The Story of the Son of Mahadhana

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While residing at the Migadaya wood, the Buddha uttered Verses (155) and (156) of this book, with reference to the son of Mahadhana, a rich man from Baranasi.

The son of Mahadhana did not study while he was young; when he came of age he married the daughter of a rich man, who, like him, also had no education. When the parents on both sides died, they inherited eighty crores from each side and so were very rich. But both of them were ignorant and knew only how to spend money and not how to keep it or to make it grow. They just ate and drank and had a good time, squandering their money. When they had spent all, they sold their fields and gardens and finally their house. Thus, they became very poor and helpless; and because they did not know how to earn a living they had to go begging. One day, the Buddha saw the rich man's son leaning against a wall of the monastery, taking the leftovers given him by the samaneras; seeing him, the Buddha smiled.

The Venerable Ananda asked the Buddha why he smiled, and the Buddha replied, "Ananda, look at this son of a very rich man; he had lived a useless life, an aimless life of pleasure. If he had learnt to look after his riches in the first stage of his life he would have been a top-ranking rich man; or if he had become a bhikkhu, he could have been an arahat, and his wife could have been an anagami. If he had learnt to look after his riches in the second stage of his life he would have been a second rank rich man, or if he had become a bhikkhu he could have been an anagami, and his wife could have been a sakadagami. If he had learnt to look after his riches in the third stage of his life he would have been a third rank rich man, or if he had become a bhikkhu he could have been a sakadagami, and his wife could have been a sotapanna. However, because he had done nothing in all the three stages of his life he had lost all his worldly riches, he had also lost all opportunities of attaining any of the Maggas and Phalas."

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 155: They, who in youth have neither led the life of Purity nor have acquired wealth, waste away in dejection like decrepit herons on a drying pond deplete of fish.

Verse 156: They, who in youth have neither led the Life of Purity nor have acquired wealth, lie helplessly like arrows that have lost momentum, moaning and sighing after the past.
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