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

royal edict."



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

consolation.



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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