Mahāsupina Jātaka (No. 77)
Pasenadi, king of Kosala, had, one night, sixteen bad dreams, and his
brahmins, on being consulted, said that they presaged harm either to his
kingdom, his life, or his wealth, and prescribed all manner of sacrifices in
order to avert the danger (It is perhaps this sacrifice which is referred to at
Mallikā, the king's wife, heard of this and suggested that the Buddha should
be consulted. The king followed her advice, and the Buddha explained the dreams.
- The first dream was of wild bulls entering the royal courtyard to fight
but retiring after roaring and bellowing. This, said the Buddha, meant that,
in future, when wicked kings rule, rain clouds will gather, but there will be
- The second dream was of trees and shrubs sprouting from the earth which
flowered and bore fruit when only about one span high. This foretold a time
when men would be short lived owing to their lusts.
- In the third dream cows sucked calves which were hardly a day old. This
showed that, in the future, the young would refuse respect to the old.
- The fourth dream was of sturdy draught oxen standing by, while young
steers tried to draw loads. This signified a time when the administration of
affairs will be entrusted to the young and inexperienced, while the wise and
old stand by.
- The fifth dream was of a horse which ate from two mouths, one on either
side of its body, which foretold a time when the king's justices will take
bribes from contending parties and give themselves to corruption.
- The sixth dream was of people holding a very valuable golden bowl and
asking a jackal to stale therein. This shows that, in the future, kings will
exalt the low born and noble maidens will be mated with upstarts.
- The seventh dream was of a man holding a rope which he trailed at his
feet, while a she jackal kept on eating it. This foretold a time when women
will lose their sense of modesty and behave badly.
- In the eighth dream was a big pitcher at the palace gates filled with
water and surrounded by empty ones. This foretold a time when kings will be
poor and set the whole country working for them, the people being left in
- The ninth dream was of a deep pool with sloping banks overgrown with
lotus. Men and beasts entered the pond; the middle was muddy, but at the edges
was crystal water. This meant that in the future there would be unrighteous
kings oppressing the people, who would leave the capital and take refuge in
the frontier districts.
- The tenth dream was of rice cooking in a pot, which rice, instead of
cooking evenly, remained in three parts: some sodden, some raw, some well
cooked; this showed that in the future men of all classes, even brahmins and
sages, will be wicked, the very forces of nature will be against them, and
their harvest will be spoiled.
- The eleventh dream was of men bartering butter milk for precious sandal
wood, and presaged a time when the Dhamma would decay and its votaries clamour
for money and gifts.
- The twelfth dream was of empty pumpkins sinking in the water; the world
will be reversed: the low born will become great lords and the noble sink into
- In the thirteenth dream solid blocks of rock floated in the water; nobles
and wise men will be scorned while upstarts shall have their own way.
- In the fourteenth dream tiny frogs chewed huge snakes and ate them; a time
will come when men, because of their lusts, will become the slaves of their
wives and be ruled by them.
- The fifteenth dream was of a wicked village crow attended by mallards;
kings will arise, ignorant and cowardly, who will rise to power, not their
peers, but their footmen, barbers, and the like; nobles will be reduced to
waiting on these upstarts.
- In the sixteenth dream goats chased panthers, devouring them; the lowborn
will be raised to lordship and nobles will sink into obscurity and distress;
when the latter plead for their rights, the king's minions will have them
cudgelled and bastinadoed.
Having thus explained the dreams, the Buddha told Pasenadi a story of the
past. A king of Benares, named Brahmadatta, had dreams similar to those of
Pasenadi. When he consulted the brahmins, they began to prepare sacrifices. A
young brahmin protested, saying that animal sacrifice was against the teaching
of the Vedas, but they would not listen. The Bodhisatta, who was a hermit in the
Himālaya, possessed of insight, became aware of what was happening, travelled
through the air and took his seat in the park. There he was seen by a young
brahmin, who brought the king to the park. The Bodhisatta heard the king's
dreams and explained them to his satisfaction.
Ananda was the king and Sāriputta the young brahmin. J.i.334-45.