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Verse 116: The Story of Culla-Ekasataka

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (116) of this book, with
reference to a brahmin couple by the name of Culla-Ekasataka.

There was once a brahmin couple in Savatthi, who had only one outer garment between the
two of them. Because of this they were also known as Ekasataka. As they had only one outer
garment, both of them could not go out at the same time. So, the wife would go to listen to
the discourse given by the Buddha during the day and the husband would go at night. One
night, as the brahmin listened to the Buddha, his whole body came to be suffused with
delightful satisfaction and he felt a strong desire to offer the outer garment he was
wearing to the Buddha. But he realized, that if he were to give away the only outer garment
he had, there would be none left for him and his wife. So he wavered and hesitated. Thus, the
first and the second watches of the night passed. Came the third watch and he said to
himself, "If I am so miserly and hesitant, I will not be able to avoid falling into the 4 Lower
Worlds (apayas); I shall now offer my outer garment to the Buddha." So saying, he placed
the piece of cloth at the feet of the Buddha and cried out "I have won" three times.

King Pasenadi of Kosala, who was among the audience, heard those words and ordered a
courtier to investigate. Learning about the brahmin's offering to the Buddha, the king
commented, that the brahmin had done something, which was not easy to do and so should be
rewarded. The king ordered his men to give the brahmin a piece of cloth as a reward for his
faith and generosity. The brahmin offered that piece of cloth also to the Buddha and he was
rewarded by the king with two pieces of cloth. Again, the brahmin offered the two pieces of
cloth to the Buddha and he was rewarded with four. Thus, he offered to the Buddha
whatever was given him by the king, and each time the king doubled his reward. When finally,
the reward came up to thirty-two pieces of cloth, the brahmin kept one piece for himself and
another for his wife, and offered the remaining thirty pieces to the Buddha.

Then the kinf, thinking again that the brahmin had truly performed a very difficult task
and so he must be rewarded fittingly. The king sent a messenger to the palace to bring two
pieces of velvet cloth, each of which was worth one hundred thousand, and gave them to the
brahmin. The brahmin made those two pieces of valuable cloth into two canopies and kept one
in the Perfumed Chamber where the Buddha slept and the other in his own house above the
place where a Bhikkhu was regularly offered alms-food. When the king next went to
Jetavana monastery to pay homage to the Buddha, he saw the velvet canopy and recognized
it as the offering made by the brahmin and he was very pleased. This time he made a reward
of seven kinds in fours (sabbacatukka), viz., four elephants, four horses, four female slaves,
four male slaves, four errand boys, four villages and four thousands in cash.

When the Bhikkhus heard about this, they asked the Buddha, "How is it that, in the case of
this brahmin, a good deed done at present bears fruit immediately?" To them the Buddha
replied "If the brahmin had offered his outer garment in the first watch of the night, he
would have been rewarded with sixteen of each kind; if he had made his offering during the
middle watch, he would have been rewarded with eight of each kind; since he had made his
offering only during the last watch of the night, he was rewarded with only four of each
kind." So, when one wants to give in charity, one should do so quickly; if one hesitates,
the reward comes slowly & only sparingly. Also, if one is too slow in doing good deeds, one
may not be able to do it at all, for the mind tends to take delight in doing evil.

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 116. One should make haste in doing good deeds; one should restrain one's mind from evil;
for the mind of one who is slow in doing good tends to take delight in doing evil.

Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A.,
Burma Pitaka Association, Rangoon, Burma 1986.

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