next place, good reports of him are spread abroad; thirdly, whatever society he enters, whether of nobles, Brahmans, heads of houses, or members of the order, he enters with confidence and self-possession; fourthly, he dies without anxiety; and, lastly, on the dissolution of the body after death, his mind remains in a happy state. Wherever his karma continues, there will be heavenly bliss and peace. This, householders, is the fivefold gain of the well doer.” When the Blessed One had taught the disciples, and incited them, and roused them, and gladdened them far into the night with religious edification, he dismissed them, saying, “The night is far spent, householders. It is time for you to do what you deem most fit.”
“Be it so, Lord!” answered the disciples of Pataliputta, and rising from their seats, they bowed to the Blessed One, and keeping him on their right hand as they passed him, they departed thence.
While the Blessed One stayed at Pataliputta, the king of Magadha sent a messenger to the governor of Pataliputta to raise fortifications for the security of the town. The Blessed One seeing the laborers at work predicted the future greatness of the place, saying: “The men who build the fortress act as if they had consulted higher powers. For this city of Pataliputta will be a dwelling-place of busy men and a center for the exchange of all kinds of goods. But three dangers hang over Pataliputta, that of fire, that of water, that of dissension.”
When the governor heard of the prophecy of Pataliputta’s future, he greatly rejoiced and named the city-gate through which the Buddha had gone towards the river Ganges, “The Gautama Gate.” Meanwhile the people living on the banks of the Ganges arrived in great numbers to pay reverence to the Lord of the world; and many persons asked him to do them the honor to cross over in their boats. But the Blessed One considering the number of the boats and their beauty did not want to show any partiality, and by accepting the invitation of one to offend all the others. He therefore crossed the river without any boat, signifying thereby that the rafts of asceticism and the gaudy gondolas of religious ceremonies were not staunch enough to weather the storms of samsara, while the Tathagatha can walk dry-shod over the ocean of worldliness. And as the city gate was called after the name of the Tathagatha so the people called this passage of the river “Gautama Ford.”
The author of this story is unknown and greatly appreciated!