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Verse 126: The Story of Thera Tissa

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (126) of this book,
with reference to Thera Tissa.

Once, there was a gem polisher and his wife in Savatthi; there was also a thera, who was an
Arahat. Every day, the couple offered alms-food to the thera. One day, while the gem
polisher was handling meat, a messenger of King Pasenadi of Kosala arrived with a ruby,
which was to be cut and polished and sent back to the king. The gem polisher took the ruby
with his hand which was covered with blood, put it on a table and went into the house to wash
his hands. The pet crane of the family seeing the blood stained ruby and taking it for a piece
of meat picked it up and swallowed it in the presence of the thera. When the gem polisher
returned, he found that the ruby was missing. He asked his wife and his son and they
answered that they had not taken it. Then, he asked the thera and the thera said that he did
not take it; but he was not satisfied. As there was no one else in the house, the gem polisher
concluded that it must be the thera who had taken the precious ruby: so he told his wife that
he must torture the thera to get admission of theft.

But his wife replied, "This thera had been our guide and teacher for the last twelve years,
and we have never seen him doing anything evil; please do not accuse the thera. It would be
better to take the king's punishment than to accuse a noble one." But her husband paid no
heed to her words; he took a rope and tied up the thera and beat him many times with a
stick, as a result of which the thera bled profusely from the head, ears and nose, and
dropped on the floor. The crane, seeing blood and wishing to take it, came close to the thera.
The gem polisher, who was by then in a great rage, kicked the crane with all his might and the
bird died instantaneously. Then, the thera said, "Please see whether the crane is dead or
not," and the gem polisher replied, "You too shall die like this crane." When the thera was
sure the crane had died, he said softly, "My disciple, the crane swallowed the ruby."

Hearing this, the gem polisher cut up the crane and found the ruby in the stomach. Then the
gem polisher realized his mistake and trembled with fear. He pleaded with the thera to
pardon him and also to continue standing at his door for alms. To him the thera replied, "My
disciple, it is not your fault, nor is it mine. This has happened on account of what has been
done in our previous existences; it is just our debt in samsara; I feel no ill will towards you.
As a matter of fact, this has happened because I have entered a house. From today, I will
not enter any house; I would only stand at the door." Soon after saying this, the thera
expired as a result of his injuries.

Later, the Bhikkhus asked the Buddha where the various characters in the above episode
were reborn, and the Buddha answered, "The crane was reborn as the son of the gem
polisher; the gem polisher was reborn in niraya; the wife of the gem polisher was reborn in
one of the deva worlds; and the thera, who was already an Arahat when he was living, entered

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 126. Some are reborn as human beings, the wicked are reborn in a place of continuous
torment (niraya). the righteous go to the deva world, and those who are free from moral
intoxicants (viz., the Arahats) realize Nibbana.

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

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