DN14.7. The Dead Man

Mahāpadāna Sutta ("The Great Discourse on the Harvest of Deeds")

Then King Bandhuma thought, ‘Prince Vipassī must not renounce the throne. He must not go forth from the lay life to homelessness. And the words of the brahmin soothsayers must not come true.’ To this end he provided the prince with even more of the five kinds of sensual stimulation, with which the prince amused himself.

Then, after many thousand years had passed, Prince Vipassī had his charioteer drive him to the park once more.

Along the way he saw a large crowd gathered making a bier out of garments of different colors. He addressed his charioteer, ‘My dear charioteer, why is that crowd making a bier?’

‘That, Your Majesty, is for someone who’s departed.’

‘Well then, drive the chariot up to the departed.’

‘Yes, Your Majesty,’ replied the charioteer, and did so.

When the prince saw the corpse of the departed, he addressed the charioteer, ‘But why is he called departed?’

‘He’s called departed because now his mother and father, his relatives and kin shall see him no more, and he shall never again see them.’

‘But my dear charioteer, am I liable to die? Am I not exempt from death? Will the king and queen and my other relatives and kin see me no more? And shall I never again see them?’

‘Everyone is liable to die, Your Majesty, including you. No-one is exempt from death. The king and queen and your other relatives and kin shall see you no more, and you shall never again see them.’

‘Well then, my dear charioteer, that’s enough of the park for today. Let’s return to the royal compound.’

‘Yes, Your Majesty,’ replied the charioteer and did so.

Back at the royal compound, the prince brooded, miserable and sad: ‘Damn this thing called rebirth, since old age, sickness, and death will come to anyone who’s born.’

Then King Bandhuma summoned the charioteer and said, ‘My dear charioteer, I hope the prince enjoyed himself at the park? I hope he was happy there?’

‘No, Your Majesty, the prince didn’t enjoy himself at the park.’

‘But what did he see on the way to the park?’ And the charioteer told the king about seeing the dead man and the prince’s reaction.

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