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The Story of the Greengrocer (Pannika-Jataka)

The Story of the Greengrocer

At one time the Buddha who was the teacher of the three worlds and who was endowed with eighty features of beauty was living at the temple of the Jeta grove. This story was told with regard to a greengrocer.

There was a greengrocer who was a pious person with a great confidence in the value of the three jewels. He collected different spices such as ginger and turmeric, green leaves, pumpkins, and cucumbers, and sold them to make his living. He had a very beautiful daughter who was pleasing to everyone who looked at her. She was endowed with the fear and shame of doing any wrong. She always smiled. Many people of her class came to ask for her to marry them. As this girl was always smiling and pleasing others, her father doubted her purity. Therefore, her father wanted to examine her to find out whether or not she was a virgin.' To this end, he asked her to carry for him a box, pretending they were going to pick wild leaves. Once in the forest the father also pretended that he had lustful thoughts, and he took her hand in such a fashion as to try to persuade her to be loving.
At the moment he took her hand she began to cry and lament, and said to him, "My lord, father. This is not good for you. This is something unnatural like fire coming from water. It is not good for such an unwholesome act to be done by a person such as your lordship."
On hearing this, the father said, "Oh, my mother. I touched you that way to examine your nature. Now you can go home. I wanted to know whether or not you were a virgin." He then requested of her to let him disclose her purity.
Thereupon she said, "My lord, father. I have my virginity. I have never even looked at the face of a man with lustful thoughts."
Her father, comforting his daughter, went home and organized a wedding ceremony. He gave her to a certain youth who was appropriate for her. After that he wanted to take her to the Buddha to get a blessing for her for a favorable marriage. Taking fragrant flowers and perfume, he went with her to Jeta grove and gave respect to the Buddha. They sat by the side of the Buddha to talk to him. The omnipresent one asked, "Why did you come so late?" And he explained to all a story of what had happened before. The Buddha said, "This girl for a long time has lived with such virtuousness. You not only examined this girl in this life, but in the past also." The father requested the Buddha to tell to him the story of the past and the Buddha did so:
Long ago in the past when King Brahmadatta was ruling in Benares, the Enlightenment Being was born in a forest as a forest deity.


There was a certain man called Greengrocer [Pannika]. The story was the same as today. When he touched the hand of the girl, she said while crying and weeping, "When I was suffering with physical and mental pain you, lord father, were my refuge. At this moment, such a noble father is planning to hurt me in such an unnatural, unwholesome way in the middle of this forest. To whom am I to take refuge by crying when alone in the middle of this forest? The father who was my refuge is now going to do a rough and unusual crime. Because of this saying whose name, to whom can I cry now?" And she cried loudly, calling to the tree deities.
Then that girl's father, consoling her, said, "My little mother. Do not be afraid. You are perfectly fulfilling your purity as a virgin."
Upon hearing this, she said, "Yes, my father. I have indeed fulfilled your desire for me to be a virgin." And the father returned home and arranged a wedding ceremony. He gave her to a very good young man.
Disclosing this incident, the fully enlightened one, the master explained the four noble truths and thus finished the story of Greengrocer [Pannika]. At the end of the
explanation of the four noble truths the father attained the stream entrance state of mind.
The Buddha said, "The daughter at that time was the same as the daughter today. This was seen by me as a tree deity."
The moral: "Once a virtuous person, always a virtuous person."


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