It is said that the Sakyans and the Koliyans dammed the waters of the Rohini River between Kapilavatthu and Koliya and cultivated the fields on both sides of the river. During the month of Jetthamula, the crops began to wilt, and the workers employed by both cities assembled. Those of Koliya said: "If the water is diverted to both sides of the river there will not be enough for both of us. As our crops will ripen with a single watering, let us have the water." But the Sakyans replied: "After your granaries are full, we will not be able to face taking our valuables and with basket and bags in hand, go begging from door to door from you. Our crops will ripen with a single watering, so let us have the water." "We will not give it to you." "And we will not let you have it." Talk grew bitter, one person struck another, the blow was returned, fighting broke out, and as they fought they cast aspersions upon the origin of the two royal families. The Koliyans workers said: "Take your brats and go where you belong. How can we be harmed by the elephants, horses, shields and weapons of those have slept with their own sisters like dogs and jackals?" The Sakyan workers replied: "You lepers, take your brats and go where you belong. How can we be harmed by the elephants, horses, shields and weapons of miserable outcasts who live up jujube trees like animals." Both groups went and reported the quarrel to the ministers who were in charge of the work, who in turn reported it to the royal households. The Sakyans prepared for battle, saying: "We will show them the strength and power of those who have slept with their sisters." The Koliyans prepared for battle, saying: "We will show them the strength and power of those who live up jujube trees." As the Lord surveyed the world at dawn he saw his kinsmen and thought: "If I do not go, these people will destroy each other. It is my duty to go to them." He passed through the air to where his kinsmen were gathered, and seated himself cross-legged in the air in the middle of the Rohini River. When the Lord's kinsmen saw him they put down their weapons and worshipped him. Then the Lord said: "What is this quarrel about, great king?" "We know not, reverend sir." "Then who would know?" "The commander-in-chief of the army will know." When asked, the commander-in-chief suggested the viceroy might know. Thus the Lord asked one after the other with none of them knowing the cause of the quarrel, until the workers were asked. They replied: "The quarrel is about the water." Then the Lord said to the king: "What is the value of water, great king?" "Very little, reverend sir." "What is the value of a warrior?" "A warrior, reverend sir, is beyond price." Then the Lord said: "It is right that for a little water you should kill warriors who are beyond price." They were all silent. Then the Lord said: "Great kings, why do you act thus? Were I not here today, you would cause a river of blood to flow. Your actions are unworthy. You live in hatred, given to the five kinds of hatred. I live full of love. You live sick with passions. I live free from sickness. You live chasing after the five kinds of sense pleasures. I live in contentment.
Dhammapada Atthhakatha 254
Dear Ven. Dhammika,
It was an interesting story with a valuable message in it. Even today people and countries all over the world are fighting and killing each other over little things of not much value or importance. Like for instance the boundary problems between the nations and countries. The land they are fighting over may not be even worth all the hatred, animosity and fighting.
As a matter of fact, is there anything worth fighting or dying for?
Since man stopped being a nomad, territorial instinct kicks in. He has to protect his back-breaking pasture from lazy plunderers. Fences, walls, barricades, moats, forts are all erected for the purpose of keeping barbarians out. If only they too have Buddha-nature!
I just discovered this blog and it is a great resource. Thank you so much for doing this.
yes, but... even the Buddha had to eat, and all of those people too, so if there was not enough water to grow crops for everybody, what did they do? Did he help them find a compromise? That would be interesting in light of today's discussions about fair distribution of resources.
Also wanted to add that I enjoy your blog very much and am grateful that you take the time. I can never keep up with reading! I met you in Vienna in 2000 or 2001, but now live in Canada. I was happy when I found your blog last year.
How nice to be in contact again. Your questions are good ones. No information is given as to how the problem was finally resolved and therefore the whole point of the story seems to have been lost. This is rather typical of such stories from the ancient Buddhist commentaries, which is where the story comes from. However, perhaps we could say that a message to be taken from this story is that dialogue and discussion rather than violence should be the way forward. I think another interesting element in the story (although presented in a rather unconvincing way) is that the warriors were prepared to resort to violence without knowing the ultimate cause of the conflict. How often has that happened before?
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