The Mahavastu (great story)

by J. J. Jones | 1949 | 502,133 words | ISBN-10: 086013041X

This page describes gift of a necklace to yashodhara which is Chapter VI of the English translation of the Mahavastu (“great story”), dating to the 2nd-century BC. This work belongs to the Mahasanghika school of early Buddhism and contains narrative stories of the Buddha’s former lives, such as Apadanas, Jatakas and more..

Chapter VI - The gift of a necklace to Yaśodharā

The monks asked the Exalted One, “Was it when the Exalted One was a young man distributing jewels to the maidens in the park, that he gave so many to Yaśodharā?” The Exalted One replied, “No, monks, this was not the first time,[1] that I gave a number of jewels to Yaśodharā.” The monks asked, “Was there another occasion?” The Exalted One replied, “Yes, there was another occasion.”

Once upon a time, monks, long ago, in the city of Benares, in the land of Kāśi, there reigned a king who was virtuous, and mighty, who treated his subjects kindly,[2] who was generous, and possessed a great army, treasury, and many beasts of burden. His kingdom was flourishing, rich, peaceful, well-supplied with food, and thickly peopled (68) with happy subjects. Punishment with the scourge and the sword had been abolished. Thieves were held in check and commerce thrived. That king had five-hundred women in his court. She who was the king’s chief queen was, above all the other women of his court, lovely, beautiful, accomplished, devout, and skilled in all the arts.

The king frequently distributed garments and jewels to the women of his court. He had a necklace worth a hundred thousand pieces. In the middle of it was a precious stone in which could be seen the four great continents of Jambudvīpa, Pūrvavideha, Aparagodānīya and Uttarakuru,[3] as well as Sumeru, the monarch of mountains. This precious jewel in the middle of the great necklace was worth several hundred thousand pieces.

While the king was distributing the jewels he asked the queen, “Lady, you attract me very much. By what means do you attract me so?” And the queen[4] replied in a verse:

Gesture, wanton behaviour, the excitement of sensuous attraction[5]—by these three, O king, are fickle men stirred up.

It may be again, monks, that you will think that at that time and on that occasion that king of Kāśi was somebody else. Indeed, you must not think so. And why? I, monks, at that time and on that occasion was the king of Kāśi. You may think that at that time and on that occasion the king of Kāśi’s chief queen was somebody else. That, again, you must not think. And why? Gracious Yaśodharā here was at that time and on that occasion the king of Kāśi’s chief queen. Then, too, did I make her many gifts.

Here ends the Jātaka of the Gift of a Necklace to Yaśodharā.[6]

Footnotes and references:

1.

Na idānīṃ eva.

2.

Or, “who controlled his subjects (well),” saṅgṛhltEparijana. Generally sunigṛhīta°’ well-restrained” or “governed” is used in this formula.

3.

See Vol. I, p. 7, n. 2.

4.

Text has hevī (sic) for devī.

5.

Literally “sensuous attraction by excitement,” nimittasya grāhaṇaṃ kautūhālena. For nimittasya grāhaṇaṃ, cf. Pali nimittagāhin “entranced with” (especially with an object of sight). See references in P.E.D.

6.

Not in J.