A retelling of the Jataka Tale The Future Buddha as a Wise Judge
A woman went to the Buddha’s tank to wash herself and her child. At the tank was a Yakshini who took the form of a woman in an attempt to take the child and eat it. The Yakshini began to walk away with the child claiming it was hers. The woman and the Yakshini came into an argument over who the kid belonged to.
The Buddha would help settle this dispute. The Buddha drew a line on the ground and placed the child on that line. The Buddha told the Yakshini to grab the child’s arms and told the woman to hold onto the child’s legs.
Once the two started to pull on the child, the mother let go and began to cry seeing the pain the child was in. The Buddha then began to ask bystanders if the hearts of mothers are more close to children than non-birth givers. The bystanders replied that the hearts of mothers are closer to children.
Then the Buddha asked the bystanders if the mother was the woman with the child or the woman who let go of the child. The bystanders replied the mother was the one who let go of her child. The Buddha explained that he knew the Yakshini was not the mother due to the Yakshini’s non quivering eyes. The Buddha then reiterated that the Yakshini still continued to sin despite being born non human because of sins in the Yakshini's past life.
This Jataka tale is significantly related to three out of the four noble truths of Buddhism. This story exemplifies the belief of the Dukkha, which states that suffering exists in the world as shown through the suffering of the child and the mother who had to watch her child experience suffering. Additionally, this story illustrates Samudaya, or the belief that suffering is caused by attachment. The mother experiences suffering through physically and emotionally attaching herself to her child.
Lastly, Nirodha is a Buddhist belief evident in this story. Suffering ends through letting go of oneself and attachment in general. Symbolically, the woman was able to end the suffering of her child and eventually get the child back by letting go. This story also shows Buddha's infinite wisdom as the bystanders discover who the mother of the child is by listening to the Buddha and his intellect.