The Sinner

When Brahma-Datta ruled Banaras, a wealthy merchant lived in that city with a son named Mitra-vindaka: This Mitra-vindaka was a wicked unbeliever.

After his father’s Death, his mother tried to persuade him to give alms, practise virtue and follow the Dharma. The boy turned a deaf ear to his mother and refused to change his way of life.

On a full-moon day, the mother said to Mitra-Vindaka, “Son, it is a holy day. There will be preaching all night. Take the vows, go to the abbey and listen to the Law. When you return, I will give you a thousand pieces of money.”

For the sake of the money, Mitra-vindaka consented. He went to the abbey, but instead of listening to the Law, he lay down in a corner and slept. Early in the morning, he washed his face and went home.

The mother, expecting her son to return with the Elder who preached the Law, prepared food and awaited them. She was disappointed to see the son come alone.

“Why did you not bring the preacher?” she asked.

“No preacher for me, mother,” Mitra-vindaka replied.

He ate his food, took a thousand pieces of money from his mother, and continued his business.

Soon he gained a sum of two million in trade.

“With this money,” he speculated, “I shall buy a ship and trade across the seas and make more money!”

He bought the ship, loaded it with cargo and went to his mother to tell her that he was going on the seas.

“You are my only son,” said the mother. “You have so much money. What more do you want? It is dangerous to go on the seas. Do not go.”

Mitra-vindaka, however, insisted on going. The mother caught him by the hand and implored him to stay. The boy struck her down and was gone. Soon he was underway.

The ship sailed for seven days on the sea without a hitch. But on the eighth day, in mid-ocean, it became immovable. Lots were cast to find out which one aboard was the cause of the mishap, and Mitra-vindaka got the lot.

Thrice the lot was cast, and all three times, Mitra-vindaka got it!

“Let us not perish for the sake of one,” the sailors said to Mitra-vindaka. “You are the cause of trouble. So leave the ship!”

They gave him a raft and cast him adrift on the sea. At once, the ship sprang forward and was gone.

Soon the raft took Mitra-vindaka to an isle.

There he found a crystal palace in which four female spirits of the dead lived. Seven days they spent happily and seven days in woe.

For seven days, he lived with them and was very happy.

Then when their week of woe began, he got on to his raft and went away.

He went to another aisle where he saw eight spirits, lived with them for a week and when their week of woe started, went away to another hall where he lived with sixteen shades and yet another where he lived with thirty- two hearts.

Leaving them, he went on his raft across the sea till he came to a city with four gates and a wall. This was Ussada Hell, but it looked beautiful to him. “I shall enter the city and become its king,” he thought.

He entered the city and saw a man with a razor wheel on his head and fivefold fetters on his breast. The wheel cut into his head; he was bleeding and groaning with pain.

But to Mitra-vindaka, he looked like the King of the place, the wheel like a lotus flower, the letters like rich vesture and his groans like sweet music.

He approached the man and said, “Let me also wear that beautiful lotus on my head. You have been wearing it long enough!”

“Sir, this is no lotus,” said the man. “This is the razor wheel,”

“Ah, because you don’t wish to give it,” Mitra-vindaka said, “you say so!”

“This man is here,” thought the tortured man, “because of smiting his mother, like me. He has come to release me, Must be, I have paid for my sin.”

Then the man put the razor wheel on Mitra-vindaka’s head and departed.

By and by, Bodhisatva, King of the gods, came there on his rounds with a large entourage. He saw Mitra-vindaka with the razor wheel on his head and the fivefold fetters on his breast and halted before him.

“O Lord,” Mitra-vindaka asked him, “how can I get rid of this razor wheel?”

The King of the gods replied, “You had money, but you wanted more. Your desires were never satisfied. Even when you did a good deed, it was only out of selfishness, but not out of a pure heart. You lived with four spirits, then with eight, sixteen, and thirty-two spirits. It bothers me that you didn’t care to tread the highest path of a human being. You rejected the friendly advice of the man bearing the razor wheel before you and brought the wheel on yourself. Now you want to be saved. No one except Death can save you from the wheel!”

Then the Divine Being departed, leaving Mitra-vindaka in misery.

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