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Between Master and Disciples / Buddhist Stories

Buddhist Stories: The Better Wife, Part 1 of 4, Aug. 12, 2015

Lecture Language:English
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Before she went to the husband’s family, the mother said to her, “Hey, when you go to your husband’s family. You must remember, always wear beautiful clothes, and new. New and beautiful. You have to eat nice food, good food, tasty food. Every day you always have to look into the mirror. Don’t forget what I tell you.”

OK, wow! This story is incredible. OK. Now I don’t know where “The Better Wife” (story) is. Just a moment, I lost it. One moment. OK, here. I guess here it is.

Thus I have heard, this was a person named Lê Kỳ Di. I don’t know what that is in Sanskrit. Thus I have heard, at one time the Buddha was in Xá Vệ (Sravasti) country the gold garden of Cấp Cô Độc (Anàthapindika) and the Prince Kỳ-đà (Jeta). At that time the King Ba Tư Nặc (Pasenadi) had a prime minister, his name was Lê Kỳ Di. Lê Kỳ Di, the Prime Minister, was very rich, and had seven sons. Six of them were already married. The last one not yet; he was thinking to himself, the prime minister was thinking to himself, “Oh, I’m already too old, but there is one little son, he’s not yet married. If I want to marry him off I have to find a very good family’s daughter, and beautiful as well.”

And he loved the last son very much. And then he kept asking around. And one time one of his friends, who was a Brahmin, from the Brahmin caste, came to him. And then during talking, he said to him, “OK, my son, the last son, I want to marry him but I couldn’t find any worthy family. You are the one who travels all over, everywhere. Could you please tell me, is there any worthy and good family? You tell me, OK? If you find someone that really has good moral standards, nice, and peaceful, harmonizing person, then please tell me.” “OK, that’s no problem. I can help you.” So after a while he went all over the place, he went to another country and he saw 500, another 500; 500 virgin girls who were plucking flowers at that time.

So he walked after them to observe them. And then when they passed by a stream, everyone put up their trousers high and then walked over. Also, they took off their shoes, to walk over the stream. I think I told you this story before, I’m not sure, in Chinese. (Have) any of you heard this story before? OK, never mind. Only one girl did not do that. She walked through the stream with shoes on, with the trousers down, like usual. And then walking a little bit further there was a smaller river. Everybody else made their trousers even higher, took their shoes off and walked across the river. It’s not very deep, deep enough. Only that girl still did not do it.

And when they came over to a forest, everyone climbed up the trees to take the flowers high up, and then take the fruit. Only she did not do it. And when everybody went down she asked everybody for one flower, one fruit. So she also had a lot, because there’s 500. She didn’t have to do it. She asked for 500 flowers and 500 fruits from the different people, OK.

And then this person came in front of her, the one who didn’t take the shoes off, and asked, “Please Miss, can I ask you a few questions?” She said “Yes, please. Why?” He said, “I saw you cross the stream; you didn’t take your shoes off and you didn’t put your trousers up. Everybody else did it. Why?” She said, “Sir, it’s because shoes are to protect your feet, so that you don’t accidently step on something sharp, or a thorn or something like that, and hurt yourself. On the ground it’s still easier to see, to avoid, but under the water it’s very difficult to see anything sharp like that. It’s dangerous like that. Also sometimes (there are) some poisonous water snakes or some water insects, that’s why I didn’t take my shoes off.” Logical, huh?

And then he asked, “And then when we passed the river, everyone put their trousers up very high so they didn’t get wet. Why didn’t you do it?” She said, “Oh, Sir, a girl has to keep herself modest and covered for dignity. If you keep showing all of your body like that in any way, if anyone sees it, it’s not very dignified, discreet, and so I didn’t do it.” And then the man continued to ask. “Everyone else climbed up the trees to get the flowers and fruits. Why didn’t you?” She said, “Sir, climbing the tree, there is a risk of falling down when the tree branch breaks, it’s very dangerous. If I’m injured I might make my parents worry or maybe become even handicapped, that’s why I didn’t.”

Oh, I did, I did. I used to like fruit. I climbed small trees to get these guavas when they were ripe. So the man asked, “Excuse me, what is your name? Where are your parents?” So she said, "My name is Tỳ Xá Ly (Vaisali). My mother is the sister of the King Đàm Ma La Tiện (Damajadasri). Because she committed some crime, so she escaped to this country and married my father, and so I was born.” “And your parents are still here?” “Yes, yes. My parents are still alive.” “Can I follow you to your house and visit your parents?” “Oh, yes! Of course, Sir.”

So the girl took the man to her house, came in and said, “Father, Sir, there is a Brahmin outside who would like to visit you.” So everybody was talking. Visitors and the host were very happy, talking, talking. And the Brahmin said, “Sir, this girl is your daughter?” He said, “Yes, yes. She is a very, very good girl. I am proud of her.” “May I ask if she is already married?” “No, she is still studying, she is still a student.” “OK, Sir, in the Xá Vệ (Sravasti) country there is a prime minister named Lê Kỳ Di. Do you know him?” “Yeah, yeah. I knew him for a long time.” “OK, Sir, his last son is a very intelligent person and good looking. He would like you to give him your daughter as his wife. Can you do that?” He said, “Yeah, It’s good, it’s good. I agree, I agree. Because he and I are good friends. Also he is of a noble family. He’s very, very compatible.”

So this Brahmin came home and told the story to the prime minister. He wanted to (go), yes. But then, he had a friend, who was going to the Xá Vệ (Sravasti) country so he just wrote a letter to give to the prime minister. And that friend brought it to him. After that the prime minister prepared all the necessary dowry to send over there, go to the house of the girl, etc, etc. And the family of the girl treated them very importantly, very appropriately. Both of them were very happy and talking about the marriage of both sides. And then after that they married and then the girl went to the Xá Vệ (Sravasti) country, her husband’s country.

Before she went to the husband’s family, the mother said to her, “Hey, when you go to your husband’s family. You must remember, always wear beautiful clothes, and new. New and beautiful. You have to eat nice food, good food, tasty food. Every day you always have to look into the mirror. Don’t forget what I tell you.” “Yes, yes, Ma, I’ll remember. I would not dare to disobey you.” And this person, the prime minister heard the mother told the daughter like that, his daughter-in-law like that, and he thought to himself. “What kind of advice is that? Life is not always predictable. You are happy or you’re sad. You can eat good food, well (prepared) food or not; (this) you cannot always determine. And every day she must look into a mirror, what kind of advice! What a mother!” This is very illogical. But he didn’t say anything. And then he took his daughter-in-law home.

Of course, already married, what to do? Already everything’s done, what to do? But the marriage was very, very glorious. A prime minister and this rich family so it’s beautiful. A lot of people were watching, and firecracker lighting every day. A lot, a lot, all the way down to the house. As if somebody was welcoming a god.

In the middle of the way home, there was a restaurant with a veranda; it was very beautiful. Everyone had gone inside to rest. And then the daughter-in-law came in last. And she came over and talked to her father-in-law like this: “Father.” Even in our country, in Asia, a father-in-law is just like your father. Your family-in-law, is just like your family, so you address them father and mother just the same. She said to her father-in-law, “Father, dear Father, this house you cannot stay in. You have to go outside and rest outside.” So he was thinking, “OK, why not?” So he followed her to go outside, somewhere else. Many people didn’t follow them, didn’t believe her, so they stayed in the house. After a while a big, big herd of elephants came through and they just walked everywhere and then the house was kaput. Many people died. Some of them died. At that time, the prime minister was thinking to himself, “Wow! My daughter-in-law saved my life.”

And then they continued walking. Then they saw a little stream. Everybody stopped there and rested. But she came at last and said to the father-in-law, “Father Sir, here is not a good place to rest. We have to go higher up. Mid-mountain is better.” OK. So everybody followed her now, and they climbed up a little bit higher, on the higher mountain. In just a few minutes, black clouds covered the whole sky and then rain was coming down, and there was a lot of water from Heaven as well as from the top of the stream, it all came down and covered the whole area. But they were on high ground, so they were OK. They were not drowned. And then the prime minister thought to himself again, “Oh this time my daughter-in-law saved my life again.” Isn’t he lucky?

And then they continued on again, to their house. Of course everybody came out to greet them and they had a party, etc., like a marriage. At that time the prime minister gave a very big party for everybody. And then the marriage ritual was finished here, was done.

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