by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 940,961 words
This page describes “story of the crown prince who was poisoned by fruit” 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.
In a kingdom ruled by king Yue fen (Candrabhāga), there was a crown prince (kumāra) who loved exquisite tastes; each day the king’s gardener sent him fine fruits. There was a big tree in the garden at the top of which a bird was raising her chicks. This bird always flew full speed to the Perfumed Mountain (Gandhmādana), took a fruit of delicious flavor and [returned] to give it to her chicks who, in arguing over it, let one of the fruits fall to the ground. Next morning the gardener noticed it and, finding it strange, brought it to the king. The king admired the perfume and the extraordinary color of the fruit; the crown prince saw it and asked for it; the king, who loved his son, gave it to him as a gift. The prince ate it and appreciated its flavor so much that he wanted to have one every day. The king called the gardener and asked where the fruit came from.
The gardener said:
“This fruit was not planted; I found it on the ground; I don’t know where it came from.”
The prince groaned, wept and refused to eat. The king reprimanded the gardener and commanded him to find another one. The gardener went to the place where he had found the fruit, noticed the bird’s nest and saw the mother arriving with a fruit [of the kind in question] in her beak. He hid in the top of the tree with the idea of taking away the fruit and, when the mother appeared, he took the fruit from her and brought it [to the king]. He did this every day. The mother bird, angry with the gardener, gathered on the Perfumed Mountain a poisonous fruit the perfume, taste and color of which were completely similar to the previous fruit. The gardener carried away this new fruit and offered it to the king; the king gave it to the crown prince but hardly had he finished eating it [182b] than the flesh of his body rotted and he died.
Notes for this story:
Compare the Kimpakajātaka, Pāli Jātaka no. 85, I, p. 367: Certain members of a caravan, despite the warnings of the bodhisattva, ate fruit from the kiṃpaka tree which they mistook for mangoes; they were poisoned and died, victims of their own gluttony.