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Copyright © 2023 Tomás Morales y Duran. All Rights Reserved


Things don't just happen, nor do people come out like the rabbit out of the hat. Everything that is in the world is conditioned, and those conditions are its antecedents. The future Buddha was not going to be different. He couldn't.

The following story is recorded in sutta 81 of the Collection of Medium-Length Discourses, Majjhima Nikāya. In it the Buddha recalls one of his previous lives, when he himself was a disciple of the Buddha Kassapa.

He says like this:


“Once, Ānanda, there was a trading town in this place called Vebhaliṅga. It was successful, prosperous and full of people. And Kassapa, a blessed one, a Worthy one, a fully awakened Buddha, lived supported by Vebhaliṅga. In fact, it was here that he had his own monastery, where he sat and advised the Saṅgha of the bhikkhus.

The Buddha Kassapa had as his chief assistant at Vebhaliṅga a potter named Ghaṭīkāra. Ghaṭīkāra had a close friend named Jotipāla, a young Brahmin. Then Ghaṭīkāra addressed Jotipāla: “Come, dear Jotipāla, let us see the Blessed Kassapa, the Worthy, the fully awakened Buddha. It is good to see this Master who is a venerable one who has achieved perfect awakening by himself."

When he said this, Jotipāla told him:

“Enough, dear Ghaṭīkāra. What is the use of seeing that bald man, that false ascetic?

For the second time... and for the third time, Ghaṭīkāra addressed Jotipāla:

—Come, dear Jotipāla, let us go to see the Blessed Kassapa, the Worthy, the fully awakened Buddha. Because I consider holy to see the Blessed.

For the third time, Jotipāla told him:

“Enough, dear Ghaṭīkāra. What is the use of seeing that bald man, that false ascetic?

“Well, dear Jotipāla, let's take some bath paste and back scrapers and go to the river for a bath.

"Yes, dear," Jotipāla replied. So that's what they did.

Ghaṭīkāra then addressed Jotipāla:

—Dear Jotipāla, the monastery of Buddha Kassapa is not far. Let us go to see the Blessed Kassapa, the Worthy, the fully awakened Buddha. Because I consider holy to see the Blessed.

When he said this, Jotipāla told him:

“Enough, dear Ghaṭīkāra. What is the use of seeing that bald man, that false ascetic?

For the second time... and for the third time, Ghaṭīkāra addressed Jotipāla:

“Dear Jotipāla, Buddha Kassapa's monastery is not far away. Let us go to see the Blessed Kassapa, the Worthy, the fully awakened Buddha. Because I consider holy to see the Blessed.

For the third time, Jotipāla told him:

“Enough, dear Ghaṭīkāra. What is the use of seeing that bald man, that false ascetic?

Ghaṭīkāra then seized Jotipāla by the belt and said:

“Dear Jotipāla, Buddha Kassapa's monastery is not far away. Let us go to see the Blessed Kassapa, the Worthy, the fully awakened Buddha. Because I consider holy to see the Blessed.

So Jotipāla unbuckled his belt and said to Ghaṭīkāra:

“Enough, dear Ghaṭīkāra. What is the use of seeing that bald man, that false ascetic?

Ghaṭīkāra then seized Jotipāla by the hair of his freshly washed head and said:

“Dear Jotipāla, Buddha Kassapa's monastery is not far away. Let us go to see the Blessed Kassapa, the Worthy, the fully awakened Buddha. Because I consider holy to see the Blessed.

Then Jotipāla thought, “It is unbelievable, it is astonishing, how this Ghaṭikāra potter, although he was born in a lower caste, dares to grab hold of my freshly washed hair! This should not be an ordinary matter."

He told Ghaṭīkāra:

"Would you even impose it to this extent, dear Ghaṭīkāra?"

“I even enforce it to this extent, dear Jotipāla. Because that's how holy I consider seeing that Blessed.

—Well, then, dear Ghaṭīkāra, release me, we're leaving.

Then Ghaṭīkāra the potter and Jotipāla the young Brahmin approached the Buddha Kassapa. Ghaṭīkāra bowed and sat to one side, but Jotipāla exchanged greetings with the Buddha and sat to one side.

Ghaṭīkāra told the Buddha Kassapa:

“Sir, this is my dear friend Jotipāla, a young Brahmin. Please teach him the Dhamma.

Then Buddha Kassapa educated, encouraged, encouraged and inspired Ghaṭikāra and Jotipāla with a Dhamma talk. They then rose from his seat, bowed, and respectfully encircled the Kassapa Buddha, keeping him to his right, before leaving.

Then Jotipāla told Ghatīkāra:

“Dear Ghaṭīkāra, you have heard this teaching, so why don't you go from home life to homeless life?

"Don't you know, dear Jotipāla, that I take care of my old blind parents?"

“Well then, dear Ghaṭīkāra, I will pass from home life to homelessness.

Ghaṭīkāra and Jotipāla then approached Buddha Kassapa, bowed down and sat to one side. Ghaṭīkāra told the Buddha Kassapa:

“Sir, this is my dear friend Jotipāla, a young Brahmin. Please give him the resignation. And Jotipāla, the Brahmin student, received the resignation, the ordination in the presence of the Buddha Kassapa.

Shortly after Jotipāla's ordination, a fortnight later, the Buddha Kassapa, who had stayed at Vebhaliṅga all the time he had planned, he left for Vārāṇasī. Traveling stage by stage, he reached Vārāṇasī, where he stayed near Vārāṇasī, in the Isipatana Deer Park. King Kikī of Kāsi heard that he had arrived. He had the best caparisoned carriages. He then got into a beautiful carriage and, along with other beautiful carriages, set out in all royal pomp from Vārāṇasī to see the Buddha Kassapa. He rode in a carriage as far as the terrain permitted, then descended and approached Buddha Kassapa on foot. He bowed and sat to one side. The Buddha taught him, encouraged him, encouraged him, and inspired him with a Dhamma talk.

Then King Kiki said to the Buddha:

"Sir, could the Buddha, along with the Saṅgha of the bhikkhus, accept tomorrow's food from me?"

The Buddha Kassapa silently consented.

Then, knowing that the Buddha had given his consent, King Kiki rose from his seat, bowed, and respectfully encircled the Buddha, keeping him to his right, before leaving. And when he spent the night, King Kiki had a variety of delicious meals prepared in his own house: soft saffron rice with selected dark grains, served with many soups and sauces. He then had the Buddha inform him of the time, saying:

"Sir, it's time. The food is ready.

Then the Buddha Kassapa dressed in the morning and, taking his bowl and robe from him, went to the house of King Kikī, where he sat on the extended seat, together with the Saṅgha of the bhikkhus. Then King Kikī served and satisfied the Saṅgha of the bhikkhus headed by the Buddha with his own hands with a variety of delicious foods.

When Buddha Kassapa had finished eating and washing his hands and bowl, King Kiki took a low seat and sat to one side. There he told the Buddha Kassapa:

“Sir, may the Buddha accept my invitation to reside in Vārāṇasī during the rainy season. The Saṅgha will be cared for in the same way.

“Enough, great king. I already accepted an invitation to the rainy residence.

For the second time... and for the third time, King Kiki said to the Buddha Kassapa:

“Sir, may the Buddha accept my invitation to reside in Vārāṇasī during the rainy season. The Saṅgha will be cared for in the same way.

“Enough, great king. I already accepted an invitation to the rainy residence.

Then King Kikī thought, "The Buddha does not accept my invitation to reside during the rains in Vārāṇasī," he became sad and upset. Then King Kiki said to the Buddha Kassapa:

"Sir, do you have a better boss than me?"

—Great King, there is a trading city called Vebhaliṅga, where there is a potter named Ghaṭīkāra. He is my main employer. Now, great king, you thought, "The Buddha does not accept my invitation to reside during the rains in Vārāṇasī," and you became sad and upset. But Ghaṭīkāra does not get angry.

Ghaṭīkāra has taken shelter of the Buddha, the Teaching and the Saṅgha. He does not kill living creatures, steal, engage in sexual misconduct, lie, or drink alcoholic beverages that cause negligence. He has faith in the Tathāgata's enlightenment, the Teaching and the Saṅgha, and he has the ethics loved by the nobles. He is free from doubts about suffering, the origin of it, its cessation and the practice that he leads to its cessation. He eats for part of the day, he is celibate, ethical and of good character. He put away the gems and gold, and gave up the use of gold and silver. He has put down the shovel and does not dig the earth with his bare hands. He takes what has washed up on a river bank or been dug up by mice and brings it back in a transporter. When he has made a pot, he says, "Anyone can drop bags of sesame, mung beans, or chickpeas in here and take what they want." He takes care of his old blind parents. And since he has finished with the five minor addictions, Ghaṭīkāra will be reborn spontaneously and attain Nibbāna there without returning from that world.

This time, great king, I was staying near the trading city of Vebhaliṅga. I then dressed in the morning and, taking my bowl and robe, went to the house of Ghaṭīkāra's parents, where I told them:

"Excuse me, where has Bhaggava gone?"

"Your employer is out, sir." But you can take the rice out of the pot and the sauce out of the pan and you can eat.

So that's what I did. And after eating I got up from my seat and left. Ghaṭīkāra approached his parents and said:

"Who took the rice from the pot and the sauce from the pot, he ate it and left?"

“It was the Buddha Kassapa, dear.

Then Ghaṭīkāra thought, "I am so lucky, so lucky, because Buddha Kassapa trusts me so much!" Then joy and happiness did not leave him for a fortnight, nor his parents for a week.

On another occasion, great king, I was staying near the same trading city of Vebhaliṅga. I then dressed in the morning and, taking my bowl and robe, went to the house of Ghaṭīkāra's parents, where I told them:

"Excuse me, where has Bhaggava gone?"

"Your employer is out, sir." But you canTake the porridge out of the pot and the sauce out of the pot and you can eat.

So that's what I did. And after eating I got up from my seat and left. Ghaṭīkāra approached his parents and said:

"Who took the porridge from the pot and the sauce from the pot, ate it, and left?"

“It was the Buddha Kassapa, dear.

Then Ghaṭīkāra thought, "I am so lucky, so lucky that Buddha Kassapa trusts so much!" Then joy and happiness did not leave him for a fortnight, nor his parents for a week.

On another occasion, great king, I was staying near the same trading city of Vebhaliṅga. At the time, my cabin had a leak. So I addressed the bhikkhus,

“Bhikkhus, go to Ghaṭikāra's house and find some grass.

When I said this, those bhikkhus told me:

—Sir, there is no grass, but his workshop has a grass roof.

"Then go to the workshop and cut the grass."

So that's what they did. Ghaṭīkāra's parents told those bhikkhus:

"Who's weeding the workshop?"

'They are bhikkhus, brother. The Buddha's cabin is leaking.

"Take it, gentlemen!" Take it, dear ones!

Ghaṭīkāra then approached his parents and said:

"Who uprooted the grass in the workshop?"

'It was the bhikkhus, dear. Looks like the Buddha's cabin has a leak.

Then Ghaṭīkāra thought, "I am so lucky, so lucky that Buddha Kassapa trusts so much!" Then joy and happiness did not leave him for a fortnight, nor his parents for a week. Then the workshop remained with the sky as a roof for the entire three months, but it did not rain on it. And that, great king, is how Ghaṭīkāra the potter is.

—Ghaṭīkāra, the potter, is lucky, very lucky, that the Buddha Kassapa trusts him so much.

Then King Kikī sent about five hundred carts of rice, soft saffron rice and suitable sauce to Ghaṭīkāra. Then one of the king's men approached Ghaṭīkāra and said:

“Sir, these five hundred carts of rice, soft saffron rice and appropriate sauce, have been sent to you by King Kiki of Kāsī. Please accept them.

“The king has many duties and much to do. I have enough. Let this be for the king himself.

Ānanda, you might think, "Surely the young Brahmin Jotipāla must have been someone else at that time?" But you shouldn't see it like that. I myself was the young Jotipāla at that time.


The other protagonist of our story, the Mahābrahmā Sahampati, also reminds us of his former life together with Buddha Kassapa himself, in sutta 48.57 of the Collection of Intertwined Discourses:


At a certain time, when he first woke up, the Buddha was near Uruvelā under the banyan tree on the banks of the Nerañjarā river. Later, while he was secluded in a solitary place, this thought occurred to him: "When these five faculties are developed and cultivated, they culminate, terminate, and end in the Immortal."

"What five?"

—The faculty of faith, the faculty of energy, the faculty of memory, the faculty of contemplation, and the faculty of wisdom. When these five faculties are developed and cultivated, they culminate, end, and end in the Immortal.

Then the Brahmā Sahampati knew what the Buddha was thinking. As easily as a strong person stretches out or shrinks his arm, he disappeared from the Brahmā realm and reappeared in front of the Buddha. He adjusted his robe over one shoulder, raised his joined palms toward the Buddha, and said:

"That's so true, Master!" That is so true, Master! When these five faculties are developed and cultivated, they culminate, end, and end in the Immortal.

"What five?"

—The faculty of faith, the faculty of energy, the faculty of memory, the faculty of contemplation, and the faculty of wisdom. When these five faculties are developed and cultivated, they culminate, end, and end in the Immortal.

—Once, Master, I lived the life of renouncement under the fully awakened Buddha Kassapa. There I was known as the bhikkhu Sahaka. Due to developing and cultivating these same five faculties, I lost the craving for sensory pleasures. When my body broke, after death, I was reborn in a good place, in the realm of Brahmā. There I am known as Brahmā Sahampati.


Sahaka, himself an anagami, reborn in the Brahmā realm as the Mahābrahmā Sahampati awaits that young Jotipāla, both disciples of the Buddha Kassapa, reborn as the future Buddha Gotama to intervene and convince him to teach.

The enlightenment of a Buddha is always a couple's story, where the role of one cannot be understood without the other.


Jotipāla and Sahaka, two little colleagues... who knew?

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