Buddha’s lesson on death.


Kisagotami’s marriage with the only son of a wealthy man was brought about in true fairy-tale fashion. Soon, she bore a child – a beautiful boy! But alas, when the boy was old enough to run, he fell into a pool and died.

The young mother was heartbroken. She couldn’t accept that the boy had passed away. She went from house to house, clasping the boy’s body to her bosom asking them to help her. Surely, there must be someone who can help, she thought!

A Buddhist mendicant saw her running around with her baby. Thinking “She does not understand,” said to her, “My good girl, I myself have no such medicine as you ask for, but I think I know of one who has.”

“O tell me who that is,” said Kisagotami.

“Gautama Buddha has arrived in the village next to yours. He can give you medicine. Go to him,” was the answer.

She went to the next village and met Gautama Buddha immediately. She bowed to him and prayed: “Lord and master, I’ve been sent to you for a medicine that will restore my child’s health. Please bring him back to life.”

“Yes, I can prepare the medicine for him,” said the Buddha, “but you’ll have to collect a few essentials to prepare it.”

Now it was the custom for patients or their friends to provide the herbs which the doctors required, so she asked what herbs he would want.

“I want some mustard seed,” he said; and when the poor girl eagerly promised to bring some of so common a drug, he added, “You must get it from some house where no-one has died.”

“Very well,” she said, and went to ask for it, still carrying her dead child with her.

The people said, “Here is mustard seed, take it.”

But when she asked, “In my friend’s house has any son died, or husband, or a parent or slave?” they answered, “Lady, what is this that you say? The living are few, but the dead are many.”

Then she went to other houses, but one said, “I have lost a son”; another, “We have lost our parents”; another, “I have lost my slave.”

At last, not being able to find a single house where no one had died, she finally understood Buddha’s message. She made up her mind, and buried her son in the forest and returned to the Buddha to pay homage.

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