Panchayudha Jataka – Five Kinds of Weapons
How do you deal with a life-threatening situation? The best-armed man, when he confronts a stronger enemy, is likely to cringe. Can weaponry alone help him? What is true courage made up of?
The Bodhisattva was once born as a son to King Brahmadatta. At his naming ceremony, the king’s priests prophesied that the prince would become a good and noble ruler, famous for his five weapons.
At sixteen, Prince Panchayudha (Five Weapons) left home for Taxila to further his education. On completing his studies, his teacher presented him with four weapons – bow and arrows, a sword, a sharp, pointed wheel and a club. While returning home, the prince was accosted by a fearsome, sticky-feathered ogre who assumed a variety of horrific shapes to threaten the prince.
Panchayudha battled him with the four weapons and his own limbs and head. Alas, to no avail; all of them got stuck to the ogre’s feathers.
But the ogre could not kill him, transfixed as he was by the prince’s expression of calmness.
“Aren’t you afraid of dying?” he grunted.
“Not at all. I have one weapon left – a thunderbolt in my body. Eat me and you too will be destroyed.”
Hmmm, thought the ogre…. should he take a chance? But this man seemed to be speaking the truth. He set the prince free!
The fifth weapon that the prince alluded to was his wisdom! He then preached to the ogre, convincing him to abandon his murderous ways, which would only lead to more darkness and misery in his forthcoming births. The ogre thereupon agreed to become the guardian of the forest and its nearby villages.
The ogre in this tale is a metaphor for ignorance and stupidity. In crisis-like situations, preached the Buddha, cool detachment and mindfulness will save us when all other options are exhausted.