Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 940,961 words

This page describes “story of the fisherman lover of the king’s daughter” as written by Nagarjuna in his Maha-prajnaparamita-sastra (lit. “the treatise on the great virtue of wisdom”) in the 2nd century. This book, written in five volumes, represents an encyclopedia on Buddhism as well as a commentary on the Pancavimsatisahasrika Prajnaparamita.

Story of the fisherman lover of the king’s daughter

Note: This little story has been translated by Chavannes, Contes, III, p. 294–296. His translation is reproduced here.

[166b] The king of a kingdom had a daughter named Kin meou t’eou (Kumuda). A fisherman, named Chou p’o k’ie, walking on the road, noticed the king’s daughter from afar in a high tower; he saw her face in the casement of a window. His mind was completely taken with this image and his heart could not be detached from it for a single moment. This attachment grew from day to day and from month to month; he could no longer eat or drink.

To his mother who asked him what was the matter, he answered by revealing his feelings:

“Since seeing the king’s daughter, I cannot forget her.”

His mother scolded him, saying:

“You are a humble man, and the king’s daughter is of very high rank; you cannot have her.”

Her son replied:

“I would like to be able to distract myself, but I cannot forget the princess for a single moment; if my wishes cannot be realized, it is impossible for me to live.”

In order to act in her son’s favor, the mother went to the palace; she constantly brought large fish and excellent meat without asking for any payment. The king’s daughter was astonished and asked her what she wanted.

The mother begged her to send away her attendants and said that she would reveal her sentiments; [after this] she said:

“I have an only son who loves you deeply, O princess; his passion is so strong that he has fallen sick; his fate seems to be not to live long. I would like it if you would grant him a compassionate thought and give him back his life.”

The king’s daughter replied:

“On the fifteenth day of the month, let him stand behind the statue of the god in the sanctuary of such-and-such a deity.”

The mother returned and announced to her son: “Your wishes are realized.”

Then she advised him, in accordance with what has been said above, to bathe, clothe himself in new garments and stand behind the statue of the god.

When the time had come, the princess said to the king, her father:

“I am under an evil influence. I must go to the sanctuary of the god to ask for an auspicious fortune.”

The king agreed and she went with a suite of five hundred chariots to the temple of the god.

When she arrived there, she gave this command to her followers:

“Stay by the gate; I will go into the sanctuary alone.”

However, the god had this thought:

“This affair is not suitable; the king is my benefactor (dānapti); I cannot allow this lowly man to dishonor his daughter.”

At once he overwhelmed the young man with fatigue and made him fall sleep without being able to wake up. When the king’s daughter had entered and saw him sleeping, she shook him several times without succeeding in bringing him back to his senses; then she left him a necklace worth a hundred thousand ounces of gold and went away. When she had gone, the young man was able to wake up and saw the necklace; he asked the people who were there and learned that the princess had come; not having been able to get the satisfaction of his desires, he fell into deep grief; the fire of his passion burst forth within him and he died.

From this example, we can know that women’s hearts make no distinction between nobles and serfs and that they let themselves be guided only by their sensual desires.