Tibetan tales (derived from Indian sources)

by W. R. S. Ralston | 1906 | 134,175 words

This page related the story of “the story of king mandhatar” from those tibetan tales (derived from Indian sources) found in the Kah-gyur (Kangyur or Kanjur). This represents part of the sacred Tibetan canon of Buddhist literature. Many of such stories correspond to similar legends found in the West, or even those found in Polynesia.

Chapter 1 - The story of king Māndhātar

[Source: Kah-gyur, vol. ii. pp. 169-180. This Avadāna, of which Burnouf speaks in his “Introduction,” p. 79, is contained in the eighteenth chapter of the Divyāvadāna. As there are many gaps in the Sanskrit manuscript to which I had access, I have thought it best to keep to the more complete recension existing in the Kah-gyur.—S.]

In olden days, when the life of man was of unlimited duration, lived King Utpoṣadha. On the crown of his head grew a very soft tumour, somewhat resembling a cushion of cotton or wool, without doing him any harm. When it had become quite ripe and had broken, there came forth from it a boy, shapely and handsome and gracious, perfect in every limb and joint, with a skin the colour of gold, a head like a canopy, long arms, a broad forehead, interlacing eyebrows, and a body provided with the thirty-two signs of a Mahāpuruṣa.[1] Immediately after his birth he was taken into the apartments of the women; and when King Utpoṣadha’s eighty thousand wives saw him, milk began to flow from their breasts, and each of the women cried out, “Let him suck me! let him suck me!”[2] Wherefore he received the name of Māndhātar.[3] Some of them thought that, as he came into life out of the crown of a head, he ought to the name of Mūrdhaja (crown-born); consequently the name Māndhātar is known to some, and that of Mūrdhaja to others.

The young Māndhātar passed through a space of six Śakra-evanescences[4] during his boyhood, and an equal length of time after he was appointed crown prince. Once, while Prince Māndhātar was absent on a journey, King Utpoṣadha fell ill. As he became still worse, although he was treated with medicines from roots, stems, leaves, blossoms, and fruits, he ordered the ministers to invest the prince with sovereign power. In accordance with the king’s orders, they sent word to the prince that King Utpoṣadha was ill, and had determined to summon him in order to invest him with sovereignty; it was meet, therefore, that he should come quickly. Soon after the messenger had set out King Utpoṣadha died. Thereupon the ministers sent another messenger with the tidings that the prince’s father was dead, and that he ought now to come in order to assume the regal power. But Prince Māndhātar was of opinion that, as his father was dead, there could be no use in his going, and he remained where he was. The ministers again assembled and sent a minister as messenger. When he came to the prince and invited him to assume the sovereign power, Māndhātar said, “If in accordance with the law I acquire the power, the investiture therein ought to take place here.”

The ministers sent to say, “O king, as there are many things which are needed for a regal investiture, such as a jewel-strewing,[5] a throne, a canopy, a fillet, and armlets, and as the consecration must take place in the palace, therefore it is necessary that the prince should come here.”

He replied, “If the power comes to me in accordance with the law, then will all these things come here.”

The Yakṣa Divaukasa, who ran in front of Prince Māndhātar, brought the throne and the jewel-strewing, the inmates of the palace brought the canopy, the fillet, and the armlets. As the inmates of the palace came themselves, the place received the name of Sāketa.[6] When after this the ministers, the commander-in-chief, and the town and country people had drawn nigh unto the prince for the consecration, they said. “O king, be pleased to receive the consecration.”

He replied, “Shall men, forsooth, lay the fillet on me? If I acquire the power according to law, the fillet shall be laid on me by demons.”[7]

Thereupon the fillet was laid upon him by demons. Moreover the seven treasures were revealed,[8] namely, the treasure of the wheel, the treasure of the elephant, the treasure of the horse, the treasure of the gem, the treasure of the wife, the treasure of the householder, and, as the seventh, the treasure of the minister. Also there fell to his share fully a thousand sons, heroic, sturdy, endowed with the beauty of splendid bodies, victorious over hosts of foes.

In the neighbourhood of Vaiśālī there was a dense forest of a delightful aspect, in which five hundred hermits endowed with the five kinds of insight[9] had abandoned themselves to contemplation; and in this dense forest there dwelt also a great number of cranes. Now, as noise is a hindrance to contemplation, and the cranes made a noise as they flew, one of these Rishis became angry, and uttered a curse to the effect that the cranes’ wings should be enfeebled. So, in consequence of the cranes having irritated the Rishis, their wings became feeble, and they took to going about, walking on their feet. The king, as he went afield, saw the cranes walking about in this way, and asked the ministers why the cranes went afoot. The ministers replied, “O king, as noise is a hindrance to contemplation, the Rishis in their wrath have cursed the cranes. On that account, in consequence of the anger of the Rishis, the cranes’ wings have grown weak.”

The king said, “Can they be Rishis who are so pitiless towards living creatures? Go to them, sirs, and tell them in my name that they shall not remain in my realm.”

The ministers executed his commands. The Rishis reflected that the king had power over the four quarters of the world, and they determined to betake themselves to the slopes of Sumeru. So they went away and settled there.

As King Māndhātar’s subjects were thinkers, scanners, and testers, and as in the course of thinking, scanning, and testing they took to cultivating various arts and industries, they obtained the designation of the Wise. Now they occupied themselves with field-labour. When the king, as he went afield one day, saw them engaged in field-labour, he asked the ministers what those men were doing. The ministers replied, “O king, in order that they may obtain refreshment, they produce corn and so forth.” The king said, “What! do men practise husbandry in my realm? Let the deity send down a rain of seven-and-twenty kinds of seed.” No sooner had King Māndhātar conceived this idea than the deity sent down a rain of twenty-seven kinds of seed. When the king asked the people of his realm to whose merits this occurrence was due, they replied, “To the king’s merits, as well as also to our own.”

Later on, men took to tilling cotton-fields. When King Māndhātar saw this as he went afield, he asked the ministers what those men were doing. The ministers replied, “O king, they are tilling cotton-fields.” The king asked what was the use of that. They answered that it was done for the purpose of producing clothes. Then said the king, “What! shall the men of my country till cotton-fields? Let the deity send down a rain of cotton.” No sooner had King Māndhātar conceived this idea than the deity let a rain of cotton fall. When the king asked the people of his realm to whose merits this occurrence was due, they replied, “To the king’s merits, as well as also to our own.”

Afterwards these men began to spin cotton, and the king asked what they were doing. The ministers replied, “O king, they are spinning cotton in order to procure thread.” The king said, “What! are the people in my realm spinning thread? Let the deity send down a rain of cotton thread.” No sooner had King Māndhātar conceived this idea than the deity sent down a rain of cotton thread. The king asked to whose merits this occurrence was due. The answer was, “To the king’s merits, as well as also to our own.”

After this, when they gradually began to weave cotton, the king asked what they were doing. The answer was, “O king, they are weaving cotton in order to obtain raiment.” The king said to himself, “What! shall the men of my realm weave cotton? Let the deity send down a rain of raiment.” No sooner had King Māndhātar conceived this idea than the deity sent down a rain of raiment. The king asked to whose merits this occurrence was due. The answer was, “To the king’s merits, as well as also to our own.”

The king thought, “These men are ignorant of the power of my merits. I possess Jambudvīpa, the vast, rich, prosperous, fruitful realm, abounding in men and living creatures. I possess the seven treasures, the treasures of the wheel, of the elephant, of the horse, of the gem, of the wife, of the householder, and, seventhly, of the minister. I possess a complete thousand of hold, heroic sons, endowed with the beauty of splendid limbs, entirely victorious over opponents. Now, then, let a rain of precious stones fall within my palace, but not so much as a single piece of money outside.”

Scarcely had this idea occurred to King Māndhātar when there began to fall within his palace a rain of precious stones which lasted for seven days, while outside not so much as a single piece of money fell. So King Māndhātar, like a being who has acquired great power and supernatural force by means of virtue and merit, enjoyed the fruits of his merits. The king asked to whose merits this was due. The reply was, “To the merits of the king.” Then the king said, “Honoured sirs, ye have been in the wrong. If ye had said that all these things took place on account of the merits of the king, I should have caused a rain of precious stones to fall over the whole of Jambudvīpa, and each of you who wanted gems would have had as many as he wished.”

During this inauguration of King Māndhātar’s rule six Śakra-evanescences passed away. Then King Māndhātar asked his runner, the Yakṣa Divaukasa, “Is there not some part of the world as yet unsubdued by me which I could subdue?”

Divaukasa replied, “O king, there is the dvīpa named Pūrvavideha, which is vast, rich, prosperous, fruitful, and replete with many men and living creatures. Thither might the king go and rule.”

Then King Māndhātar reflected that he was in possession of the rich and so forth Jambudvīpa, that he possessed the seven treasures, that of the wheel and so forth, that he had a full thousand of heroic sons, that a rain of precious stones had fallen inside his palace for seven whole days, and that he now heard that there existed a part of the world called Pūrvavideha; so he determined that he would go thither and rule over it also. Scarcely had the king entertained this idea when, surrounded by his thousand sons, and accompanied by an army eighteen koṭi[10] strong, he rose heavenward and betook himself to Pūrvavidehadvīpa. There, like a being who has acquired great power and supernatural force by means of virtue and merit, he ruled, enjoying the fruits of his merits, for many years, many hundreds, many thousands, many hundreds of thousands of years. While he was ruling over Pūrvavidehadvīpa, six Śakra-evanescences passed away.

Afterwards King Māndhātar asked the Yakṣa Divaukasa whether there existed any other dvīpas not as yet rendered subject to him. Divaukasa replied that there still remained a dvīpa called Aparagodānīya, vast, rich, prosperous, fruitful, replete with many men and living creatures, and that the king should go thither and reign therein. Then King Māndhātar reflected that he possessed the rich and so forth Jambudvīpa, that a rain of precious stones had fallen within his palace for the space of seven days, that he had come to Pūrvavidehadvīpa, and ruled there during many years, many hundreds, many thousands, many hundreds of thousands of years, and that as he now heard that there existed another dvīpa, called Aparagodānīya, he would go there also and rule over it too. Scarcely had King Māndhātar entertained this idea when he rose heavenward, surrounded by his thousand sons, accompanied by a host eighteen koṭi strong. Having reached Aparagodānīya, he tarried therein; and like a being who has acquired great power and supernatural force by means of virtue and merit, enjoying the fruits of his deserts, he ruled in Aparagodānīya for many years, many hundreds, many thousands, many hundreds of thousands of years. While he was ruling in Aparagodānīya, six Śakra-evanescences passed away.

Afterwards King Māndhātar asked the Yakṣa Divaukasa whether there remained any other dvīpa not yet subjected to him. Divaukasa replied that there was another dvīpa called Uttarakuru, vast, rich, prosperous, fruitful, replete with many men and living creatures, the inhabitants of which were still unsubdued and independent, and that he ought to go there and rule over his hosts. Thereupon King Māndhātar reflected that he possessed the vast, rich, and so forth Jambudvīpa, that a rain of precious stones had fallen within his palace for the space of seven days, that he had ruled in Pūrvavidehadvīpa for many years, many hundreds, many thousands, many hundreds of thousands of years, and that he had done likewise in Aparagodānīya, and that he now heard that there also existed a dvīpa called Uttarakuru, vast, rich, prosperous, fruitful, replete with many men and living creatures, the inhabitants of which region were as yet unsubdued and independent, and that it was meet for him to go there and rule his hosts. Scarcely had King Māndhātar entertained this idea when he rose heavenwards, surrounded by his thousand sons, accompanied by an army eighteen koṭi strong, his seven treasures having been sent on in front. On one side of Sumeru he saw several white spots. Having remarked them, he asked the Yakṣa Divaukasa what those white spots were. “O king,” replied the Yakṣa, “what you see is the rice grown without ploughing or sowing by the inhabitants of Uttarakuru. As they enjoy this rice without having ploughed or sown, so will you, O king, when you have arrived there, enjoy this rice which grows without ploughing or sowing.” King Māndhātar spoke about this to his ministers, saying, “Have ye, O chieftains, seen the white spots?”

“Yes!”

“O chieftains, they are formed by the rice which the inhabitants of Uttarakuru obtain without ploughing or sowing. As the inhabitants of Uttarakuru enjoy this rice which grows without ploughing or sowing, so will ye also enjoy it when ye have arrived there.”

King Māndhātar afterwards saw from afar some garland-like trees of various colours planted on one side of Sumeru. Having remarked them, he asked the Yakṣa Divaukasa what were these garland-like trees of various colours. “O king, these are the wishing-trees of the inhabitants of Utṭarakuru. The inhabitants of Uttarakuru clothe themselves with garments from the wishing-trees.”

When King Māndhātar heard this, he said to his ministers, “O chieftains, have you seen the garland-like trees of various colours planted over there?”

“Yes!”

“O chieftains, those are the wishing-trees that bear the garments with which the inhabitants of Uttarakuru clothe themselves. Ye also, when ye have arrived there, will clothe yourselves with garments from off the wishing-trees.”

King Māndhātar reached Uttarakuru, and there, enjoying the fruits of his deserts, like a being who has acquired great power and supernatural force through his virtue and merit, he ruled over his hosts for many years, many hundreds, many thousands, many hundreds of thousands of years. While he ruled over his hosts there, six Śakra-evanescences passed away.

Later on King Māndhātar asked the Yakṣa Divaukasa whether there still remained anywhere a dvīpa as yet unsubdued. Divaukasa said, “No, there is none. However, there are the thirty-tree gods, who, long-lived, endowed with beauty, and replete with bliss, perpetually abide in the lofty Vimāna palace. Be pleased, O king, to go thither in order to look upon the thirty-three gods.” Then King Māndhātar reflected that he possessed the vast, rich, prosperous, fruitful, and replete with many men and living beings Jambudvīpa, and that he possessed the seven treasures of the wheel and so forth, and that he had a full thousand of heroic sons, and that a rain of precious stones had fallen within his palace for the space of seven days, and that he had gone to Pūrvavidehadvīpa and ḥad ruled there for many years, many hundreds, many thousands, many hundreds of thousands of years; and that he had gone on to Aparagodānīyadvīpa, and had there ruled for many years, for many hundreds, many thousands, many hundreds of thousands of years; and that he had moved forward to Uttarakurudvīpa, and there also had ruled over his hosts for many years, many hundreds, many thousands, many hundreds of thousands of years; and that inasmuch as there were thirty-three gods, long-lived, endowed with beauty, and replete with bliss, perpetually abiding in the lofty Vimāna palace, therefore he would make his way thither in order to visit the thirty-three gods. Scarcely had this idea occurred to King Māndhātar when he arose, surrounded by his thousand sons, accompanied by an army eighteen koṭi strong, and proceeded heavenwards, sending his seven jewels on in front.

Sumeru, the monarch of mountains, is surrounded by seven mountains of gold. King Māndhātar tarried on Mount Nemindhara, and while he ruled over his hosts on Mount Nemindhara six Śakra-evanescences passed away. Thence he betook himself to the golden mountain Aśvakarṇa. While he ruled over his hosts there six Śakra-evanescences passed away. From Mount Aśvakarṇa he went to the golden mountain Sudarśana, and while he ruled over his hosts there six Śakra-evanescences passed away. From Mount Sudarśana he went to the golden mountain Khadiraka, and while he ruled over his hosts there six Śakra-evanescences passed away. From Mount Khadiraka he went to the golden mountain Iśādhāra, and while he ruled over his hosts there six Śakra-evanescences passed away. From Mount Iśādhāra he went to the golden mountain Yugandhara, and while he ruled over his hosts there six Śakra-evanescences passed away.

When he left Mount Yugandhara, taking his course heavenwards, the five hundred Rishis, who now dwelt on one of the slopes of Sumeru, saw him coming, and they said, “Honoured sirs, here comes the worst of kings.” The Rishi Durmukha poured water into the palms of his hands, and flung it towards the host in order to stop it. Then the treasure of the minister, which went in front of the host, said to the Rishis, “O Brahmans, cease to be angry. This is one who is everywhere victorious. This is King Māndhātar. It is not a case of cranes.” Now when King Māndhātar came up to that spot, he asked who had stopped the army. The treasure of the minister replied that the Rishis had done so. The king asked what those Rishis delighted in. The minister replied, “In their matted hair.”[11] The king said, “Then let it fall. And as for themselves, let them go on in front of me.” Thereupon their matted hair fell, and they themselves began to move on in front of him, their hands grasping bows and arrows. Then the treasure of the wife said to the king, “O king, these Rishis are practising austerities; you ought to let them go free.” So the king let them go free; and when they had again betaken themselves to their works of penance they became possessed of the five kinds of insight.

But King Māndhātar ascended higher together with his hosts. Now Sumeru, the monarch of mountains, plunged 80,000 yojanas[12] deep into the golden soil and soared aloft 80,000 yojanas above the waters, so its height was 160,000 yojanas. Each side also measured 80,000 yojanas, so that its circumference was 360,000 yojanas. Formed of four kinds of jewels, it was beautiful and splendid to look upon. On its summit dwelt the thirty-three gods. The five defences of the thirty-three gods were the water-inhabiting Nāgas, the dish-bearing Yakṣas, the garland-wearing and the ever-elevated gods, and the four Mahārājas. The water-inhabiting Nāgas stopped King Māndhātar’s host. When King Māndhātar came up he asked who had stopped his host. The answer was, “O king, the water-inhabiting Nāgas have stopped it.” The king said, “Shall animals wage war with me? These water-inhabiting Nāgas shall themselves be my advanced guard.” Then the Nāgas marched along in front of King Māndhātar.

Ās the Nāgas marched along in front of the king they reached the abode of the dish-bearing gods, who said, “Honoured sirs, wherefore are ye on the move?” The Nāgas replied, “The king of men is coming here.” Then the Nāgas and the dish-bearing gods turned round and stopped the host. When King Māndhātar came up he asked who had stopped his host. The answer was, “O king, these dish-bearing gods have stopped it.” King Māndhātar said, “Let the dish-bearing gods themselves march in front of me.” Thereupon they began to move onwards.

They and the Nāgas reached the abode of the garlandwearing gods, who asked them why they were on the move. They replied, “The king of men is coming here.” Thereupon these gods and the Nāgas turned round and tried to stop the host. When the king came up he asked who had stopped his army. The answer was, “O king, the garland-wearing gods have stopped it.” The king said, “Let these garland-wearing gods themselves march in front of me.” Thereupon they began to move along in front.

As they proceeded they reached the abode of the everelevated gods,[13] who asked why they were on the move. They replied, “The king of men is coming here.” Thereupon they turned round and stopped the host. When the king came up he asked who had stopped the host. He was told that the ever-elevated gods had stopped it. The king said, “Let the ever-elevated gods march in front of me.” Thereupon they began to move onwards.

When they reached the abode of the four Mahārājas, and were asked by them why they were on the move, they said, “The king of men is coming here.” The gods of the region of the four Mahārājas reflected that this must be a being endowed with great force of merit, and that they must not venture to impede him. Thereupon they informed the gods of the region of the thirty-three gods that the king of men was coming. The gods of the region of the thirty-three gods reflected that this must be a being endowed with great force of merit, and that, therefore, they ought not to repel him, but should receive him with honour. So the thirty-three gods received him with honour.

When king Māndhātar had ascended to the summit of Sumeru he saw a blue forest tract rising aloft like a tower of cloud, and he asked the Yakṣa Divaukasa what it was. The Yakṣa replied, “Those are the divine trees Pārijātaka and Kovidāra, under which the thirty-three gods, captivated and enchained by the five divine pleasures of sense, do sport, rejoice, and enjoy themselves throughout the four summer months. You also, O king, when you have arrived there, captivated by the five divine pleasures of sense, will sport, rejoice, and enjoy yourself.” When King Māndhātar heard this, he asked his ministers if they had seen those tall blue trees which rose aloft like a tower of cloud, and when they replied that they had seen them, he said, “O chieftains, those trees are Pārijātaka and Kovidāra, the trees of the thirty-three gods, under which the thirty-three gods, captivated by the five divine pleasures of sense, do sport, rejoice, and enjoy themselves during the four summer months. Ye also, O chieftains, on arriving there, captivated by the five pleasures of sense, shall sport, rejoice, and enjoy yourselves.”

Afterwards King Māndhātar perceived on the summit of Sumeru something white, which rose aloft like an accumulated mass of cloud, and he asked the Yakṣa Divaukasa what it was. “O king,” was the reply, “that is the meeting-place of the thirty-three gods, and it is named Sudharmā. There the thirty-three gods and the four Mahārājas meet together, and there they view, scan, and test the affairs of gods and men. Into that place you also, O king, will enter.” On hearing this, King Māndhātar asked his ministers if they had seen the white mass which rose aloft like an accumulation of clouds, and when they had answered affirmatively, he said, “O chieftains, that is the meeting-place of the thirty-three gods and the four Mahārājas, Sudharmā by name. There the thirty-three gods and the four Mahārājas meet together, and view, scan, and test the affairs of gods and men. Thither, O chieftains, will ye also make your way.”

Sudarśana, the city of the thirty-three gods, was 2500 yojanas in length and as many in breadth, and its circumference was 10,000 yojanas. It was surrounded by seven rows of golden walls, which were two and a half yojanas high. These walls had quadruple cornices of gold, silver, beryl, and crystal, and windows were set in them above and below. The space lying inside the city of Sudarśana was fair to see, pleasant, extensive, and copiously variegated with a hundred colours, and the ground was soft, extremely soft, like a cushion of cotton or wool, yielding to the pressure of the foot, rising again when the foot was lifted, and covered knee-deep with divine mandārava [or coral-tree] flowers; when a wind arose, the faded blossoms were swept- away and a rain of fresh flowers descended. The city of Sudarśana had 999 gates, and at each gate were stationed 500 Yakṣas arrayed in blue robes and coats of mail, and armed with bows and arrows, to serve as a guard and defence for the thirty-three gods, and also as an ornament. The market-place of Sudarśana, which was 2500 yojanas long and twelve broad, was fair to see, pleasant, strewn with golden sand, sprinkled with sandalwood water, covered over with gold trellis-work. On every side were to be seen water basins of various kinds, formed of cubes of four sorts, of gold, silver, beryl, and crystal. The steps of these basins were formed of four materials, of gold, silver, beryl, and crystal. The basins were surrounded by balustrades of four kinds, made of gold, silver, beryl, and crystal. The uprights, borders, and handles of the golden balustrades were made of silver; those of the silver balustrades were made of gold those of the beryl balustrades were made of crystal, and those of the crystal balustrades were made of beryl. These basins were full of water which was cool and honey-sweet, were set thick with blue, red, and white lotuses, and replete with many water-haunting birds of beautiful form, which gave agreeable utterance to charming sounds. All around these basins grew blossoming and fruit-bearing trees of beauteous form and stately growth, adorned with wreaths, as when an adroit chaplet-maker or his pupil, in order to form an ornament for the ears, has deftly woven a garland of flowers. On land, likewise, birds of various kinds, all of beauteous form, agreeably uttered charming sounds.

In the city of Sudarśana were many wishing-trees, on which four kinds of raiment grew, blue, yellow, red, and white. Whatever garments were desired by the gods or the daughters of the gods were obtained by them as soon as the idea came into their minds. From the four kinds of ornament-trees came ornaments for the hand and foot, ornaments to be worn out of sight on the lower parts of the body, and ornaments intended for the eye. Whatever the sons or daughters of the gods wished for, that thing came into their hands as soon as they had expressed their wish. Four kinds of musical instruments, harps, pipes, guitars, and shells, did the gods and the daughters of the gods hold in their hands as soon as they wished for them. Four kinds of divine food, blue, yellow, red, and white, did the gods and the daughters of the gods obtain as soon as they wished for them. Storied houses provided with summer chambers, courts, windows, and peepholes, formed meeting-places for troops of women and Apsaras. There to the sound of music, with drink made of honey and from the kadamba tree, the thirty-three gods played, rejoiced, and took delight, enjoying the fruits of their merits. The meeting-hall of the thirty-three gods, Sud-harmā by name, which was 300 yojanas long, 300 broad, and 900 in circumference, was beautiful, charming, exquisite to look upon, formed of crystal, and rising above the city to a height of 342 yojanas. In it were arranged the seats of the thirty-three gods, those of the thirty-two under-kings, and the seat of Śakra, the king of the thirty-three gods. King Māndhātar’s seat was prepared for him at the end of all these seats. The thirty-three gods received King Māndhātar with a gift of honour. Then there entered in by ranks those beings who had acquired great power by the maturity of their merits, the others remaining without. King Māndhātar said to himself, “Of the seats which are here arranged, mine is undoubtedly the last.” And he came to the conclusion that Śakra, the king of the gods, ought to give up to him half of his own seat. No sooner had he conceived this idea than Śakra the king of the gods gave up to him half of his seat, and King Māndhātar shared the seat with the king of the gods. Now when the great King Māndhātar and Śakra the king of the gods sat on the same seat, it was impossible to see in either of them, whether in length or breadth, in voice or in fulness of aspect, any difference from the other, any distinction or any pre-eminence, except that Śakra the king of the gods never closed his eyes. While King Māndhātar tarried among the thirty-three gods, thirty-six Śakra-evanescences passed away.

While he was there a war broke out between the gods and the Asuras. When the Asuras were defeated, they closed the gates of the Asura city and occupied the bulwarks round about. And when the gods were defeated, they in like manner closed the gates of the divine city, and occupied its bulwarks round about. Now it came to pass that the Asuras, having equipped a fourfold army, had already broken through the five defences, and were drawing nigh unto the king of the gods, Śakra, in warlike array. The Yakṣas said to the king of the gods, Śakra, “Know, O Kauśika, that the Asuras have broken through the five bulwarks and are near at hand. Be pleased, therefore, to accomplish all that ought to be done and prepared.” Now when Śakra, the king of the gods, had equipped a fourfold army and was setting out to wage war against the Asuras, King Māndhātar turned towards him and said, “Stay here; I will take the field myself.” Śakra replied, “Let that be done.” Then the king arose heavenward with an army eighteen koṭi strong, and caused his bowstring to clang. When the Asuras heard this sound, they asked whose bowstring it was that was thus clanging. Being told that the sound was the clang of King Māndhātar’s bowstring, they were greatly astounded. King Māndhātar arrived, and the war-chariots of the contending gods and Asuras rose high into the air. As, in accordance with the ordering of things, no superiority or inferiority was to be found on either side, King Māndhātar soared behind all the Asuras towards heaven. The Asuras asked, “Who is this who has soared above us towards heaven?” Being told that it was Māndhātar, the king of men, they reflected that, as he had risen above their chariots, he must be a being who had attained to the glory of great power through the fulness of his merits; and overcome, full of fear and trembling, they turned their backs and withdrew into the stronghold of the Asuras.

When King Māndhātar inquired who had gained the day, the ministers answered that he was the conqueror. Then King Māndhātar came to the conclusion that he was superior to the thirty-three gods. He reflected that he possessed the vast, rich, prosperous, fruitful Jambudvīpa, replete with men and living creatures; that he possessed Pūrvavidehadvīpa, Aparagodānīyadvīpa, and Uttaraku-rudvīpa; that he was the owner of the seven treasures, the treasure of the wheel, the treasure of the elephant, the treasure of the horse, the treasure of the wife, the treasure of the householder, and, seventhly, the treasure of the minister; that he had a full thousand of heroic, sturdy sons, endowed with the beauty of splendid bodies, victorious over hosts of foes; that a rain of precious stones had fallen within his palace for the space of seven days; that he had made his way to the abode of the thirty-three gods; that he had entered into Sudharmā, the meeting-place of the gods, and that the king of the gods, Śakra, had ceded to him the half of his seat; and he came to the conclusion that he must expel the king of the gods, Śakra, from his seat, and take into his own hands the government of both gods and men.

As soon as he had conceived this idea the great King Māndhātar came to the end of his good fortune. On his return to Jambudvīpa he was attacked by a violent illness, and amid intolerable agonies he drew nigh unto death. His ministers and other state officials, the astrologers and workers of cures by spells, betook themselves to him and addressed him thus: “When the king shall have passed away hence, it may be that the subsequent inhabitants of the kingdom will inquire what King Māndhātar said at the time of his death. What shall we say to them in reply?”

“O chieftains, when in time to come, after my departure, men shall draw nigh unto you and ask you that question, then shall ye give them this answer: ‘O sirs, King Māndhātar, who possessed the seven treasures, who with a fourfold host of men acquired power over the four dvīpas, and made his way to the abode of the thirty-three gods, is said to have died before he had obtained satisfaction through the fivefold pleasures of sense.’”

Moreover he pronounced these ślokas:[14]

“Even by a rain of gold pieces will wishes not be satisfied. The wise man, he who knows that wishes bring but little enjoyment and much sorrow, takes no delight even in divine enjoyments. The hearer of the perfected Buddha rejoices when desire fails. Even if a mountain of gold were like unto Himavant, yet it would not suffice for the wealth of a single individual; that the discerning one knows full well. He who observes sorrows, starting from this base, how can he take pleasure in enjoyments? He who is steady, who has learnt to recognise the thorn in the treasures of the world, will learn the essence of things to his own correction.”

King Māndhātar ordered irresistible sacrifices to be offered, and he said in ślokas:—

“If one knows that the future lasts long but life is only brief, then ought one to acquire merits. If one does not acquire merits, then one has sorrow. Therefore must he who is acquiring merits offer sacrificial gifts, as is fitting. In this world and in the future will he, if he offer up gifts, obtain happiness.”

The inhabitants of the town and country heard that King Māndhātar had fallen ill and was nigh unto death. Having learnt this, many hundreds of thousands of men assembled in order to see King Māndhātar. The king spoke to the multitudes upon the evil of lust and the ills of house-life, and then condemned desire. Thereupon many hundreds of thousands of men renounced house-life, retired from the world to the Rishis, and lived in the forest, fulfilling the four duties of Brahmans, and abandoning all striving after enjoyment. Persevering in this, they became participators in the world of Brahma.

While King Māndhātar was in his boyhood, while he was crown prince, while he exercised supreme power in Jambudvīpa, while he lived in the dvīpas of Pūrvavideha, Aparagodānīya, and Uttarakuru, and on the seven golden mountains, and while he dwelt in the region of the thirty-three gods to which he went, eighty-four Śakra-evanescences passed away. The measure of life of Śakra, the prince of the five great kings, is as follows:—One hundred years of men represent one day of the thirty-three gods. If thirty such days are reckoned as one month, and twelve months as one year, then the measure of life of the thirty-three gods is a hundred divine years. According to human reckoning, that amounts to 3,600,000).[15]

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Mahāpuruṣa is “a great man, eminent personage, great saint or sage, great ascetic, &c.”

[2]:

Mān dhāyatu, mān dhāyatu.—S.

[3]:

A different account is given in the Viṣṇupurāna, on which see Lassen, Ind. Alt. (1st edition), Anhang I. p. v. note 7. The derivation of the name from the root dhā calls to mind the attempt to recognise in Athene “the unsuckled one.” Cf. Eusthatius on the Iliad, p. 83 (p. 71 of the Leipsic edition), and Pott, Etymolog. Forschungen, Wurzelworterbuch, I. i. p. 180.—S.

[4]:

An account of the duration of Śakra’s life is given at the end of this tale.

[5]:

Edelstein-streu is Professor Schiefner’s rendering of the Tibetan word which appears to represent the jewels which were to be scattered at the coronation.

[6]:

See Böhtlingk-Roth on Kati. Sāketa is a name of Ayodhyā or ancient Oude.—S.

[7]:

Amanuṣya,—S.

[8]:

For a full account of these seven treasures, see Rhys Davids’ Hibbert Lectures, pp. 130-134.

[9]:

Klarsichten is Professor Schiefner’s rendering of the Tibetan equivalent of the Pali word Abhiññā. Mr. Rhys Davids has kindly sent me the following explanation:—“There are five such Abhiññās, which are five kinds of insight or intuitive perception; that is, the intuitive perception of five classes of things.”

[10]:

A koṭi is equal to ten millions.

[11]:

The word employed by Professor Schiefner is Flechten.

[12]:

“A yojana is four leagues.”—Rhys Davids’s “Buddhist Birth-Stories,” p. 35.

[13]:

An account of these various divinities is given by M. Eugène Burnouf in his “Introduction à l’Histoire du Buddhisme Indien” (1876, pp. 180, 535-557). With respect to the “ever-elevated” (or, to use Professor Schiefner’s expression, “die stets betrunkenen”) gods, he says(p. 538): “Le troisièmeétage est le séjour des êtres qu’on nomme, suivant Georgi, ‘buveurs et stupides,’ et qui ont en tibetain le nom de Rtag myos. Ces deux mono-syllabes se traduisent littéralement par ‘continuellement enivres,’ et cette interpretation s’accorde bien avec la notion que Georgi nous donne de ces dieux.”

[14]:

Cf. Dhammapada, śl. 186, &c.—S.

[15]:

This number, in the German text, is given as 36,000; but that is probably a misprint. The German word which is here rendered by “evanescences” is Schwunde. It appears to define the period at the end of which Śakra’s life comes temporarily to a close. For a different computation of the length of Śakra’s life, see Hardy’s “Manual of Buddhism,” p. 25. “The déwa-lóka of Sekra or Indra, on the summit of Maha Méru, in which one day is equal to 100 of the years of men; and as they live 1000 of these years, their age is equal to 36,000,000 of the years of men.”

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