`Khanti' literally means patience, endurance or forbearance. It is the endurance of suffering caused by others, or the forbearance of other's wrong.

If anyone scold, insults or even assaults the Bodhisatta, he will not become angry. He will not allow a thought of revenge or retaliation to enter into his mind. By his virtue, he tries to put the wrong doer on the path of Righteousness and extends to him thoughts of love and compassion.

Whenever a Bodhisatta is harmed by someone, he exercises his `Khanti' to such an extent by putting the blame on himself and thinks that, "This provocation is the outcome of my own action in previous birth. Therefore, it is not proper to cherish ill will towards him who is also a fellow-being.

Secondly, the offender may be my brother or sister in former birth. "Thus the Buddha advised us how to practise `Khanti' in the following stanzas:

"He abused me, beat me, overcame me, robbed me - in those who harbour such thoughts, hatred does not cease."

He abused me, beat me, overcame me, robbed me - in those who do not harbour such thoughts, hatred does cease."

"In this world hatred is never appeased by hatred. Hatred is appeased by love alone. This is the ancient law."

To practise `Khanti', one should be able to control one's temper through the right understanding of the real nature of life. In this world, some people habitually let lose their temper easily even over a trifle matter. They are under the misconception that losing temper is a mark of authority for the subjugation of others.

But one should not forget that losing temper means not only losing of one's peace, happiness, health, beauty, friendship and popularity, but also the losing of right understanding which enables one to distinguish the good from the bad and the right from the wrong.

Therefore, our Bodhisatta practised `Khanti' to such an extent as not to get angry even when his hands and feet were severed.


Illustration from KHANTIVADI JATAKA.

Once upon a time the Bodhisatta, leading the life of an ascetic, was meditating at the foot of a tree in the king's royal park. He was living there at the invitation of the king's general.

One day the king went to the park with the ladies of the court. In a drunken state, he slept keeping his head on the lap of a favourite lady. As he was asleep the other went up to the ascetic to listen to his teaching.

On waking up he found the ladies missing. Hearing that they had gone to the ascetic to hear him preaching, the king became annoyed. Burning with anger he went up to the innocent ascetic and questioned him in a harsh tone: "What do you preach, you ascetic?"

`I preach patience your Majesty," replied the ascetic calmly.

"What is patience?"

"Patience is not getting angry when you are abused or beaten.

"Well, I will then test your patience," said the king and summoning the executioner, ordered him to throw the ascetic on the ground and beat him with a thorny whip. The innocent ascetic was whipped mercilessly. The ascetic's skin burst. The whole body was smeared with blood. But the ascetic true to his teaching endured the pain patiently.

"Do you still practise patience, ascetic?"

"Yes, still I do, your Majesty!"

The king then orderd his hands and feet to be cut off and questioned him again. The same calm reply issued from his lips.

Full of wrath the king ordered his nose and ears to be cut off. Mercilessly the executioner chopped off his nose and ears. With mutilated limbs, the good ascetic lay on a pool of blood, the king asked him again:

"Do you still practise patience, ascetic?"

"Your Majesty, please do not think that my patience lies in my skin, or in my hands and feet, or in my nose and ears. My patience lies within my heart. With your superior strength you can over-power my weak body. But, your Majesty, my mind can never be changed," calmly replied the ascetic.

He harboured no ill-will towards the king. Nor did he look at him with any anger. The king's anger knew no bounds. Deeply enraged he raised his foot and stamped the chest of the ascetic with his heel. Immediately blood gushed out of his mouth. The General who had invited him heard of his pitiful state, and at once he hurried to his presence.

Quickly he applied some ointment and begged him not to curse the kingdom.
The merciful ascetic, instead of cursing the king blessed him, saying:

"He who caused my hands and feet, nose and ears, to be cut off, may that king live long! Men like us never get angry."

After His Enlightenment the Buddha said:
"Though hacked by a sharp axe as if I was inanimate, I did not get angry with King Kasi. This is my Perfection of Patience."