Nakkhatta Jataka

Once on a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, some townsfolk had asked a country-girl in marriage and had named the day. Having already made the arrangement, they asked their family ascetic whether the stars were propitious for the ceremony on that day. Piqued at their having fixed the day to suit themselves without first taking counsel with him, the ascetic made up his mind to thwart their marriage festivities for that day; [258] and accordingly he made answer that the stars were not favourable for that day, and that if they persisted, grave misfortune would be the result. So, in their faith in the ascetic, they stayed at home! When the country folk found that the town party did not come, they said among themselves, “It was they who fixed the marriage for to-day, and now they have not come. Who are they, forsooth?” And they married the girl to someone else.

            Next day the townsfolk came and asked for the girl; but they of the country made this answer:-“You town-people lack common decency. You yourselves named the day and yet did not come to fetch the bride. As you stopped away, we married her to someone else.” “But we asked our ascetic, and he told us the stars were unfavourable. That’s why we did not come yesterday. Give us the girl.” “You didn’t come at the proper time, and now she’s another’s. How can we marry her twice over?” Whilst they wrangled thus with one another, a wise man from the town came into the country on business. Hearing the townsfolk explain that they had consulted their ascetic and that their absence was due to the unfavourable disposition of the stars, he exclaimed, “What, forsooth, do the stars matter? Is not the lucky thing to get the girl?” And, so saying he repeated this stanza:-

                        The fool may watch for ‘lucky days,’

                        Yet luck shall always miss;

                        “Tis luck itself is luck’s own star.

                        What can mere stars achieve?

            As for the townsfolk, as they did not get the girl for all their wrangling they had to go off home again!

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