|When he had thus reassured the king, the
Buddha added: "It was neither truth nor love for you that prompted the brahmans to prophesy as they did. It was pure greed and selfishness
that led them to prescribe sacrifices." Thus the Buddha explained the meaning of the sixteen dreams. Then he said, "Nor are you the first to
have had these dreams. They were dreamed by kings of bygone days as well. Then, as now, brahmans found in them a pretext for sacrifices."
At the king's request, the Buddha told this story of the past. Long, long ago, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Baranasi, the Bodhisatta was
born into a brahman family in the North country. When he grew up, he renounced the world and became a hermit. Having attained a high level
of meditation, he acquired supernatural powers. One day, King Brahmadatta dreamed sixteen mysterious dreams and asked his advisors about them. The brahmans explained that the dreams foretold
evil and began preparing great sacrifices.
Seeing this, one of the pupils of the chief brahman, a young man of considerable learning and
wisdom, approached his teacher, and said, "Master, you have taught me the Three Vedas. Don't the texts say that it is never a good thing to
take life?" "My dear boy," answered the teacher, "this means money to us — a great deal of money. Why are you anxious to spare the king's
treasury?" "Do as you will, Master," replied the young man. "I will no longer stay here with you." With those words he left the palace and
went to the royal gardens. That same morning the Bodhisatta had thought to himself, "If I visit the king's garden today, I will save a great
number of creatures from death." The young brahman found the ascetic radiant as a golden image sitting on the king's ceremonial stone seat
in the garden. He sat down in an appropriate place, paid respect to the hermit, and entered into pleasant conversation with him. The hermit
asked the young man if he thought the king ruled righteously.
|"Sir," he answered, "the king himself is righteous, but the Brahmans are leading him astray. The king consulted with them about sixteen dreams he had,
and the Brahmans jumped at the opportunity for sacrifices. Venerable sir, how good it would be for you to explain to the king the real meaning of his dreams! Your explanation will save many animals from cruel death!"
"I do not know the king, nor does he know me. If he comes here and asks me, however, I will tell him." "Please wait here, sir. I will bring the king,"
said the young brahman. He hurried to the king and told him there was a wondrous ascetic who would interpret the dreams. He asked the king to visit the
ascetic and talk with him. The king immediately agreed and went to the garden with his retinue. Paying his respects to the ascetic, he sat down and asked if the ascetic could tell him what would come of his dreams.
|"Certainly, sire," he answered. "Let me hear the dreams as you dreamed them."
The king proceeded to tell the dreams exactly as King Pasenadi told them to the Buddha. "Enough!" said the Bodhisatta. "You have nothing to fear from any of these dreams."
Having reassured the king and having freed a great number of creatures from death, the hermit, poised in midair, taught the king how to observe the Five Precepts and concluded by saying, "From this time on, sire, do not join the brahmans in slaughtering animals for sacrifice!"
Remaining firm in the teaching he had heard and spending the rest of his days in alms-giving and other good works, the king passed away to fare according to his deserts.
His lesson ended, the Buddha said, "Sire, you too have nothing to fear from these dreams. Stop the sacrifice!" Then the Buddha identified the Birth by saying, "Ananda was the king of those days, Sariputta was the young brahman, and I was the ascetic."