Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to insight into the true nature of reality. Siddhartha Gautama was the founder and preacher of this great religion. He contributed a lot to the society by spreading many valuable teachings. His teachings have been preserved in the form of many Buddhist scriptures.
In one of the Agama Sutras, the Buddha’s early sermon a very interesting and influential story has been mentioned. Here Buddha has said that ” A MAN SHOULD HAVE FOUR WIVES”. He has also justified the reason behind it. I am sure you will be deeply moved by this story.
There was a man who had four wives. He was very ill and almost in his last stage of his life. Lying in his sick bed he was feeling very lonely and was wondering about life after death. He got afraid by the thought of his lonely wondering soul and hence wanted one of his wife to accompany him after his death.
He called his first wife and said, ‘I loved you day and night, took care of you all my life. Now I am going to die and want you to accompany me wherever I go after my death’.
He had expected a Yes from her, but to his surprise she answered, ‘I know you have always loved me but now its time for you to leave this world and separate from me. Goodbye, my dear.’
Being sad he called his second wife. He said, ‘I have loved you all my life, Sometimes I was afraid you would leave me but I did everything to keep you happy. Now its time for me to leave and hence I want you to accompany me.’
The second wife was amazed by his question and replied, ‘I know you have loved me but it was all because of your selfish needs. You have never done anything for me without your own requirements being fulfilled, and you expect me to come with you? I am sorry, I can’t.’
This made the man even sadder. He then called his third wife and asked her to accompany him after his death. She seemed very sad and concerned for her husband. Laying a sympathetic hand on his head and with tears in her eyes she replied, ‘My dear husband I have always loved you as much as you have, I will not restraint from my duty for you and hence accompany you till the graveyard but that will be the end of my duty.’
Now the man was totally broken and felt very sad. He then called his fourth and the last wife. He said, ‘I know I have never loved you as much as I have loved the other three. I have treated you like a slave and have also never cared for you. But now I am helpless and just can’t take the loneliness after death. Can you please accompany me after my death?’
The fourth wife gladly accepted his proposal and got ready to accompany him.
Now Gautama Buddha has tried to explain us what these four wives signify….
The First Wife
The first wife is our BODY. We take care of our body since birth till death and do everything to keep it healthy. But, unfortunately when we die we have to leave our body behind. When we die our body is sent into an open field and cremated, leaving only the white ashes. This is the destination of our body.
The Second Wife
The second wife stands for our FORTUNE, which includes all our material things, fame, position, society reputation acquired in life. This is the reason the wife had told ‘you have loved me but it was all because of your selfish needs’. We cannot take all these possessions along with us after death. They have to be left back. As many sacred scriptures say, ‘We come to this world empty handed and leave this earth empty handed as well’.
The Third Wife
The third wife here signifies our FAMILY AND OUR RELATIVES. They really do love us but can only feel sad at our demise. Nature has nothing created to make them accompany us after death. Hence, they can at maximum come to the graveyard to bid us the last goodbye.
The Fourth Wife
The fourth wife here signifies the KARMA. The things we do in this life may it be good or bad is what is earned by us forever. These are the deeds we take along with us even after our death. We have to pay for the bad deeds performed and will also be rewarded for our good deeds, may it be in the life after death or our next life.
What did we learn from this story? To live a happy life a man needs to have all these four wives but should understand the importance of every wife. A life without body, fortune and family is not possible but that doesn’t mean we will exploit our Karma. It is very necessary to think before you act because it will get back to you sometime, may it be when you are living or when you are dead!
Know about Significance of Buddha Purnima – The Birth day of Gautam Buddha.
Also read about 4 Hindu Varnas and 16 Hindu Rituals.