The Mahavastu (great story)

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

This page describes story of kshantivadin (kshantivada) which is Chapter XXXIII 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 XXXIII - The story of Kṣāntivādin (Kṣāntivāda)

Note: This is Jātaka No. 313 Fausbölí. J. 3.59ff. The “occasion”, however, is entirely different.

The monks said to the Exalted One, “Dharma has been taught by the Lord to an assembly of devas and men.” (357) The Exalted One replied, “This, monks, is not the first time that I have taught the dharma to an assembly of devas and men.” The monks asked, “Was there another occasion, Lord?” The Exalted One replied, “Yes, monks.”

Once upon a time, monks, long ago, in the city of Benares, in the province of Kāśi, there reigned a king named Kalabha,[1] who was savage, cruel and violent. On one occasion, while the women of his court were sauntering in the park, he started playing a water-game with them in the lotus-pool. They trampled the lotuses as they played and sported and amused themselves, until he and the women became tired with the sport. The king fell asleep and the women scattered about the park.

Then by means of his magic the seer Kṣāntivāda came from the continent of Uttarakuru,[2] and sat down in the park. He was seen by the women as they strolled about the park, and they, beholding in him a seer of great gifts, sat down around him with faith in their hearts, and said to him, “Teach us the dharma.” So the seer gave them a discourse on charity, morality, heaven and merit, and he explained to them the peril, the degradation[3] and the defilement of sensual pleasures, and the benefit[4] and purification that comes from renouncing the world. The noble seer explained to them the path of the ten moralities, from which springs wellbeing in the world for devas and men, which is bright and the fruit of which is happiness.

Thus did the women of the court sit round the seer wrapt in attention. Then the king woke up and failed to see the women. He was angered, and unsheathing his sword he went off on foot to search for them. And he saw those women of the court[5] sitting in front of the seer. When he saw the latter he was still more violently enraged because he had looked on the whole of his harem. In his anger and malevolence, he asked the seer, “Who are you?” The seer replied, (358) “I am a preacher of forbearance,[6] your majesty”. The king was still more enraged and said, “If you are a preacher of forbearance, stretch forth a finger.” The seer did so. With his sword the king lopped off the seer’s finger, and from it there flowed milk, just as a mother’s milk flows from her breasts out of love for her offspring. In the same way all the benevolent seer’s five fingers of each hand were lopped off one by one, and from each one milk flowed.

The king asked again, “What do you preach, sir?” Even then did the seer display his forbearance, and he replied, “I am a preacher of forbearance, your majesty.” Then his hand was chopped off, and again did milk flow.

Again the king asked, “What do you preach, sir?” Even then did the seer display his forbearance, and he said, “I am a preacher of forbearance, your majesty.” Then the king chopped off his other hand, beginning with the fingers and ending at the wrist, and always did the milk flow when each part was cut off.

Again the king asked, “What do you preach, sir?” The seer even then displayed his forbearance, and said, “I am a preacher of forbearance, your majesty.” Then his feet were cut off, beginning at the toes and ending at the knees.”

Again the king asked, “What do you preach, sir?” Even then the seer displayed his forbearance and said, “I am a preacher of forbearance, your majesty.” One of his ears was then cut off, and again milk flowed from the cut-off ear.

Again the king asked, “What do you preach, sir?” Even then the seer displayed his forbearance (359), and said “I am a preacher of forbearance, your majesty.” His other ear was then cut off, and from it there flowed the milk of one who was incorrupt of heart.

Again the king asked the seer, “What do you preach, sir?” Even then did the seer display his forbearance, and he said “I am a preacher of forbearance, your majesty.” His nose was then cut off, and from it there flowed the milk of one who was incorrupt of heart.

Again the king asked the seer, “What do you preach, sir?” Even then did the seer display his forbearance, and he said, “I am a preacher of forbearance, your majesty. If you cut up my body into a hundred fragments and throw it away in a hundred pieces, even then, still incorrupt of heart,[7] I would not give up my forbearance.”

When the seer had been thus mutilated, devas, Nāgas and Yakṣas were perturbed, demons[8] made a loud outcry, and beings knew a fearful trembling. People of town and country, seeing the great fear of the demons and hearing the noise of those who cried out, fell at the feet of the seer and implored his forgiveness.

O Great Brahmā,[9] be wroth with him who lopped off your hands, your feet, your ears and nose. May it be well with other men.

The seer replied:

I'll not be wroth even with him who lopped off my hands, my feet, my ears and nose, much less[10] with the rest of men.

The devas, Nāgas, Yakṣas and Gandharvas said, “Let us urge this seer to see to it that the kingdom, realm and dominion of King Kalabha do not prosper.”[11]

Let his rich country be laid waste with fire and his realm destroyed, since they have harmed the seer, the harmless Kṣāntivāda.

(360) Let this city be laid waste with fire and be made an abode of death,[12] since they have harmed the seer, the harmless Kṣāntivāda.

Let this king be burnt, together with his counsellors and his court, since they have harmed the seer, the harmless Kṣāntivāda.

Townsmen and countrymen seeing the great perturbation of the demons were terrified, and falling at the seer’s feet, they implored him:

O Great Brahmā be wroth with him who lopped off your hands, your feet, your ears and nose. Let it be well with the rest of men.

But the seer replied:

Be not afraid that any harm will come to you. For not even with him who topped off my hands, my feet, my ears and nose will I be wroth, much less with other men. But the king will have to reap the fruit of the deed he has done.

To the devas, Nāgas, Yakṣas and Gandharvas the seer said:

The deva will not send rain[13] in due season. The seeds that are sown[14] will not grow, because they will be burnt by the heat and destroyed by the wind.

Thus there was in times fast a seer, a shining light with his forbearance.[15] Him as he stood firm in his forbearance did the king of Kāśi slay.

Bitter was the ripened fruit of this cruel deed since, as you know, that king of Kāśi was consigned to hell.

(361) So be forbearing,[16] as Kṣāntivādin the seer was. For though his limbs were cut off he was not wroth with any man.

And so Kalabha the king of Kāśi was burnt with fire and he was reborn in the great hell of Avīci.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Kalābu in J.

[2]:

See Vol., 1 p. 7.

[3]:

Okāra, Pali id. B.H.S.D. renders “elimination”, which, however, seems out of place between “peril” (bhaya) and “defilement” (saṅkileśa).

[4]:

Ānuśaṃsa. See Vol. 2, p. 337, n. 5, and B.H.S.D. s.v. anuśamsa.

[5]:

Tāvo antaḥpurikāvo. For the nom. acc. pl. in -āvo, not found outside the Mhvu., see Edgerton Gram. § 9. 93.

[6]:

Kṣāntivāda. This is followed in the text by nandatām, for which Senart can find no explanation or emendation. Can it be a corruption nandā(ī)dātā “giver of joy”? Analogous epithets of a king are plentiful. The word occurs several times in the sequel, and always in the seer’s replies to the king, where the corresponding Pali, just as one would expect, has mahārāja. Whatever the explanation of the word is, it would seem obvious that it denotes some appellation of a king. Hence “your majesty” in the translation.

[7]:

Reading apraduṣṭacitta for praduṣṭa-.

[8]:

Or “powers of nature”, bhūtā.

[9]:

Here an honorific appellation of the seer.

[10]:

prāgeva.

[11]:

If na ṛddhikartum labhyati is a final or consecutive clause, the omission of ca is strange. But the whole construction is doubtful owing to the uncertainty of the reading uttejema (caus. of uttij “to incite”).

[12]:

Kālavastu. Edgerton (B.H.S.D.) is inclined to adopt the suggestion of P.E.D. that this a corruption of tālavastu, Pali tālavatthu “destroyed utterly”.

[13]:

Text has the present tense.

[14]:

Vutta past. part, of tap, for upta.

[15]:

Kṣāntīya, instr. case.

[16]:

It would seem to be obvious that the fragmentary adhivā (followed by a lacuna) of Senart’s text is part of the adjective adhivāsaka or of the corresponding verb adhivāsayati. The adjective, though known in Pali, is not elsewhere found in BSk. and is not listed in B.H.S.D. But the verb adhivāsayati in both languages has the sense of “to endure” as well as that of “to consent”.

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