No Watermelon for Ananda

         Ananda and Mahakasyapa were two of the Buddha’s great disciples. One day, they went on a long journey with the Buddha. They walked all morning. By noon, they were tired and thirsty. As they sat under a tree for a rest, the Buddha saw a house nearby with a big garden. There were many watermelons growing in the garden.

         “Ananda, we are all very thirsty. Go to that house and beg the owner for a watermelon to quench our thirst,” said the Buddha to Ananda.

         Ananda followed. When he arrived at the house, he saw a young woman working in the garden. He walked up to her and asked politely, “Good afternoon. My teacher is the Buddha. We have been walking the whole morning and we are very thirsty. Would you give me a watermelon to offer to the Buddha?”

         As soon as Ananda had finished speaking, the young woman shouted angrily, “You leave my garden at once. I have nothing for you.”

         Ananda walked back to the Buddha and told him what happened. The Buddha simply smiled and turned to Mahakasyapa, “Now it is your turn to go and ask for a watermelon.”

      
  Mahakasyapa doubted that the woman would change her mind about giving them a watermelon, but he did not doubt his teacher’s words. There must be a reason behind everything the Buddha said.

         Mahakasyapa walked slowly over to the house. As soon as the young woman saw him coming, her face lit up with a smile. She walked over to him and made three prostrations, and then invited him to come into the garden. She picked the biggest and juiciest watermelon from the vines and offered it to him.

         “Honorable Mo
nk, this is the best watermelon from my garden. Please accept this offering,” said the young woman.

When Mahakasyapa returned with a big watermelon in his arms, Ananda looked surprised. The Buddha turned to both of them and said, “Let me tell you a story:

Many eons ago, there were two monks who were good friends. One day, they went on a trip together. It was a hot and sunny day. They were tired and thirsty from walking the whole morning. Suddenly, they saw a dead cat on the side of the road. Under the hot sun, the dead body gave off a bad smell. When the younger monk saw this, he scrunched up his nose in disgust and quickly ran off. But the older monk walked up to the dead cat and gave it his blessing: ‘May you take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. May you be reborn in a better place. May you attain enlightenment.’ He then found a patch of good soil on the roadside and dug a hole there to bury the dead cat.

That dead cat was eventually reborn as a human. She was the young woman you met in the watermelon garden. The younger monk was one of Ananda’s previous lives and the older monk was one of Mahakasyapa’s previous lives. Because Mahakasyapa showed kindness towards the dead cat and sincerely dedicated good wishes to the cat, the young woman naturally felt joyful when she saw him today, and wanted to offer him the best watermelon without his asking. However, because Ananda showed disgust towards the dead cat, the young woman felt angry as soon as she saw him, and she refused his request for a watermelon.”

After they heard the story, the two disciples learned a great lesson. We should always be kind and respectful to all beings. We should always do things to give happiness and to take away pain and sadness for others. The kindness and blessings we give to others will always return to us.