Chinna Katha


After Buddha gave up worldly ways, he traveled far and wide. People were wonder-struck at his brilliant, handsome form. Enamored by his effulgence, a woman named Ambashali approached him and said, "O great one, you look like a prince in ochre robes. May I know why you don ochre robes at this young age?" Buddha replied that he took to the path of renunciation in order to seek solutions to three problems. "This body which is young and handsome is bound to become old with time - will be made sick and perish ultimately. I want to know the cause for old age, sickness and death."

Impressed by his quest of truth she invited him for lunch. In no time the entire village came to know of this. The villagers started coming to Buddha one by one, and requested him not to accept her invitation, as she was a woman of bad character. Buddha listened to all their complaints patiently. Buddha smiled and asked the village head, "Do you also affirm that she is a woman of bad character?" The village head replied, "Not once, but thousand times I will vouch for the evil character of Ambashali. Please do not visit her house."

Holding the village head's right hand, Buddha asked him to clap. The village head said that he could not do so as one of his hands was in Buddha's hold and it was not possible for anyone to clap with a single hand. Buddha replied, "Likewise, Ambashali cannot be bad by herself unless there are men of bad character in this village. If all the men in this village were good, this woman would not have turned bad. Therefore, men and their money are responsible for the bad character of Ambashali."

Saying so he wanted to know if there was any individual in that gathering without any trace of bad in him so that he could visit his house for lunch. No one came forward. Then Buddha said, "When there are so many bad men in the village, it is not proper to point a finger at one woman. She turned bad due to bad company." That is why it is said, 'Tell me your company, I shall tell you what you are.' Realising their folly, the people fell at Buddha's feet and sought forgiveness. Since then they started treating Ambashali as one amongst them. Inspired by the teachings of Buddha, Ambashali also took to the path of renunciation and led a pious life. No one else is responsible for the good and bad in an individual. Each one is responsible for his own good and bad. Who is good, who is bad? First eliminate the bad in you.