In The Realm Of Yamaraja
There was a Brahman, a religious man and fond in his affections
but without deep wisdom. He had a son of great promise, who, when
seven years old, was struck with a fatal disease and died. The
unfortunate father was unable to control himself; he threw
himself upon the corpse and lay there as one dead.
The relatives came and buried the dead child and when the father
came to himself, he was so immoderate in his grief that he
behaved like an insane person. He no longer gave way to tears but
wandered about asking for the residence of Yamaraja, the king of
death, humbly to beg of him that his child might be allowed to
return to life.
Having arrived at a great Brahman temple the sad father went
through certain religious rites and fell asleep. While wandering
on in his dream he came to a deep mountain pass where he met a
number of samanas who had acquired supreme wisdom. "Kind sirs,"
he said, "can you not tell me where the residence of Yamaraja
is?" And they asked him, "Good friend, why wouldst thou know?"
Whereupon he told them his sad story and explained his
intentions. Pitying his self-delusion, the samanas said: "No
mortal man can reach the place where Yama reigns, but some four
hundred miles westward lies a great city in which many good
spirits live; every eighth day of the month Yama visits the
place, and there mayst thou see him who is the King of Death and
ask him for a boon."
The Brahman rejoicing at the news went to the city and found it
as the samanas had told him. He was admitted to the dread
presence of Yama, the King of Death, who, on hearing his request,
said: "Thy son now lives in the eastern garden where he is
disporting himself; go there and ask him to follow thee."
Said the happy father: "How does it happen that my son, without
having performed one good work, is now living in paradise?"
Yamaraja replied: "He has obtained celestial happiness not for
performing good deeds, but because he died in faith and in love
to the Lord and Master, the most glorious Buddha. The Buddha
says: 'The heart of love and faith spreads as it were a
beneficent shade from the world of men to the world of gods.'
This glorious utterance is like the stamp of a lung's seal upon a
The happy father hastened to the place and saw his beloved child
playing with other children, all transfigured by the peace of the
blissful existence of a heavenly life. He ran up to his boy and
cried with tears running down his cheeks: "My son, my son, dost
thou not remember me, thy father who watched over thee with
loving care and tended thee in thy sickness? Return home with me
to the land of the living." But the boy, while struggling to go
back to his playmates, upbraided him for using such strange
expressions as father and son. "In my present state," he said, "I
know no such words, for I am free from delusion."
On this, the Brahman departed, and when he woke from his dream he
bethought himself of the Blessed Master of mankind, the great
Buddha, and resolved to go to him, lay bare his grief, and seek
Having arrived at the Jetavana, the Brahman told his story and
how his boy had refused to recognize him and to go home with him.
And the World-honored One said: "Truly thou art deluded. When man
dies the body is dissolved into its elements, but the spirit is
not entombed. It leads a higher mode of life in which all the
relative terms of father, son, wife, mother, are at an end, just
as a guest who leaves his lodging has done with it, as though it
were a thing of the past. Men concern themselves most about that
which passes away; but the end of life quickly comes as a burning
torrent sweeping away the transient in a moment. They are like a
blind man set to look after a burning lamp. A wise man,
understanding the transiency of worldly relations, destroys the
cause of grief, and escapes from the seething whirlpool of
sorrow. Religious wisdom lifts a man above the pleasures and
pains of the world and gives him peace everlasting."
The Brahman asked the permission of the Blessed One to enter the
community of his bhikkhus, so as to acquire that heavenly wisdom
which alone can give comfort to an afflicted heart.
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