Once upon a time the Bodhisattva, leading the life of an ascetic, was meditating at the foot of a tree in the king’s royal park. He was living there at the invitation of the king’s general. One day the king went to the park with the ladies of the court. In a drunken state he slept with his head on the lap of a favourite lady. As he was asleep the others went up to the ascetic to listen to his teaching.
On waking he found the ladies missing. Hearing that they had gone to the ascetic and questioned him in a harsh tone: ‘What do you preach, you ascetic?’ ‘I preach on patience, your majesty,’ replied the ascetic calmly. ‘What is patience?’ ‘Patience is not getting angry when you are abused or beaten.’ ‘Well, I will then test your patience,’ said the king and summoning the executioner ordered him to throw the ascetic on the ground and beat him with a thorny whip. The innocent ascetic was whipped mercilessly. The ascetic’s skin burst. The whole body was smeared with blood. But the ascetic true to his teaching endured his pain patiently. ‘Do you still practise patience, ascetic?’ ‘Yes, still I do, your majesty!’ The king then order that his hands and feet be cut off and questioned him again. The same calm reply issued from his lips. Full of wrath the king ordered his nose and ears to be cut off.
Mercilessly the executioner chopped off his nose and ears . With mutilated limbs as the good ascetic lay on a pool of blood, the king asked him again – ‘Do you still practise patience, ascetic?’ ‘You majesty, please do not think that my patience lies in my skin, or in my hands and feet, or in my nose and ears. My patience lies within my heart. With your superior strength you can overpower my weak body. But, your majesty, my mind can never be changed,’ coolly replied the ascetic. He harboured no ill will towards the king. Not did he look at him with any anger.
The king’s anger knew no bounds. Deeply enraged he raised his foot and stamped on the chest of the ascetic with his heel. Immediately blood gushed out of his mouth. The general who had invited him heard of his pitiful state, and hurried to his presence. Quickly he applied some ointment and begged him not to curse the kingdom. The merciful ascetic, instead of cursing the king blessed him, saying, ‘He who caused my hands and feet, nose and ears, to be cut off, may that king live long! Men like us never get angry,’ After his Enlightenment, the Buddha said, ‘Though hacked by a sharp axe as if I was inanimate, I did not get angry with King Kasi. This is my Perfection of Patience (Khanti Parami).’ – Adapted from Khantivadi Jakata
The Ten Perfections (Dasa Paramis)
Venerable Narada Thera