by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes The Story of Vitatubha (son of King Pasenadi and Vasabhakhattiya) contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as buddha’s Brahmin Parents in His Previous Existence. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).
Three princes: (1) Prince Pasenadi, son of King Mahā Kosala of Sāvatthi, (2) Prince Mahā Licchavī, son of King Licchavī of Vesalī, and (3) Prince Bandula, son of King Malla of Kusināra, who were on their way to Takkasīla (Taxila) to get their education under a famous Professor there, met at a rest house outside the city. They introduced themselves, learned one another’s names, parentage and clan, and also the purpose of their journey, and they became friends. After having completed their education under the guidance of the great teacher in due time, they bid farewell to the teacher and left Taxila together and returned to their respective homes.
Of these three princes, Prince Pasenadi demonstrated his prowess and skill before his royal father, King Mahā Kosala, who was so pleased with his son’s capabilities that he anointed him king and so the Prince became King Pasenadi of Kosala.
Prince Mahāli of the Licchavis also demonstrated his prowess and skill before the Licchavis so arduously that both of his eyes went blind. The Licchavī princes felt very sorry at the fate of their teacher Prince Mahāli and conferred among themselves to afford suitable status to him without abandoning him. They unanimously resolved to name him as lord of a certain toll gate which had a yearly revenue of a hundred thousand pieces of silver. Prince Mahāli lived on the revenues collected at the toll gate and took charge of educating and training the five hundred Licchavī princes.
When Prince Bandula demonstrated his prowess and skill before the Mallas, he was tricked by someone: an iron rod was secretly concealed inside one of the bamboos which he was to cut with his sword. There were sixty bundles of sixty bamboos each standing before him. His royal father commanded: “Now son, cut these bamboos with your sword,” by way of testing the prince’s might. Prince Bandula leapt up to a height of eighty cubits and cut down the sixty bundles of bamboos one by one. At the last bundle he noticed a strange frictional noise from inside the bamboo which had the concealed iron rod inside. Discovering the nature of the dirty trick played upon him, he threw away his sword and wailed: “Oh, there was not a single one out of this big crowd of my kinsmen and friends who would out of kind regard for me warn me of this trick. Had I been forewarned, I could very well have cut that iron rod too without letting it betray its presence there by its frictional noise.” Then he said to his royal parents: “I shall kill all the Malla princes and make myself king.” To this the parents replied: “Dear son, it is a time-honoured tradition with us Mallas to rule by turns. We cannot approve of your idea.” On being repeatedly refused approval of this idea of his, Prince Bandula became frustrated and said: “Then I will go and live with my friend King Pasenadi of Kosala,” and he went to Sāvatthi.
When King Pasenadi of Kosala learned the arrival of his friend Prince Bandula, he went out to greet him and escorted him into the city with much pomp and honour. King Pasenadi of Kosala made Bandula his Commander-in-Chief and Bandula sent for his royal parents and let then live in Sāvatthi. This is an account of the three Princes: Prince Kosala, Prince Mahāli of the Licchavis, and Prince Bandula of the Mallas.
King Pasenadi of Kosala tries to become closely acquainted with The Sangha
One day, King Pasenadi of Kosala was standing on an upper floor of his multi-gabled palace, looking out towards the high road in the city when he saw thousand of bhikkhus going to the houses of Anāthapiṇḍika, the rich man, Cūla Anāthapiṇḍika, the rich man, Visākhā, the donor of the Pupphārāma Monastery, and Suppavāsā, the rich man’s wife, to collect alms-food. He asked his men where these bhikkhus were going and they reported to him that two thousand bhikkhus daily collected their alms-food——the daily food, the ticket food (i.e., specially arranged, invited food offering at the donor’s place), or sick-bhikkhu's food at the house of Anāthapiṇḍika; and five hundred each at the house of Cūla Anāthapiṇḍika, at the house of Visākhā, and at the house of Suppavāsā. The King was impressed. He also wanted to be a regular donor of alms-food to the Sangha. He went to the Jetavana Monastery and invited the Buddha and a thousand bhikkhus to the palace and offered food for seven days when he personally served the food. On the seventh day, he said to the Buddha: “Venerable Sir, may the Bhagavā and five hundred bhikkhus come to the palace to receive our food offerings every day.” The Buddha replied: “Great King, it is not the custom of Buddhas to receive alms-food from the same donor every day. People like to see the Buddha visits to their home too.”
“In that case, Venerable Sir, may the Bhagavā let one regular bhikkhu, together with five hundred other bhikkhus, come to the palace for daily alms-food offering.” The Buddha assigned the Venerable Ānanda to head five hundred bhikkhus to go to the palace for the daily alms-food.
The King attended to the offering of food to the bhikkhus personally for seven days without assigning these duties to anyone. On the eighth day, he was preoccupied with state affairs and forgot to offer alms-food to the Sangha.
As it was not the custom in the royal palace to carry out anything without orders, the attendants just provided seats to the bhikkhus but no offering of food took place for lack of orders. Many of the bhikkhus were disappointed and saying: “We cannot remain here” and left. On the next day also, the King forgot to feed the Sangha and many of the bhikkhus left the palace. On the third day also, the same thing happened and all the bhikkhus left but only the Venerable Ānanda remained.
Noble ones endowed with great past merits take things with wise circumspection. They foster the lay supporters’’ faith in the Teaching. To wit: there are certain disciples of the Buddha beginning with Venerable Sāriputta and Venerable Mahā Moggallāna who were two Chief Disciples;Therī Khemā and Therī Uppalavanna who were two Chief Female Disciples; Citta, the rich man, and Prince Hathakaḷavaka who were two foremost lay disciples; and Nandamātā, wife of the rich man of Veḷukaṇḍaka and Lady Khujjuttarā who were two foremost female lay disciples, they were acclaimed by the Buddha as foremost in their own right, who were endowed with the Ten Perfections (Pāramī) to a certain extent and were, therefore, noble persons of great past merit, blessed with their previous aspirations. The Venerable Ānanda also had fulfilled the Ten Perfections over a hundred thousand aeon (kappas) and was a noble one of great past merit, blessed with previous aspirations. He was circumspect by nature. So, being desirous of fostering the faith of the supporters, he alone remain in the palace for the daily food-offerings.
The palace officials prepared a suitable place and made food offerings to the only bhikkhu, the Venerable Ānanda. King Pasenadī of Kosala came to the palace after every other bhikkhu had left the palace. On seeing the food for the Sangha left untouched, the
King asked: “Have not the revered ones come?” and the officials replied that only the Venerable Ānanda came. The King was angry because he felt that the bhikkhus had let such a big amount of food go to waste. He went to see the Buddha and complained: “Venerable Sir, I had prepared food offerings for five hundred bhikkhus but only the Venerable
Ānanda. came. All the food remains untouched. How is it, Venerable Sir, that those bhikkhus have such disregard for our invitation to the palace?”
Thereupon, the Buddha did not say anything against the bhikkhus but said: “Great King, these bhikkhu disciples are not very well acquainted with you. Probably that is why they did not go to your palace.”
On that occasion, the Buddha discoursed to the bhikkhus, the Kula Sutta, setting out nine reasons for bhikkhus that make it not proper to go to the lay supporters of all the four castes, and nine reasons that make it proper to go to the lay supporters. (Aṅguttara Nikāya, Navaka Nipāta, Pathama Paṇṇāsaka, 2 - Sīhanāda vagga, 7 - Kula Sutta).
On being requested by King Pasenadi of Kosala to tell about that story, the Buddha related to him the story of Kesava Jātaka contained in the Catukka Nipāta (This story was also referred to when the Brahmā Baka was tamed by the Buddha and has mentioned earlier.)
After hearing the Buddha’s discourse, King Pasenadi of Kosala saw the need to become intimate with the bhikkhu Sangha and thought of some way to fulfil this aim. He struck on the idea of marrying one of the Sakyan princesses. “If I were to raise a Sakyan princess to the status of Chief Queen,” he thought, “the Bhagavā would become my relation and his disciples would consider me as an intimate person.” Thereupon, he sent an ultimatum to the Sakyan princes demanding the hand of a Sakyan princess in marriage to him. When the royal messengers charged with the mission asked: “Which princess that is, the daughter of which Sakyan prince, would his Majesty specify?” The King said: “Any Sakyan princess would do, provided her ancestry is ascertained by you.”
At the city of Kapilavatthu, the Sakyans held a council to answer the ultimatum. They did not like to go to war with their rival kingdom, for if they refused to comply with King Pasenadi’s demand their kingdom would certainly be invaded. Since the Kosala were a different clan from the Sakyans, they could not give in marriage anyone of their own kin to a non-Sakyan. It was Prince Mahānāma the Sakyan who conceived a way out of the dilemma. “I have a very beautiful girl born of one of my slaves (named Nāgamuṇḍā); the girl is called Vāsabhakhattiyā. Let us give her away.”
They agreed. Formal reply was then given to the delegation from Kosala: “We shall comply.”
“The daughter of which Sakyan prince are you going to give?”
“It is the daughter born of Mahānāma, the Sakyan Prince, cousin of Buddha Gotama, son of Amitodāna. Vāsabhakhattiyā is the name of the princess.”
The delegation returned to Sāvatthi with the favourable news. King Pasenadi of Kosala was pleased and said: “Go and bring the Sakyan princess without delay. But mark this: kings as a rule are crafty. A slaves daughter might be posed as a princess. So you must ascertain her genuineness by watching her at table: make sure she eats together with her Sakyan father.”
The delegation went again to Kapilavatthu and announced: “Our King of Kosala would accept only a princess who eats together with you Sakyans.” “Very well, friends,” said Mahānāma the Sakyan.
When it was meal time, Vāsabhakhattiyā, fully attired and adorned as a princess, was brought to the dining table where Mahānāma the Sakyan was sitting, and there it was made to appear that the two ate together. The delegation was satisfied with what they saw and returned to Savatthi with the girl.
(This neat trick was carried out thus:
When the Sakyans were confronted with the ‘dining test’ required by King Pasenadi of Kosala, the Sakyans were quite at a loss about what to do. But Mahānāma reassured them with the instruction that after the bogus princess was being seated at Mahānāma’s dining table, and the prince was just about to put his first morsel into the mouth, he was to be intervened with an urgent message which must be seen by him forthwith. The plan got the approval of the Sakyans and was carried out accordingly.) (This was taken in by the delegation from Sāvatthi.)
Back at their capital, the delegation reported to the King what they had witnessed. King Pasenadi of Kosala was delighted. He made (after the customary anointing ceremony) Vāsabhakhattiyā, the Chief Queen, and she was waited on by five hundred court ladies. Not long afterwards, the Chief Queen, who became very dear to the King, gave birth to a son with golden complexion.
When it was time for the young prince to be named, the Kosala King sent a royal message to the royal grand father Mahānāma, the Sakyan, informing him of the birth of a son and asking him to suggest a suitable name for the princeling. It so happened that the messenger who took the royal message to the Sakyan court was slightly hard of hearing. After reading the Kosala King’s message, Mahānāma remarked: “Vāsabhakhattiyā was previously a girl of great personal influence. And now after giving birth to a son she is going to be a favourite (vallabhā) of the Kosala King!” Now, the joyous expression ‘favourite’ i.e. an intimate darling, vallabhā in the local dialect, sounded as ‘viṭaṭūbha’ to the Kosalan messenger who took that word as the name to be given to the Kosalan Prince. He reported to King Pasenadi of Kosala: “Viṭaṭūbha is the name, your Majesty, that his royal grandfather suggests for the princeling.” The King mused: “Possibly, Viṭaṭūbha is a clan name of yore with us” and named his son, Viṭaṭūbha. Then with a view to pleasing the Buddha, the King made Viṭaṭūbha, Commander in-Chief, even in his tender age.
Viṭaṭūbha was brought up as a Prince in all regal style. When he was seven years old, he came to notice how other princes were receiving dolls and other children’s presents from their maternal grand parents and so he asked his mother, Chief Queen Vāsabhakhattiyā: “Mother, other princes get children’s presents, such as dolls and the like, from their maternal grandparents. But I have received none from my maternal grandparents. Why is it? Have you no parents?” The mother replied: “Dear son, the Sakyans of course are your maternal grand parents. But they live far away from us. That is why they cannot send you any gifts.”
When Viṭaṭūbha was sixteen, he said to his mother: “Mother, I would like to see my maternal grandparent’s palace.” And the mother discouraged him with the words: “Dear son, it is not advisable for you to do that. After all, what use is there in your seeing your maternal grandparent’s palace?” But Prince Viṭaṭūbha was insistent and after many repeated requests, the mother could do nothing but to yield to his wish.
Viṭaṭūbha informed his father, the King, of his intended journey and left Sāvatthi, leading a big army. Chief Queen Vāsabhakhattiyā had in the meantime sent a secret message to the Sakyans asking them to keep up appearances when Viṭaṭūbha arrived so that the whole conspiracy would not in anyway be betrayed. This message gave the timely opportunity for the younger Sakyan princes, i.e., who are junior to Viṭaṭūbha to leave the city and remain in the remote country during his visit because they could not make obeisance to Viṭaṭūbha as would be normally expected. Those Sakyans, who were to receive Viṭaṭūbha, met him on arrival at Kapilavatthu, at the royal rest house.
There, Viṭaṭūbha was introduced to his maternal grandfather and maternal uncles whom he had to make obeisance. Having done his turn of paying respects, he saw no one paying him respects. “Why, are there no Sakyan to pay respects to me?” he asked. The Sakyan elders then said: “Dear son, your younger cousins have gone on a visit to the country.” They entertained Viṭaṭūbha lavishly.
After staying two or three days in Kapilavatthu, Viṭaṭūbha left the city with his big army. When every visitor had gone, a slave girl came to cleanse with diluted milk the seat where Viṭaṭūbha had sat at the royal rest house, all the while cursing: “Fie! Profaned is in this place——profaned by Viṭaṭūbha, the son of slave girl Vāsabhakhattiyā.” These words were overheard by one of Viṭaṭūbha’s men who had come back to the place to fetch his arms that he had forgotten to take away with him. He asked how far the girl’s curse was true and was told that Vāsabhakhattiyā was the child born of Mahānāma the Sakyan and his slave maid Vāgamuṇḍā. The Kosala soldier related this news to his comrades and it soon became the talk of the town that Chief Queen Vāsabhakhattiyā was a daughter of a slave girl.
When Viṭaṭūbha learned this news, he was quick to understand the situation. “Well, let the Sakyans cleanse my seat with diluted milk now, when I become king, I will wash my seat with the blood from the Sakyan’s throats?” He said to himself, bearing an ominous grudge against the Sakyan Clan.
After arriving back at the capital, the King’s ministers reported the news to the King. King Pasenadi of Kosala was very angry, with the Sakyans. “This presenting a slave girl for my queen is preposterous; it is an insult against my honour?” he roared and withdrew all the rank and status accorded to his Chief Queen and Commander-in-Chief, allowing them only slaves' rank and status.
Two or three days later, the Buddha paid a visit to the royal palace of King Pasenadi of Kosala where he sat on the specially arranged seat. The King made his obeisance to the Buddha and said to Him: “Venerable Sir, the kinsmen of the Bhagavā have deceived me. They had sent me a slave girl’s daughter, saying that she was a princess. I have discovered this and have therefore downgraded both mother, Vāsabhakhattiyā, and son, Viṭaṭūbha, to the slave’s rank and status.”
The Buddha said: “Great King, the Sakyans had done a wrong thing, they ought to have given you a princess as befitting your lineage. However, Great King, I wish you to consider this: Vāsabhakhattiyā was a daughter of Mahānāma the Sakyan; and moreover she has been anointed as Chief Queen by you who are of royal blood. Viṭaṭūbha is of your own blood. What does maternal lineage matter? It is paternal lineage that counts. This important fact was recognized by wise people of past and therefore, a firewood-gatherer, a poor peasant girl, was made the Chief Queen, and the boy born of this Chief Queen of humble origin became King Kaṭṭhavāhana of Bārāṇasī, a city with an area of twelve yojanas.” When King Pasenadi of Kosala had heard the story of Kaṭṭhavāhana, he was satisfied with the dictum “that only paternal lineage is of real significance.” Accordingly he reinstated the Chief Queen and the Commander-in-Chief to their previous ranks and status. (Ref: Ekanipāta for the story of Katthavāhana.)
The Story of Bandula, The Commander-in-Chief and His Wife Mallikā
The Commander-in-Chief of King Pasenadi of Kosala was Bandula, a Malla prince. His wife Mallikā was the daughter of King Malla of Kusināra. Even after some years of wedlock, the couple did not beget any offspring. Bandula therefore sent Mallikā to her father’s home. Mallikā thought that it would be well if she visited the Buddha before leaving Sāvatthi. So, she went to the Jetavana monastery and made obeisance to the Buddha. On being asked where she was going next, Mallikā told the Buddha how she was being sent home to her father because she failed to produce any child. Thereupon, the Buddha said: “In that case there is no need for you to go home to your father. You should go back to the home of the Commander-in-Chief.” Mallikā was very happy with these words and, making her obeisance to the Buddha, she went back to her husband. Bandula asked her why she had come back. She told him what the Buddha had said to her. Bandula pondered: “The Bhagavā is far sighted. He must have fore-knowledge about Mailikas probable pregnancy.” And so he let her stay with him.
Not long afterwards, Mailikā was pregnant. She had an intense craving as is often the case with pregnant women. She told her husband about it. She wanted to bathe in the auspicious royal lake where the Licchavis usually got anointed king and she also wanted to drink its water. Bandula said: “Very well,” and putting her on his chariot and, taking his great bow that needed a thousand men to harness, they left Sāvatthi and entered Vesali from the city gate assigned to Mahā Licchavī for enjoyment of tolls collected at that gate. Mahā Licchavī’s house was just close by.
Mahā Licchavī recognized the sound of Bandula’s chariot thumping on the threshold of the city gate. He had great foreboding: “Disaster is afoot today for the Licchavi’s,” and he warned them. The auspicious royal lake was very heavily guarded, inside as well as outside. It was covered with iron netting so that even birds could not gain entry to it.
Bandula, the Commander-in-Chief, alighted from his chariot, drove away the guards with his cane and cut open the iron netting with his scimitar. He and his wife entered the lake, bathed there and, coolly putting her in the chariot, headed home by the same route that he had come.
The guards reported the matter to the Vajjī princes. Infuriated, the Vajjis mounted on five hundred chariots and gave chase. When the chase was reported to Mahā Licchavī, he called out: “O young Licchavī princes, don't do that! That Bandula, the Commander-in-Chief will destroy you.” To that the princes replied: “Sir, we cannot stand it. We must catch him!”
Mahā Licchavī had known the might of his schoolmate, Bandula, and warned the Vajjī princes thus:
“Well, princes, if you must give chase, when you see Bandula’s chariot depressed down to the wheel hub, turn back from wherever you saw it.”
“If you don't turn back, but still pursue him, do turn back when you hear a great roaring sound.”
“If you don't turn back, but still pursue him, you will see holes at the front of each of your chariots. Turn back wherever you see these holes! Don't go any further.”
The Licchavi’s ignored the advice and proceeded on hot pursuit. When Mallikā saw they were being pursued, she told Bandula what she saw. “Well, (watch well). When all the five hundred chariots are seen as one (i.e., when they all were in a straight line from him), tell me!” he said. Mallikā informed her husband when the pursuing chariots were seen as a single one. Then Bandula, the Commander-in-Chief, gave the reins of the horse to her saying: “You hold them!” Then he stood in the chariot and drew his great bow that needed a thousand strong men to do it. At that moment, the chariot sank to the level of the wheel hub. The Licchavis saw this but did not heed Mahā Licchavī’s warning and drove on. Bandula, as the Commander-in-Chief, after proceeding a while, pulled at the bow string producing a thunderous sound. The Licchavis heard it but still they did not turn back. Then Bandula sent an arrow which pierced through all the five hundred pursuing chariots, it passed through the chest of the Licchavī princes and struck the ground.
The Licchavī princes were still unaware that they had been shot and cried: “Hey, Bandula, stop!” all the while still following Bandula. Then Bandula, the Commander-in-Chief, halted a while and said: “All of you Licchavis are dead men. I need not fight with dead persons!”
“But we do not look like dead men, do we?”
“Then take off the mail armour from the last Licchavī Prince.”
When they did as they were told, the lifeless body of the rearmost Licchavī prince dropped to the floor of the chariot. Then Bandula told them to drive home and prepare for the funeral of all of them. “Before taking off your mail armour, you may leave your last word to your wives,” he added. The Licchavis did as they were told. All of them perished.
Bandula, the Commander-in-Chief, drove back with his wife, Mallikā, safely home. She bore him twin sons sixteen times so that the couple had thirty-two robust sons, all brave and strong. They had their training completed in all the arts when they were allotted a thousand men each as their followers. Whenever Bandula, the Commander-in-Chief, appeared in court, he and his thirty two sons, together with thirty two thousand strong warriors would filled the whole courtyard.
The Commander-in-Chief Bandula performing as A Judge
One day, there arose an uproar at the court of justice complaining that a miscarriage of justice had taken place. The matter was reported to Bandula the Commander-in-Chief, who then went to the Court of Justice, heard the case afresh, and passed judgment, declaring who the rightful owner was. The people joined in their loud approval of the righteous judgment.
King Pasenadi of Kosala heard the sound and asked what it was. On being told about it, the King was very pleased and placed him in charge of the Court of Justice; the former justices were all removed from service. Bandula thus got an additional duty as judge which he discharged with uprightness.
The disgraced judges, being deprived of their usual bribes, plotted against Bandula, the Commander-in-Chief. They conspired to make false allegations that Bandula was aspiring to the throne. The King believed the words of the disgraced judges. He was greatly ill at ease. He wanted to do away with Bandula but since Bandula was a popular figure he dared not put Bandula to death in the city. So he invented a wicked ploy. He had his trusted men stage an ‘uprising’ at the border regions. Bandula, the Commander-in-Chief, and his thirtytwo sons were ordered to put down the ‘uprising,’ and to bring back the insurgents. The King sent along his chosen generals with Bandula, with orders to murder Bandula and all his sons.
When Bandula got to the so-called area of unrest, the King’s men planted as insurgents fled. Bandula carried out measures to turn the remote region into flourishing settlements, and returned to the city. When they were a good distance away from the city, the captains, who were sent along with them, beheaded Bandula and his thirty-two sons.
On that day, Mallikā, the wife of the Commander-in-Chief, was preparing to offer a meal to the two Chief Disciples, the Venerable Sāriputta and the Venerable Mahā Moggallāna together with five hundred bhikkhus at her home. Early that morning, she had received a message that her husband Bandula, the Commander-in-Chief, and her thirty-two sons had been beheaded. She kept the news to herself, having slipped in the note of message inside her jacket. While she was attending on the two Chief Disciples at table, her maids, after having offered rice, were bringing ghee to the table, when they accidentally broke the vessel containing ghee. The two Chief Disciples witnessed this. The Venerable Sāriputta asked Mallikā: “What has the nature of breaking up had broken up. Don't let it prey on your mind.” Thereupon, Mallikā produced the grim message from inside her jacket and said: “Venerable Sir, they sent me this message to tell me that my thirty-two sons, together with their father, had been beheaded. Even that news I did not allow to prey on my mind; how would this pot of ghee prey on my mind?”
The Venerable Sāriputta gave a discourse beginning with the stanza: Animitta manaññātaṇ macānaṃ ida jīvitaṃ (etc.). Then he rose from his seat and returned to the Jetavana monastery. (Ref: Sutta Nipāta, 3. Mahā vagga; 7 Salla Sutta.)
When the offering of food to the Sangha was finished Mallikā sent for her thirty-two daughters-in-law and said: “Dear daughters-in-law, your husbands, though faultless, have suffered the consequence of their past deeds. Do not be oppressed by sorrow, grief and lamentation. Also do not bear malice against the King.” These words were overheard by the King’s secret agents who reported to the King that Bandula and his sons were free of guilt. The King was remorseful. He went to Mallikā’s house and apologized to Mallikā and her thirty-two daughters-in-law. Then he offered Mallikā to name any boon she would like.
Mallikā said: “Great King, let the boon be considered as having been granted to me.” After the King had returned, she offered special alms-food to the Sangha for the benefit of the dear departed ones. Then she took her bath and went to see the King. She bowed before the King and said: “Great King, you have granted me leave to name a boon. I have no other wish than your permission to allow me and my thirty-two daughters-in-law to return to our respective parents.” The King gave his assent gladly. Mallikā sent home her thirty-two daughters-in-law to their respective parents homes and she herself returned to hers.
(The Mallikā Story; continued:
Mallikā lived in her parents' home in Kusinārā for a long time. When the Buddha passed away and she learned that his remains were being carried to Kusinārā by the Mallas, she got the idea to honour the Buddha by adorning the Buddha’s body with the (famous) mahālatā gown which she did not wear since the death of her husband. She took it out from its place, cleaned it with perfumed water and awaited the arrival of the Buddha’s remains. The mahālatā gown was a very rare piece of adornment which only three persons had the good fortune to possess, namely. Visākhā, Mallikā wife of Bandula, the Commander-in-Chief, and Devadinya the thief. (This is according to the Commentary on the Mahāvagga, Dīgha Nikāya.)
According to the Commentary on the Dhammapada it was possessed by these three ladies in the whole human world, viz., Visākhā, Mallikā, wife of Bandula the Commander-in-Chief, and the daughter of a rich man of Bārāṇasī.
When the remains of the Buddha were being carried past her house, she requested the carriers of the bier: “Please! Please wait a moment,” and she (respectfully) encased the Buddha’s body in the mahālatā gown which covered neatly from head to sole. The goldenhued body of the Buddha, clothed in the great gown, wrought with the seven kinds of gems made a gorgeous spectacle.
Mallikā’s mind was filled with ecstatic delight in seeing the magnificence of the Buddha’s body. Her conviction in the Triple Gem soared. She made this wish: “O Exalted Buddha! May I, in my faring the saṃsāric journey, be always perfect in my personal appearance even without the need to embellish myself.” (Commentary to the Mahāvagga (Dīgha Nikāya) on Mahāparinibbāna Sutta.)
After she had passed away, Mallikā was reborn as a celestial being in the Tāvatiṃsa Deva realm. On account of her wish she was endowed with unrivalled beauty. She had a dress magnificently finished with the seven kinds of gems and also a mansion of like description. (See details in the commentary on Vimāna Vatthu, 3-Pārichattaka Vagga, 8-Mallikā. Vimāna Vatthu).
King Pasenadi of Kosala let the nephew of Bandula, named Dīghakārāyaṅa, to succeed him as Commander-in-Chief. This token of his high regard for Bandula did not, however, appease the nephew He kept awaiting his opportunity to revenge the death of his innocent uncle.
The King was never happy since the assassination of the innocent Bandula. A feeling of guilt possessed him, so much so that he did not find pleasure in his kingly luxuries. At that time, the Buddha was sojourning at the market town of Medaḷupa, in the province of the Sakyans. The King of Kosala, wishing to see the Buddha, put up a rustic tent built of branches of trees in the vicinity of the Buddha’s monastery and stayed there. There, leaving the regal paraphernalia with Dīghakārāyana, the Commander-in-Chief, he entered the Buddha’s chamber alone.
(The reason for the King’s leaving his regal paraphernalia with Dīghakārāyana were: (1) he considered it improper to look ostentatious in the presence of the Buddha; and (2) he intended to have a private dialogue with the Buddha which he believed would gladden him. That indeed is so. For, when the regal paraphernalia was sent to the palace, it was understood by the royal attendants that (they did not need to wait on the King in the meantime and that) they should return to the palace. As the Kosala King went alone to the Buddha’s monastery, Dīghakārāyana felt uneasy with the thought: “This King had previously private conference with Gotama the recluse;" after which my uncle Bandula and his thirty-two sons were assassinated; now he is again in conference with Gotama the recluse. What might this mean? Might I be the target this time?”
As soon as the King had entered the Buddha’s chamber, Dīghakārāyana, the Commanderin-Chief, took the regal paraphernalia to Viṭaṭūbha, cajoled and coerced Viṭaṭūbha to accept kingship then and there. Then he left a charger, a scimitar and a royal maid for Pasenadi of Kosala with a note saying: “Do not come after us if you wish to stay alive!” After that he took Prince Viṭaṭūbha to the palace in Sāvatthi as the new king with the white umbrella held above him.
When the Kosala King came out of the monastery after having cordial conversation with the Buddha, he saw none of his army: he asked the maid who told him what she heard and saw. Thereupon, he headed for Rājagaha to muster help from his royal nephew, King Ajātasattu with the object of deposing Viṭaṭūbha the usurper. On his way, he had to make do with a meal of broken rice and to drink unfiltered water. As he was of a delicate constitution, that food proved indigestible for him. It was late in the evening when he got to the city of Rājagaha. The city gates were already closed. So he had to spend the night at a rest-house outside the city, intending to see his nephew King Ajātasattu the next morning. That night, the Kosala King suffered from indigestion due to the upset condition of phlegm, bile and wind. He could answer the call of nature only two or three times before he became totally exhausted. He slept in the bosom of the young maid who was his sole company. He died at dawn the next day. (At the time of death, the Kosala King was eighty years of age, the same age as the Buddha. (Ref: Majjhima paṇṇāsa Pāli, Dhammacetiya Sutta).
When the young maid found that the King had passed away, she wailed loudly: “My Lord, the Kosala King, who had ruled over the two provinces of Kasi and Kosala, had died uncared for outside the city on this rest-house where the homeless make it their home.” On hearing her lamentation people came to know about the death of the Kosala King. They reported it to King Ajātasattu who came out and saw his dead uncle. He arranged for a fitting funeral with much ceremony. Then he mustered his troops by the beat of the gong, intending to capture Viṭaṭūbha.
The ministers of King Ajātasattu pleaded, at his feet, saying: “Great King, if your royal uncle (the Kosala King) were alive, your visit to Savatthi would be proper. But now that Vitatubha, your younger cousin, is on the throne, and he had also a right through kinship to the throne, your expedition is not advisable.” (And Ajātasattu accepted the ministers’ advice.)
Prince Viṭaṭūbha, after ascending the throne at Sāvatthi, remembered his grudge against the Sakyans. He left the city at the head of a big army to make war against and destroy the Sakyans. Early in the morning, the Buddha viewed the world of beings with his Buddha-Eye and saw that danger was imminent for His kinsmen the Sakyans. He thought it right and proper to protect them. So after going on the alms-round, He took a rest in His scented Chamber in a noble resting posture (like the lion) lying on His right side. In the evening He went to Kapilavattu by His psychic power and reappeared sitting at the foot of a tree with bare branches in the vicinity of the city of Kapilavatthu.
Not far away from that tree there was a shady banyan tree near the boundary between Kapilavatthu and Viṭaṭūbha’s country. When Viṭaṭūbha saw the Buddha, he made obeisance to Him and said: “Venerable Sir, how is it that the Bhagavā is sitting underneath this skeleton of a tree when it is still hot? May You come and sit underneath shady banyan tree which is near our boundary.” The Buddha replied: “Great King, so be it. Shelter provided by kinsman is cool enough.” Viṭaṭūbha was not slow to take the hint. He surmised (rightly) that the Buddha was there to give His benign protection to His kinsmen. So he withdrew his forces after respectfully making his obeisance to Him. The Buddha reappeared in the Jetavana monastery by His psychic power.
Viṭaṭūbha did not forget the insult he suffered at the hands of the Sakyan. He took out another expedition against the Sakyan city. On this occasion too the Buddha was there and he was obliged to withdraw. For the third time he led a mighty force towards the Sakyan territory, only to meet with the Buddha before he could start operation and had to withdraw,
When King Viṭaṭūbha set out for the fourth time the Buddha saw that the time for the evil misdeeds of the Sakyan was taking effect and so He did not intervene. The past misdeeds of the Sakyans consisted in spreading poison in a stream on a certain day in their previous existence.
Viṭaṭūbha came with a big army intent on destroying the Sakyans. The Buddha’s kinsmen, on the other hand, were averse to taking life. They would rather give up their own life than destroy life. They know that they were past masters in archery, so they thought of frightening away the enemy by their feats in archery. They put on mail armour and came out pretending to join battle. They sent arrows into the enemy which did not hit anyone but passed through their shields or through holes in their ear lobes (pierced while young for wearing ear-rings).
When Viṭaṭūbha saw the arrows, he thought that the Sakyans were shooting them in earnest. “They say the Sakyans don't destroy life,” he said, “but now they are trying to kill us with arrows!”
One of his men said: “Lord, inspect your forces and you will know.”
“The arrows come in the direction of our men.”
“But there is no one being hit on this side, Great King. Would your Majesty make a count of your men,” replied the men boldly. The King ordered to make a count and found that no one had fallen.
Viṭaṭūbha withdrew his forces a little and ordered his men: “O men, slay all those who say they are Sakyan. But spare my grand father Mahānāma and those who are together with him. Thereupon Viṭaṭūbha’s forces made a dash for the kill. The Sakyans did not see anything to hold on to. Some of them stood holding on to tufts of grass while others stood holding on to clusters of reed. When asked by the enemy: “Are you not Sakyan?” these Sakyans did not and could not utter a lie, those Sakyan holding on to the grass so replied: “These are not Tectona grandis trees but only grass, and those Sakyans holding on to the reeds replied: “These are not Tectona grandis trees, but only reed.” Those Sakyans and Mahānāma together with the Sakyans that remained together with him were spared. Those who held on to the grass later came to be known as Grass Sakyans, and those who held on to the reeds as Reed Sakyans. All other Sakyans were put to the sword, not even infants were allowed to live. Viṭaṭūbha then cleansed his seat with the enemy’s blood from their throats. Thus was the Sakyans clan exterminated by Viṭaṭūbha.
Mahānāma, the Sakyan was captured alive. On his way to Viṭaṭūbha’s country, when it was time for the morning meal, they dismounted and the table was laid; Viṭaṭūbha informed Mahānāma to join him. Persons of royal blood as a rule never share a meal with sons of a slave. Mahānāma therefore, noticing a pond nearly, said: “My grandson, I need a washing up before I eat.” “Then, Grand father, take a bath,” replied Viṭaṭūbha.
Mahānāma knew that if he refused to eat with Viṭaṭūbha, he would be put to the sword. “It were better to take my own life,” he mooted. So he untied his coil of hair, made a knot at the end of his hair which was spread out, and putting both his big toes together inside the hair, he dived into the water. Mahānāma was possessed of such merit that his presence underneath the water caused warmth in the realm of Nāgas. The King of Nāgas looked for the strange phenomenon and on seeing the plight of Mahānāma, he appeared before him and letting him sit on his hood, carried him down to the realm of Nāgas where Mahānāma survived for twelve years.
Viṭaṭūbha and Company meet Their Fate
King Viṭaṭūbha was left waiting for the return of his royal grand father. “He should be back any time,” he kept on saying to himself. When he had waited rather too long: “Something is wrong,” he thought and he had his men wade into the water, dive into it, and search around the pond. As it was already dark, he sent his men all around to search any possible nook and corner with oil lamps. When he had left no stone unturned, he gave up the search at that locality and assuming his grandfather must have fled from him, he and his army left the place.
He arrived at the Aciravati river at nightfall and it was too late to enter the city. So he and his army had to camp on the river bank for the night. Some of his men lay on the sandbank to rest while others lay on higher ground. Among the first group there were some who had not committed evil deeds in the past; among the second group there were some who had done evil deeds in the past. It so happened that to both groups, swarms of white ants made their stay impossible. They were driven to seek fresh quarter for the night. Those who had done no bad actions in the past, who were lying on the sand bank, therefore found it necessary to move to high ground;those who had done bad actions in the past, who were lying on high ground, found it necessary to move to the sand bank.
After the people had made these shifting of locations, there arose black rain clouds and all of a sudden there was a deluge that caused the Aciravatī to burst its banks. Viṭaṭūbha and his army were carried away in the floods down to the ocean where they were devoured by fishes and turtles.
The Past Evil Actions of The Sakyans
The massacre of the Sakyan became a subject of a lively talk among the people. “O men,” they would say, “the massacre of the Sakyans is absolutely uncalled for and the brutality they suffered, their small children even not being spared, is most improper.” This sort of popular opinion came to the ear of the Buddha, who said: “Bhikkhus, the Sakyans meet with a seemingly undeserved fate in their present existence. However, if their present fate is considered against their past evil action, they met the kind of death appropriate to the cause thereof.” The bhikkhus requested the Buddha to relate the nature of their past evil action. And the Buddha briefly related to them, how in a certain existence in the past, they had united themselves in one mind and spread poison into a stream (causing mass destruction of fish in it).
Again, the following day, at the assembly of bhikkhus for hearing the Teaching, the bhikkhus were discussing about the fate of Viṭaṭūbha: “Friends, Viṭaṭūbha together with his company, after slaying such a great number of the Sakyans, became victims of fishes and turtles in the ocean even before achieving his ambition.” When the Buddha came to the assembly and asked the bhikkhus: “Bhikkhus, what was that you were talking about when I came?” They told the Buddha about their subject of discussion. Then the Buddha said: “Bhikkhus, just as all the villagers in a sleeping village are swept away by a great flood, so also, even before their ambitions in life are fulfilled, all living beings who are forgetful and sleeping (i.e., not vigilant) have their lives cut short and are carried away by Death to the ocean of the four miserable states.” Then the Buddha uttered this stanza:
(Bhikkhus) like one who gathers choicest flowers, a person, who hankers after sense-pleasure, craving for what he had not got and clinging to what he has got, is carried away by Death to the ocean of the four miserable states, just as a whole village that are soundly asleep are swept away to the ocean by a great flood.
By the end of the discourse many beings attained enlightenment such as Stream-Entry. This discourse is therefore a very beneficial discourse for all.
Here ends the story of Viṭaṭūbha, (the Destroyer of Friends).