Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 941,039 words

This page describes “story of yashodhara” 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.

The story of Yaśodharā

1. Yaśodharā’s lengthy pregnancy:

(see notes on Yaśodharā’s pregnancy)

– Moreover, in the Lo heou lo mou pen cheng king (Rāhulamātṛjātaka):

The Bodhisattva Śākyamuni had two wives: the first was called K’iu p’i ye (Gopiya or Gopā), the second Ye chou t’o lo (Yaśodharā) or Ye chou t’o lo heou lo mou (Yaśodharā Rāhulamātā). Gopā, being sterile (bandhya), had no children. Yaśodharā knew she was pregnant (garbhiṇī) the same night that the Bodhisattva left home (pravrajita). After his departure, the Bodhisattva practiced asceticism (duṣkaracaryā) for six years; Yaśodharā was pregnant also for six years without giving birth. The Śākyas asked her: “The Bodhisattva has left home; whose fruit are you bearing?” Yaśodharā said: “I have not committed adultery; the son that I bear in my womb is truly the descendant of the crown prince (Śākyamuni).” The Śākyas continued: “Why are you so long in giving birth?” She answered that she did not know [the reason]. In public discussion, the Śākyas asked the king [Śuddhodana]to inflict a suitable punishment on her. Gopā said to the king: “I would like you to absolve Yaśodharā; I have always stayed with her, I am her witness (sākṣin) and I know that she has not committed any sin. Wait until her son is born and you will see whether or not he resembles his father; it will not be too late to punish her.” Then the king treated Yaśodharā with indulgence.

[In the meanwhile], the Buddha had completed his six years of austerities; the very night that he became Buddha, Yaśodharā gave birth to Rāhula. Seeing that he resembled his father, the king was overjoyed and forgot his anger; he said to his ministers: “Although my son has gone, today he has a son completely like him.” Although Yaśodharā had avoided the shame of punishment, her bad reputation had spread in the kingdom; she sought to wash way this bad name. When Śākyamuni, having attained Buddhahood, returned to Kia p’i lo p’o (Kapilavastu) to convert the Śākyas, king Śuddhodana and Yaśodharā invited him at once to come to dine at the palace. Then Yaśodharā took a potion-cake (modaka) of a hundred flavors and gave it to Rāhula to offer to the Buddha. [182c] At the same time, by his miraculous power (ṛddhibala), the Buddha created five hundred arhats who completely resembled. Rāhula, then seven years old, took the potion-cake, went directly to the Buddha and respectfully offered it to the Bhagavat [thus proving that he discovered his father among the five hundred arhats completely like the Buddha]. Then the Buddha suspended his miraculous power and the five hundred [bhikṣus] resumed their initial aspect: they were seated with empty bowls (dhautapātreṇa), whereas the bowl of the Buddha was the only one that contained a potion-cake. Yaśodharā said to the king: “This proves that I have committed no sin.” Yaśodharā then asked the Buddha why she had been pregnant for six years.

2. Jātaka explaining this prolonged pregnancy.

(see notes on the prolonged pregnancy)

– The Buddha said to her:

In a previous lifetime, your son, Rāhula, was the king of a country. At that time, a ṛṣi possessing the five superknowledges (abhijñā) entered his kingdom and said to the king: “The king has the duty of punishing thieves; I want him to punish me.” The king asked: “What fault have you committed?” The ṛṣi replied: “I have entered your kingdom and have stolen (adattādāna): I drank water belonging to you unceremoniously and I took a willow twig belonging to you.” The king said: “But I would have given them to you; what crime have you committed? When I came to the throne, I gave this water and these willow branches to be used by everyone.” The ṛṣi answered: “Although the king made this gift, I fear that my crime has not been suppressed thereby; I would like to undergo the punishment today in order not to have to suffer it later.” The king answered: “If you absolutely insist, stay here a little and wait for me until I come back.” The king went back to his palace and stayed there for six days without coming out; the ṛṣi stayed in the king’s garden and he was hungry and thirsty for six days, while saying to himself that the king did well to punish him thus. At the end of six days, the king came out of his palace and apologized to the ṛṣi: “I forgot about you; please do not hold a grudge against me.” For this reason, the king suffered the punishment of the three evil destinies (durgati) for five hundred lifetimes and, for five hundred [other] lifetimes, he remained in his mother’s womb for six years. This is how it was proved that Yaśodharā had not committed any crime.

3. Yaśodharā tries to win back the Buddha:

(see notes on Yaśodharā’s persuasion)

– When the Bhagavat had finished eating, he left [the palace], and Yaśodharā was annoyed with him:

“Such a handsome man is rare (adbhuta) in this world. I was able to meet him, but now I have lost him forever. When the Bhagavat was seated, he looked fixedly without moving his eyes; when the Bhagavat left, I followed him with my eyes, but he has gone and that is all.” Yaśodharā was very annoyed: each time the thought of him came to her, she sank to the ground, her breathing stopped, her companions sprinkled her with water and she began breathing again. Always alone, she wondered: “Who is skillful enough here in mantra to change his feelings and make him regain his original feelings so that we could be happy (together) as before?” Then she filled a golden bowl with the seven jewels (saptaratna) and precious jewels (maṇi), and offered it to anyone [who could advise her]. A brahmacārin accepted it and said: “I can place a spell [on the Buddha] so that his feelings change. It is necessary to make a little cake of a hundred flavors (saptarasanamaya modaka), mix in medicinal herbs (oṣadhi) [183a] and ‘bind’ it with a spell (mantra); his mind will change and he will certainly come back.” Yaśodharā followed the instructions of the brahmacārin, then sent someone to invite the Buddha: she wanted to reduce him completely under her power in front of the assembly (of monks). The Buddha entered the king’s palace, Yaśodharā offered him the cake of a hundred flavors which she put in his bowl (pātra) and the Buddha ate it. Yaśodharā hoped that, according to her desire, they would be happy as before; but the food taken by the Buddha had no effect; his mind and his eyes remained serene and calm. Yaśodharā said: “For the time, he doesn’t move; perhaps the strength of the herbs has not yet worked. But when their power will manifest, he will surely be as I wish.” The Buddha, his meal finished, chanted, got up from his seat and departed. Yaśodharā still hoped that the power of the herbs would act in the afternoon and that the Buddha would certainly come back to the palace [to find her]. However, the Buddha’s meal was like all the others; his body and mind wre not changed. The next day at meal-time, the monks put on their robes, took their bowls and entered the city to beg their food. Hearing this story told, their respect [for the Buddha] increased; they said: “The Buddha’s power is immense; his mind miraculous (ṛddhicitta) is difficult to sound (durvighāhya) and inconceivable (acintya). The cake prepared by Yaśodharā had very great power; nevertheless, the Buddha ate it without his body and mind being modified.” Their meal over, the monks left the city and went to consult the Bhagavat about this affair. The Buddha said to the bhikṣus: “It is not only during the present lifetime that this Yaśodharā has tried to seduce me with a cake (modaka); in previous lifetimes, she had tempted me with a cake.” Then the Bhagavat told the bhikṣus the Jātakanidāna that follows:

4. Isisiṅgajātaka:

(see notes on the Isisiṅga-jātaka)

– In times gone by, there was a recluse (ṛṣi) in the mountains in the kingdom of P’o lo ni (Vārāṇasī); in the second month of autumn, he was urinating into his wash-basin when he saw some bucks and does mating; he became lustful and his semen dripped into the basin; a doe drank it and immediately became pregnant; at the end of her time, she bore a child that looked quite human but had a horn on his head and his feet were like those of a deer. When the doe was about to give birth, she went to the hermit’s dwelling and bore him there; seeing that her baby was human, she entrusted him to the hermit and went away. When the hermit came out, he saw the doe’s baby; he thought about the early causes for it and understood that this was his own son, and so he gathered him up in his arms and raised him. Then, when the child grew up, he set himself to teach him.

[The young man] understood the great holy books of the eighteen types; he practiced meditation (dhyāna); he practiced the four superknowledges (abhijñā). One day when he was climbing the mountain, there was a heavy rain; the muddy slippery ground was not suitable for his feet and he fell, breaking his container (read tchōng, 167 and 9) and his foot; very annoyed, with his container full of water, he uttered a magical spell for it to stop raining; by the effects of the hermit’s merits, the nāgas stopped the rain. As there was no further rain, the five grain crops and the five fruits were no longer produced; the people were at the end of their resources and had no further means of livelihood.

The king of Vārāṇasī was angry and worried; he commanded his [183b] ministers to meet and discuss the matter of the rain. In the discussion, a wise man said: “I have heard that, on the hermits’ mountain, there is a recluse called Unicorn (Ekaśṛṅga): because of his clumsy feet, he fell while climbing the mountain and hurt his foot; in his anger, he uttered a magical spell commanding it to stop raining for twelve years.” The king thought and said: “If it is not going to rain for twelve years, my kingdom and the people are lost.” Then the king published an appeal [to his people, saying]: “I will give half of my kingdom to anyone who can make this hermit lose his five superknowledges (abhijñā) and become an ordinary subject of mine.”

There was, at that time in the kingdom of Vārāṇasī, a courtesan named Chan t’o (Śāntā) of unequalled beauty; she came in answer to the king’s appeal. She asked people whether or not [Ekaśṛṇga] was a man; they answered that he was the son of a hermit. The courtesan said: “If he is a man, I can get rid of him.” Having spoken thus, she took a golden dish which she filled with fine precious objects and said to the king: “I will sit astride this hermit’s back.” Then the courtesan got five hundred chariots in which she placed five hundred lovely women, and five hundred chariots drawn by deer in which she placed all kinds of magical cakes made with medicinal herbs; she painted them in different colors so that they looked like various fruits; she also brought all kinds of strong liquor which, in color and taste, were like water. [She and her companions] dressed in garments of tree bark and grass and wandered through the trees in the forest like hermits. They made themselves leafy huts (parṇaśāla) near the hermit’s dwelling and stayed there.

The recluse Ekaśṛṅga, having gone for a walk, saw them; all the women came out to meet him and offered him lovely flowers and perfumes; the latter was happy with them; with sweet words and respectful expressions the women asked about the health of the hermit; they took him into a room, seated him on a fine soft bed, gave him some of the clear liquor which they called pure water and some of the cakes which they said were fruit. When the hermit had eaten and drink as much as he wanted, he said to the women: “Since I was born, I have never found fruit so good and water so excellent as this.” The women said to him: “We do good with all our heart; this is why heaven grants us our wishes and we find these fruits and water.” The hermit said to the women: “Why is the color of your skin so gleaming and so fresh?” They answered: “It is because we always eat these good fruits and drink this excellent water.” The women said to the hermit: “Why not settle down and live here?” He answered: “Indeed, I could live here.” The women invited him to bathe with them and he accepted that also. The women’s hands touched him gently and his mind was moved thereby. Then he bathed in the company of these lovely women and, as lust had developed in him, he committed lustful actions with them. He immediately lost his superknowledges (abhijñā) and the heavens let fall a great rain for seven days and seven nights. [The courtesan] allowed him to give himself up to pleasure, to eat and drink, for seven days.

At the end of this time, the liquor and the provisions were entirely used up, and they substituted mountain water and the fruit of the trees for them; but the taste was not at all pleasant and [the recluse] demanded the food that he had [183c] been given previously. [The courtesan] answered: “There is no more; now we will go and gather some; not far from here there is a place where we can find some.” – “As you wish”, said the hermit. Then they went together. Knowing that the city was not far away, the courtesan lay down on the road, saying: “I am at the end of my strength and I cannot walk any further.” The hermit said to her: “If you cannot walk, get up on my back, I will carry you.”

Previously the woman had sent a letter to alert the king, saying: “O king, you will see what my wisdom can do.” The king ordered his chariot, went out and saw the sight. He asked [the courtesan]: “How did you manage to do it?” She said: “I achieved this result by means of the power of my skillful means (upāya); there is nothing that I cannot do.” The king commanded that the hermit remain in the city; he made him abundant offerings and treated him respectfully; he satisfied his five wishes and named him prime minister.

When the hermit had lived in the city for some days, his body became emaciated; he thought of the joys of meditation (dhyānasukha) and was weary of worldly desires. The king asked him why he was unhappy and why he was becoming thin. The hermit replied: “Although I enjoy the five objects of desire, I am always thinking of my forest retreat and the place frequented by the hermits; I cannot detach my mind from that.” The king said to himself: “I am doing violence to this man; this violence makes him unhappy; his suffering is extreme and he will die. My original purpose was to put an end to the calamity of drought and now I have attained it. Why should I still do violence to him?” Then he sent him away. [The recluse] returned to his mountain and thanks to his exertion, he soon recovered his five superknowledges (abhijñā).

The Buddha said to the bhikṣus: “The hermit Ekaśṛṅga was myself; the courtesan was Yaśodharā. At that time, she led me astray with a cake (modaka) and, as I had not cut the bonds, I was seduced by her. Again today she wanted to seduce me by means of the cake with medicinal herbs, but she did not succeed.”

For this reason, we know that slight attachments (sūkṣmamṛdusparśana) can trouble recluses and, all the more so, worldly people (pṛthagjāna). For these reasons, subtle desires are condemned.

Notes (1) on the story of Yaśodharā:

The wife of the Buddha, mother of Rāhula, is called called in the Pāli sources Rāhulamātā (Vin., I, p. 63), Bhaddakaccā[nā] (Buddhavaṃsa, XXVI, 15; Mahāvaṃsa, II, 24), Yasodharā (Buddhavaṃsa Comm., p. 245), Bimbādevi (Jātaka, II, p. 392; Sumaṅgala, II, p. 422) and Bimbāsundarī (Jātaka, VI, p. 478). She was born on the same day as the Buddha (Jātaka, I, p. 54) and married him at the age of sixteen (Jātaka, I, p. 58).

The different lives tell how the Buddha succeeded in winning the hand of his future wife in the course of a tournament where he showed his skill in the arts (śilpasaṃdarśana); in these sources, the Buddha’s wife is designated sometimes by the name of Yaśodharā (Fang kouang ta tchouang yen king, T 187, k. 4, p. 561c; Yin kouo king, T 189, k. 2, p. 629b; Fo pen hingtsi king, T 190, k. 13, p. 712c; Tchong hiu mo ho ti king, T 191, k. 4p. 942c; Buddhacarita, II, v. 26; Mahāvastu, II, p. 48 seq.), sometimes as Gopā or Gopī (Sieou hing pen k’i king, T 184, k. 1, p. 465b; T’ai tseu jouei ying pen k’i king, T 185, k. 1, p. 475a; P’ou yao king, T 186, k. 3, p. 500c; Yi tch’ou pen k’i king, T 188, p. 619a; Lalitavistara, p. 142 seq.). The marriage ceremony and the retinue are depicted on the Gandhāra monuments; cf. Foucher, Art Gréco-boudhhique, I, p. 334–337.

According to the present passage of the Mppś, Śākyamuni has two wives, Yaśodhara and Gopā.

– The Mulasarv. Vin. attributes three wives to him, Yaśodhara, Gopā and Mṛgajā, each surrounded by 20,000 courtesans (Ken pen chouo … p’i nai ye, T 1442, k. 18, p. 720c12–13; P’o seng che, T 1450, k. 3, p. 114b24–26).

The same Vinaya tells the circumstances in which Śākyamuni married them:

1) He himself chose Yaśodhara from all the young girls of his clan (T 1450, k. 3, p. 111c; Rockhill, Life, p. 20);

2) He stopped his chariot under Gopā’s terrace; seeing this, Śuddhodana took Gopā and gave her to his son (T 1450, k. 3, p. 112c; Rockhill, Life, p. 21–22);

3) Seven days before his Great Deaprture, when he went to the palace, Mṛgajā (Kisāgotami in the Pāli sources, Mṛgī in the Mahāvastu): (cf. Traité, I, p. 488 F as n.), spoke the famous stanza to him: Nibuttā nānasā mātā; thanking her, Śākyamuni threw her his necklace; seeing this, Śuddhodana took Mṛgajā and gave her to his son (T 1450, k. 3, p. 114b; Rockhill, Life, p. 23–24).

In regard to the conception and birth of Rāhula, at least three different traditions are distinguished:

1) First account:

According to a tradition represented by the Pāli Jātaka, I, p. 62 and the Buddhacarita, II, 46, Yaśodhara gave birth to Rāhula seven days before the Great Departure, and Śākyamuni came to kiss his son before leaving. After his six years of austerity and his enlightenment, when the Buddha returned to Kapilavastu, his son was seven years old.

2) Second account:

According to a tradition attributed to the Mahāsāṃghikas by the Fo pen hing tai king, T 190, k. 55, p. 908c3, Śākyamuni had his first marital relations with Yaśodhara only seven days before the Great Departure (Ken pen chouo … p’o seng che, T 1450, k. 4, p. 115a; Rockhill, Life, p. 24, and Rāhula was conceived just before his father left (Mahāvastu, II, p. 159). Yaśodhara bore Rāhula in her womb for six years (Mahāvastu, III, p. 172; T’ai tseu jouei yin gi pen k’i king, T 185, k. 1, p.475a20; Fo pen hing tsi king, T 190, k. 55, p. 908a14–15; Tsa pao tsang king, T 202, no. 117, k. 10, p. 496b26; Mo ho seng k’i liu, T 1425,k. 17, p. 365c12–16), and gave birth to him the very night that the Buddha reached enlightenment (Ken pen chouo … p’o seng che, T 1450, k. 5, p. 124c; Rockhill, Life, P. 32).

– According to this latter tradition, the Buddha did not return to visit his family at Kapilavastu that year, but six years later; twelve years therefore had passed since his departure, namely, the six years of austerity and the six years following the enlightenment (Ken pen chouo … p’o seng che, T 1450, k. 12, p. 159a8–9). Thus Rāhula was six years old when he first saw his father and was ordained by him (Fo pen hing tsi king, T 190, k. 55, p. 906b26–28; Mppś, T 1509, k. 17, p. 182c).

3) Third account:

Finally, according to another tradition, attributed to the Kāśyapīyas and to other teachers by T 190, k. 55, p. 908c3; 909c24, Rāhula was two years old when his father left home to devote himself to austerity and fifteen years old when he returned to Kapilavastu. Rāhula thus had the customary fifteen years of age when he became a śrāmaṇera.

Notes (2) regarding Yaśodharā’s pregnancy:

For this episode, compare the following sources:

Source: the Mahāvastu:

Mahāvastu, III, p. 142–143: Learning of Buddha’s return to Kapilavastu, Yaśodharā prepared a cake (modaka) and gave it to Rāhula, telling him to offer it to his father and reclaim the paternal heritage. The Buddha told him to enter the order and then he would receive the paternal heritage. This offer and promise prove that Rāhula is truly the son of the Buddha and that Yaśodharā is without blame.

Source: Fo pen hing tsi king:

Fo pen hing tsi king, T 190, k. 55, p. 906c (tr. Beal, Romantic Legend, p. 360):

When the Buddha arrived in Kapilavastu, Yaśodharā sent Rāhula to greet his father, and Śuddhodana asked the Buddha if Rāhula is truly is his son. The Buddha answered: “Yaśodharā is perfectly pure and innocent: this one is indeed my son.”

Source: Tsa pao tsang king:

Tsa pao tsang king, T 203, no. 117, k. 10, p. 496b seq. Summarized in Chavannes, Contes, III, p. 136):

As a result of her prolonged pregnancy, Yaśodharā was suspected of adultery by her father-oin-law and the Śākyas. They dug a ditch filled with flaming wood and threw Yaśodharā into it. She called upon the Buddha, the flaming ditch was instantaneously transformed into a pool of pure water, in the middle of which Yaśodharā with Rāhula in her arms was sitting on a lotus flower. The Śākyas were convinced of her innocence and Rāhula became the favorite of his grandfather. Six years later the Buddha returned to Kapilavastu and Rāhula recognized his father unheditatingly among the 1250 bhikṣus who resembled him perfectly. The Buddha caressed his sons’s head.

Source: Mūlasarvāstivāda-Vinayavastu:

Finally, here is the translation of a passage from the Mūlasarv. Vin (T 1450, k. 12, p. 158c–150a):

The Buddha was dwelling in Rājagṛha. At the time when the Bodhisattva left his (native) city, Yaśodharā was pregnant (garbhiṇī). When the Bodhisattva was practicing austerities (duṣkaracaryā) for six years, Yaśodharā was also practicing austerities in her palace; this is why her preganancy escaped being noticed. Then, understanding the futility of his ascetic practices, the Bodhisattva took his ease and breathed deeply as he pleased; he took good food and regained his strength; he anointed his body with oil and bathed in warm water. Hearing that, Yaśodarḥa in her palace also relaxed her physical and mental efforts to conform to the conduct of the Bodhisattva; her womb and belly began to develop and enlarge under her joyfulness.

Seeing this, the Śākyas jeered at her and said:

“While the Bodhisattva, away from the palace, gave himself up to austerities, you in your palace were secretly meeting another man. Now you are pregnant and your belly is getting big!”

Yaśodharā swore that she was not guilty. Shortly afterwards, she gave birth to a son, at the very moment when the (demon) Rāhu was eclipsing the moon. Her retinue (parivāra) gathered together to congratulate her.

They were invited to give a name to the baby, and being coonsulted, they said:

“At the moment when this child was born, Rāhu was holding the moon with his hand; he must be given the name of Rāhula.”

The Śākyas, discussing together, claimed that this child was not the son of the Bodhisattva. Hearing that, Yaśodharḥa wept. Holding Rāhuula in her arms, she made an oath; she took Rāhula and set him down on the “Bodhisattva”, i.e., on a rock which was once in the palace and which [was consulted] to resolve enigmas.

She set this “Bodhisattva” in the pool, making the following vow:

“If this child is truly the son of the Bodhisattva, may he float; if he is not, may he sink to the bottom.”

She spoke, and Rāhula as well as the rock on which he was placed floated easily. Then

Yaśodharā said: “I wish that they go from this shore to the other shore and then come back here”, and it went according to her wish. Seeing that, the crowd cried out at the miracle.

Taking up her son, she thought:

“The Buddha Bhagavat has practiced austerities for six years; he has attained enlightenment and, since them six more years have passed. Twelve years having passed, he must return here. I will arrange it so that everyone will see the truth with their own eyes.”

Then the Bhagavat returned to Kapilavastu; one day he dined in the king’s house; the next day he dined at the palace.

Yaśodharā said to herself: “Let us find a way that the Bhagavat will bend to my wishes.”

At that time there was in the city a heretic woman skillful at making love potions. Yaśodaharā sent her five hundred pieces of gold, asking her to make a potion and bring it to her. This woman made a little cake (modaka) of unique nature and brought it to the palace. Rāhula’s mother took it, and before all the palace people, put it into Rāhula’s hands, saying to him: “My child, take this cake and give it to your father.”

The Buddha, endowed with omniscience, understood in advance: he knew that by giving birth to Rāhula, Yaśodharā had been attacked; he wanted to put a stop that very day to the slander. Knowing that, the Bhagavat produced by metamorphosis (nirmāṇa) five hundred individuals looking exactly like himself. Holding the cake in his hands, Rāhula passed by all these, not offering them anything, but he stopped in front of the (true) Buddha and gave him the cake. The Buddha accepted it, then gave it back to Rāhula who took it and swallowed it. The Buddha knew that after having eaten it, he would be under the influence of a spell. {Actually), when the Buddha arose from his seat and went away, Rāhula went with him. The courtesans wanted to prevent him from leaving the palace, but Rāhula wept with anger; he insisted that he would go with the Buddha.

On leaving, the Buddha thought:

“I know that Rāhula will not take up another existence (punarbhava), that he will realize the fruits of the (Noble) Path (āryaphala) and that he will not want to live in the world.”

Knowing that, the Buddha took him away with him. Thanks to his earlier vows (pūrvapraṇidhāna), Rāhula had been able to recognize the Bhagavat in the midst of the five hundred buddhas; he did not want to leave him. Then king Śuddhodhama, the palace people, the retinue and all the Śākyas, seeing this prodigy, were filled with respect for Yaśodharā. They understood the futility of the blame they had thrown on her previously. Free of all blame, Yaśodharā was satisfied.

Source: stūpa near the village of Goli:

The visit of the Buddha to Yaśodharā is represented on a stūpa discovered near the village of Goli, (Guntur District): cf. T. N. Ramadhandran, Buddhist Sculptures from a Stupa near the village of Goli, Bull Mus. Madras, a929, p. 5–7, pl. II(F).

Rāhula, easily recognized by his head-dress, is represented three times in the same sculpture: on the right, he is respectfully receiving his mother’s orders; in the center, he carefully carries in his right hand the ‘cake potion’ (modaka) that Yaśodharā intended for the Buddha; on the left, he goes to welcome the Buddha who, clothed in the Roman manner with a nimbus and exhibiting the abhayamudrā, is at the gate of the women’s quarters. According to the interpretation of Ramachanran, the Rāhula of the center panel was playing ball; but the round object he holds seems rather to be the modaka that he was told to offer to his father according to the story of the Mahāvastu and the Mūlasarv. Vin. (l. c.)

Notes (3) regarding the prolonged pregnancy:

This well-known jātaka appears in the Mo ho seng k’i liu, T 1425, k. 17, p. 365c12–15, where the king who is accused of theft is called Li po (75 and 7; 85 and 6). It is told at length but without precise details in the Lieou tou tsi king, T 152, no. 53, k. 5, p. 30a–b (tr, Chavannes, Contes, I, p. 197–201); it is put into verse in the Fo wou po ti tseu king, T 199, no. 25, p. 199a–b, and reproduced textually in the King kiu yi siang, T 2121, k. 7, p. 34a.

Source: the Mahāvastu:

The most detailed version occurs in two closely related works, the Mahāvastu, III, p. 172–175, and the Fo pen hing tsi king, T 190, k. 55, p. 907a–908a (tr. Beal, Romantic Legend, p. 360–363):

Sūrya and Candra were sons of a brāhman-king of Mithilā (called Jen t’ien, Maṇusyadeva (?) in T 190). The throne becoming vacant, Sūrya gave the kingdom to his brother and became a hermit. But having made the vow not to take anything, even a drop of water that was not given to him, one day he inadvertently violated his vow by drinking the water in the vase of an ascetic. Considering himself to be a thief, he demanded first from his disciples, then from his brother, the punishment he thought he deserved. Candra, in order to please him and to rid him of his scruples made him live for six days in an aśoka forest where he was given the most delicate of food. At the end of six days, he proclaimed a general amnesty that freed Sūrya. Rāhula was at that time Candra, the Buddha was Sūrya (summarized by E. Senart).

Source: Mūlasarvāstivāda-Vinayavastu:

To explain the six years of bearing Rāhula, the Mūlasarv. Vin. resorts to the same jātaka, but changes the names of the individuals: cf. Ken pen chouo … p’o seng che, T 1450, k. 12, p. 162b–c, summarized in Chavannes, Contes, IV, p. 120:

Not far from the city of Vārāṇasī, two brothers lived as hermits in the forest; one was called Chang k’ie (Śaṅkha), the other Li k’i to (Likhita). The latter drank all the water from his brother’s flask so that he had nothing to drink when he went out to beg. Likhita was accused before the king of having stolen the water from his brother. The king, who was leaving for the hunt, ordered him to wait without moving, then he forgot about him for six days.

– For Śaṅkha and Likhita, see also a story in Ken pen chouo… yao che, T 1448, k. 16, p. 77c, which shows striking resemblance to Chavannes, Contes, no. 79, and the Mātaṅgajātaka of the Pāli Jātaka, IV, p. 376 seq.

Notes (4) on Yaśodharā’s persuasion:

The Mahāvastu, III, p. 143, tells that,

Yaśodharā put on all her jewels to persuade the Buddha to remain in the world, but to no avail.

Source: Mūlasarvāstivāda-Vinayavastu:

In the Mūlasarv. Vin. (T 1450, k. 12, p. 160c; Dulwa, in Rockhill, Life, p. 56–57),

Yaśodharā, Gopā, Mṛgajā and their 60,000 followers appeared before the Buddha in all their finery when the latter came to the palace to beg. The Blessed One accomplished all sorts of miracles in their presence and established them in the faith. Gopā, Mṛgajā and the 60,000 courtesans enterd the Path, but Yaśodharā, blinded by her love, still hoped to reconquer her former husband. A little later, however, she became converted, entered the order and became an arhatī.

Notes (5) on the Isisiṅga-jātaka:

The story of the hermit unicorn, Ṛṣyaśṛṅga or Ekaśṛṅga, seduced by a maiden (princess Nalinī, the courtesan Śātā or the goddess Alambuṣā) belongs to universal and Indian folklore. The characteristic feature of the story is that of the victorious woman, perched on the back of the ascetic she has seduced. Without specifying the many variations of the various versions of the story, we limit ourselves to the main sources.

Pāli sources: Jātaka no. 523 (V, p. 152–161): Alambusājātaka; Jātaka no. 526 (V, p. 193): Nalinikājātaka; Sumangala, II, p. 376; Samantapāsādikā, I, p. 214.

Sanskrit sources: Mahāvastu, III, p. 143–152; Buddhacarita, IV, v. 19; Avadānakalpalatā no. 65 (II, p. 413–455): Ekaśṛṅgāvadāna.

Chinese sources: Cheng king, T 134, no. 52, p. 105a–c; Fo pen hing tso king, T 190, k. 6, p. 726b (tr. Beal, Romantic Legend, p. 124); Mo ho seng k’i lin, T 1425, k. 1, p. 232b– 233a (tr. Chavannes, Contes, II, p. 282–287); Mūlasarv. Vin. (T 1451, k. 10, p. 161a–c; Dulwa, in Schiefner-Ralston, Tibetan Tales, p. 253–256); King liu yi siang, T 211, k. 39, p. 209–210 (tr. Chavannes, Contes, III, p. 233–237); Hiuan tsang, Si yu ki, T 2087, k. 2, p. 881b (tr. Beal, I, p. 113; Watters, I, p. 218) who places the hermitage of Ekaśṛṅga at the foot of the mountains of Swāt.

Buddhist iconography: Cunningham, Bārhut, pl. 26 (7); Marshall-Foucher, Mon. of Sañchī, I, p. 225; II, pl. 27 (1); Foucher, Représentations des Jātakas, Mémoires concernant l’Asie oreintale, III, p. 23 and pl. II (3 and 4), IV (3); Id., Deux jātaka sur ivoire… au Bégrām, India Antiqua, p. 17– 130; Fergusson, Tree and Serpent Worship, pl. 86; Ecke-Demiéville, Twin Pagodas, p. 64 and pl. 41 (2).

Brahmanical sources: Mahābhārata, III, 110, 23–113, 25; Padma-Opurāṇa, l. IV; Pariśiṣṭaparvan, ed. H. Jacobs, Calcutta, 1891, I, 90–258 (story of Valkalacīrin); Daśakumāracarita, ed. Godbole, Bombay, 1928, p. 75–89 (story of Marīci).

Works: H. Lüders, Die Sage von Ṛiṣyaśṛṅga, NGGW, 1897, p. 90–91, and 1902, p. 28–56.

– On the carious western versions, Lai of Aristotle, Decameron, Brother Philip’s geese, Barlaam and Josaphat, see Chavannes, Contes, IV, p. 231–233.

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