Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

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

This page describes “story of king murdhaja (mandhatar)” 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.

Appendix 2 - The story of king Mūrdhaja (Māndhātar)

Note: this appendix is extracted from Chapter XXVI, part 1:

“King Mūrdhaja reigned over the four continents (cāturdvīpaka); the heavens rained down on him the seven jewels (saptaratna) and the things he needed; Śakra devānām indra shared his seat with him and made him sit beside him; nevertheless, despite all his wealth, he was unable to obtain the Path”.

Māndhātar, surnamed Mūrdhaja because he was born from a bump on his father’s head, reigned in the western kingdom and successively conquered those of the south, the east and the north. He possessed the seven jewels of a cakravartin king and, when he closed his left hand and touched it with his right hand, the sky rained down a shower of the seven kinds of jewels, which accumulated up to the height of his knees. He went to visit the world of the gods and reigned first over the heaven of the Caturmahārājikas. From there, he went to the heaven of the Trāyastriṃśa gods: Śakra took him by the hand and made him sit beside him. Māndhatar then sought to take over Śakra’s throne, but he was sent back at once to earth where he died of sickness.

Māndhātar is often mentioned in Indian texts, Buddhist as well as brahmanical. The major sources are:

Pāli: Jātaka (no. 258), II, p. 311–34; Sumaṅgala, II, p. 481–482;Papañca, I, I, p. 225–226; Dhammapadaṭṭha, III, p. 240.

Sanskrit: Buddhacarita, I, 10; X, 31; XI, 13; Mahāvastu, I, p. 348; Divyāvadāna, p. 210–226; Avadānakalpalatā (no. 4), I, p. 122–153; Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa, references in Hopkins, Epic Mythology, p. 139.

Tibetan: Dulwa, in Schiefner-Ralston, Tibetan Tales, p. 1–20.

Chinese: Tchong a han, T 26 (no. 60), k. 11, p. 494b–496a; Ting cheng wang kou king, T 39, p. 822b–824a; Wen t’o kie wang king, T 40, p. 824a–825a; Lieou tou tsi king, T 152 (no. 40), k. 4, p. 21c–22b (tr. Chavannes, Contes, I, p. 137–142); Ting cheng wang yin yuan king, T 165, p. 393 seq.; Hien yu king, T 202 (no. 64), k. 13, p. 439b–440c (tr. Chavannes, Contes, IV, p. 107–108; cf. Schmidt, Der Weise und der Thor, p. 369–377); Tch’ou yao king, T 212, k. 4, P. 631c seq.; Ken pen chouo… yao tche, T 1448, k. 11, p. 51c; k. 12, p. 56b; Ken chouo… p’o senf che, T 1450, k. 1, p. 100c; Tsang so che louen, T 1645, k. 1, p. 231a; Tch’eng che louen, T 1646, k. 5, p. 277c.

Iconography: Sivaramamurti, Amarāvatī, p. 222–224, pl. 33 (1); Longhurst, Nāgārjunakoṇḍa, p. 47–48, pl. 43; Foucher, Buddh. Art, p. 225–230 (south-west corner of Borobudur).