| Minor Stories Index
The Story of Tambadathika
While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (100) of this
reference to Tambadathika, the executioner of thieves.
Tambadathika served the king as an executioner of thieves for fifty-five years;
he had just
retired from that post. One day, after preparing rice gruel at his house, he
went to the river
for a bath; he had intended to take the specially prepared rice gruel on his
return. As he was
about to take the rice gruel, Thera
Sariputta, who had just arisen from
in Concentration (jhana samapatti), stood at his door for alms-food. Seeing the
Tambadathika thought to himself, "Throughout my life, I have been executing
thieves; now I
should offer this food to the thera." So, he invited Thera
Sariputta to come in
respectfully offered the rice gruel.
After the meal, the thera taught him the Dhamma, but Tambadathika could not pay
because he was so agitated as he recollected his past life as an executioner.
When the thera
knew this, he decided to ask Tambadathika tactfully, whether he killed the
he wished to kill them, or because he was ordered to do so. Tambadathika answered
was ordered to kill them by the king and that he had no wish to kill. Then the
thera asked, "If
that is so, would you be guilty or not ?" Tambadathika then concluded that, as
he was not
responsible for the evil deeds, he was not guilty. He, therefore, calmed down,
the thera to continue his exposition. As he listened to the Dhamma with proper
came very close to attaining Sotapatti Magga, and reached as far as anuloma
the discourse, Tambadathika accompanied Thera
Sariputta for some distance and
returned home. On his way home a cow (actually a demon in the guise of a cow)
gored him to
When the Buddha came to the congregation of the Bhikkhus in the evening, they
about the death of Tambadathika. When asked where Tambadathika was reborn, the
told them that although Tambadathika had committed evil deeds throughout his
he comprehended the Dhamma after hearing it from Thera
Sariputta and had already
attained anuloma nana before he died, he was reborn in the Tusita deva world.
wondered how such an evil-doer could have such great benefit after listening to
just once. The Buddha
told them that the length of a discourse is of no
one single word of sense can produce much benefit.
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
Verse 100. Better than a thousand words that are senseless and unconnected with
realization of Nibbana, is a single word of
essence, when hearing it, one is
* anuloma nana: Knowledge conforming to the real & true = Vipassana Insight, which causes
the nama-rupa process of the yogi
fully adapted for Magga Insight.
Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A.,
Burma Pitaka Association, Rangoon, Burma 1986.
24 December 2016