Tibetan tales (derived from Indian sources)

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

This page related the story of “the story of vishakha” 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 7 - The story of Viśākha

[Source: Kah-gyur, iii. 71*-80*. Cf. Benfey, Ausland, 1859, p. 487, “Die kluge Dime;” Spence Hardy, Manual of Buddhism, pp. 220-227, 364.—S.]

Mṛgadhara, the first minister of King Prasenajit of Kośala, after he had married a wife of birth like unto his own, had seven sons. To six of these he gave names at his pleasure, but the youngest one he called Viśākha.

After his wife’s death he arranged marriages for his six elder sons, but they and their wives gave themselves up to dress, and troubled themselves in no wise with household affairs.

The householder Mṛgadhara was sitting one day absorbed in thought, resting his cheek upon his arm. A Brahman, who was on friendly terms with him, saw him sitting thus absorbed in thought, and asked him what was the cause of his behaviour. He replied, “My sons and their wives have given themselves up to dress, and do not trouble themselves about household affairs, so that the property is going to ruin.”

“Why do you not arrange a marriage for Viśākha?”

“Who can tell whether he will make things better, or bring them to still greater ruin?”

“If you will trust to me, I will look for a maiden for him.”

The minister consented, and the Brahman went his way. In the course of his researches he came to the land of Campā. In it there lived a householder named Bala-mitra, whose daughter Viśākha was fair to see, well proportioned, in the bloom of youth, intelligent and clever. Just as the Brahman arrived, she and some other girls who were in quest of amusement were setting out for a park. On seeing the girls, he thought that he would like to look at them a little. So he followed slowly after them, occupied in regarding them. The girls, who were for the most part of a frivolous nature, sometimes ran, sometimes skipped, sometimes rolled about, sometimes laughed, sometimes spun round, sometimes sang, and did other undignified things. But Viśākhā, with the utmost decorum, at an even pace walked slowly along with them. When they came to the park, the other girls undressed at the edge of the tank, entered into it, and began to sport. But Viśākhā lifted up her clothes by degrees as she went into the water, and by degrees let them down again as she came out of the water, so circumspect was she in her behaviour. After their bath, when the girls had assembled at a certain spot, they first partook of food themselves, and then gave to their attendants to eat; but Viśākhā first of all gave food to the persons in attendance, and then herself began to eat.

When the girls had finished their eating and drinking and had enjoyed the charm of the park, they went away. As there was water to be waded through on the road, the girls took off their boots and walked through it, but Viśākhā kept her boots on. They went a little farther and came to a wood. Into this Amra wood she entered, keeping her parasol up, though the others had discarded theirs. Presently a wind arose together with rain, and the other girls took shelter in a temple, but Viśākhā remained in the open air. The Brahman, who had followed her, and had noted her characteristics and her behaviour, marvelled greatly and began to question her, saying—

“O maiden, whose daughter are you?”

“I am Balamitra’s daughter.”

“O maiden, be not angry if I ask you a few questions.”

She smiled at first, and then said, “O uncle, why should 1 be angry? Please to ask them.”

“While these girls, as they went, were all running, skipping, rolling, turning round, singing, and doing other undignified things, you wended your way slowly, decorously, and in a seemly manner, reaching the park together with them.”

Viśākhā replied, “All girls are a merchandise which their parents vend. If in leaping or rolling I were to break an arm or a leg, who then would woo me? I should certainly have to be kept by my parents as long as I lived.”

“Good, O maiden; I understand.”

He said to her next, “These girls took off their clothes at a certain place, and went into the water and sported in it unclothed, but you lifted up your clothes by degrees as you went deeper into the water.”

“O uncle, it is necessary that women should be shamefaced and shy, and so it would not be well that any one should look upon me unclothed.”

“O maiden, who would see you there?”

“O uncle, you would have seen me there yourself.”

“Good, O maiden; that also I comprehend.”

He said to her further, “These girls first took food themselves and then gave to the persons in attendance; but you first gave food to the persons in attendance, and then took your own.”

“O uncle, that was for this reason: we, reaping the fruits of our merits, constantly have feast-days; but they, reaping the fruits of their trouble, very seldom obtain great things.”

“Good, O maiden; I comprehend this also.”

He asked her, moreover, “While all the world wears boots on dry land, why did you keep yours on in the water?”

“O uncle, the world is foolish. It is precisely when one is in water that one should wear boots.”

“For what reason?”

“On dry land one can see tree-stems, thorns, stones, prickles, fragments of fish-scales or shells of reptiles, but in the water none of these things can be seen. Therefore we ought to wear boots in the water and not upon dry land.”

“Good, O maiden; this also I understand.”

Then he asked her this question: “These girls kept their parasols up in the sun; you kept yours up in the wood under the shade of the trees. What was the meaning of that?”

“O uncle, the world is foolish. It is precisely when in a wood that one must keep a parasol up.”

“For what reason?”

“Because a wood is always full of birds and monkeys. The birds let fall their droppings and pieces of bones, and the monkeys their muck and scraps of the fruit they eat. Besides, as they are of a wild nature, they go springing from bough to bough, and bits of wood come falling down. When one is in the open this does not happen, or, if it takes place, it is but seldom. Therefore a parasol must be kept open in a wood; in the open it is not necessary to do so.”

“Good, O maiden; this also I comprehend.”

Presently he said, “These girls took refuge in a temple when the wind arose with rain, but you remained in the open air.”

“O uncle, one certainly ought to remain in the open air and not take refuge in a temple.”

“O maiden, what is the reason for that?”

“O uncle, such empty temples are never free from orphans, bastards, and sharpers. If one of them were to touch me on a limb or joint as I entered such a temple, would not that be unpleasant to my parents? Moreover, it is better to lose one’s life in the open than to enter an empty temple.”

Full of delight at the demeanour of the maiden, the Brahman betook himself to the dwelling of the householder Balamitra and said, desiring to obtain the maiden, “May it be well’ May it be good!”

The people of the bouse said, “O Brahman, it is not yet the time for asking; but what do you ask for?”

“I ask for your daughter.”

“On whose behalf?”

“On behalf of the son, Viśākha by name, of Mṛgadhara, the first minister of Śrāvastī.”

They replied, “It is true that we and he are of the same caste, but his country lies too far away.”

The Brahman said, “It is precisely in a far-away country that a man should choose a husband for his daughter.”

“How so?”

“If she is married in the neighbourhood, joy increases when news comes that she is prosperous; but if a misfortune occurs, a man’s property may be brought to nought, he being exhausted by gifts, sacrifices, and tokens of reverence.”

They said, “This being so, we will give our daughter.”

Thereupon the Brahman, having uttered a wish for a happy result, returned to Śrāvastī, and there, after recovering from the fatigue of the journey, went to see the minister, Mṛgadhara, and described to him the maiden’s youth, beauty, and intelligence, as well as her demeanour and manner of eating. Then he said, “With great toil have I wandered through many lands and cities, and with much trouble have I found her. Now go and fetch her.”

The first minister, Mṛgadhara, took note of the day and hour, and found that the stars were propitious. Then he set forth and fetched away Viśākhā with great pomp as his son’s spouse. The mother gave her daughter, when she was leaving for her husband’s land, the following counsel: “O daughter, always honour the sun and the moon, pay attention to the fire, wipe dirt off the mirror, and wear white clothes. You shall take but not give. You shall keep your word. When you rise up, you shall yield your place to none. You shall partake of savoury food. You shall sleep tranquilly. You shall apply a ladder.”

When Mṛgadhara heard this, he thought that the girl had received a quite wrong piece of advice, and that he must dissuade her from following it and give her proper directions. The loving mother, with troubled heart and eyes full of tears, embraced, her daughter, and said with sorrowful voice, “O daughter, this is the last time that I shall see you.”

Viśākhā replied by way of admonition, “O mother, were you born here? Is not the maiden rather born in the house of her relatives? Is that house your home? Is it not rather this one here? Although I was born here, I shall live there. As that which unites undoubtedly underlies separation, be pleased not to wail but rather to keep silence.”

After that Mṛgadhara went his way.

Viśākhā and her husband with the attendants from her house went on board a ship. Soon afterwards a mare which had thrown a foal was to be brought on board the ship. As it felt that its foal would be restless on land, it resisted, and could not be got on board. This gave rise to much noise. When Viśākhā heard it she asked what was the cause. Being told how it arose, she gave directions that the foal should be brought on board first, in which case the mare would follow of its own accord. Her orders were obeyed, and the mare went on board. Mṛgadhara asked the men why they had come so late.

“Because the mare would not come on board.”

“Then how was it induced to come?”

“It did so after the Campā maiden had told us how to manage, and we had embarked the foal before the mare.”

“The Campā maiden is wise.”

On their way, the travellers had on one occasion chosen their quarters for the night, and Mṛgadhara’s tent was pitched under the projecting part of a hill. When Viśākhā saw it she asked to whom it belonged. “To Mṛga-dhara,” was the reply. “Move it away from there,” she said. “Why should it be moved?” “Because,” she replied, “if the projecting part of the hill were to fall while he was asleep, he would certainly be crushed to death. Then I should all my life be exposed to the annoyance of having people say that my husband married a wife, whose father-in-law died on the way before she entered his house.”

After the bed had been moved away the projecting mass of the hill fell down. A great crowd came running together’, full of anxiety lest the householder should have been crushed. But he exclaimed, “Honoured sirs, here am I; be not afraid, but look after my bed.” “It has been removed,” was the reply. “Who did that?” he asked. “Viśākhā,” they replied. He said, “The Campā maiden is wise.”

Later on, when they had taken up their quarters in an old park, and Mṛgadhara’s couch had been prepared in an empty temple, Viśākhā saw it and asked whose it was. “That is the master’s couch,” was the reply. “Move it away,” she said. “Why so?” “Because,” she replied, “if the temple were to fall down he would be crushed to death, and trouble would come upon me.”

After the couch had been removed the temple fell down, and people came running up, and so forth as before.

By and by they reached Śrāvastī, and after they had recovered from the fatigues of the journey and presented ornaments to friends, relatives, and connections, Viśākhā began to attend to the domestic affairs of the family. Ās Mṛgadhara’s daughters-in-law took it in turns to look after the food for the household, Viśākhā received instructions to provide it on the seventh day. As the time drew near for her turn to come, she daily rolled into pellets and desiccated what remained over of the perfumes used by her husband and his parents. Of the powder which she thus each day obtained she took some out of the box; the rest she mixed with oil and divided it into equal portions. When her turn came next day, she took care that spirituous liquors were prepared, and she renewed the freshness of her own and her husband’s faded garlands. When the morning came, she bestowed upon the labourers oranges, perfumes, flowers, and meat and drink. They were greatly pleased, and thought that, after a long time, the householder’s old wife had looked after them. And in the course of the day they did a double amount of work.

When Mṛgadhara inspected the work towards evening and saw that much had been done, he asked if additional day-labourers had been employed. Being told that this was not the case, he asked what the reason was that a double amount of work had been accomplished. The reply was, “O master, as is the food so is the labour.” “What is the meaning of that?” he asked. Whereupon a full account was given to him of how everything had come to pass.

Mṛgadhara’s sons spoke about this to their wives, who said, “If we, like Viśākhā, were to steal things from the house and thereby give pleasure to the day-labourers, the master and the labourers would be pleased with us too.” Whereupon Mṛgadhara said to Viśākhā, “O daughter, in what manner did you prepare the food?” She told him all about it. Mṛgadhara was much pleased, asked her to manage the affairs of the household, and ordered all the people of the house to perform, according to Viśākhā’s wishes, whatsoever tasks she might allot to them. She thus became the mistress of the house, and as she was excellent in her behaviour and in her whole nature, all the people of the house rejoiced.

At another time it happened that some geese from Uttarakurudvīpa flew over the house, carrying rice which had grown without any ploughing or sowing having taken place. The geese in Rājagṛha saw them and cackled, and they in their turn cackled, not being able to subdue the force of instinct, so that some of the ears of rice fell on the roofs of Rājagṛha. The king distributed them among the ministers, and Mṛgadhara gave his share to Viśākhā. She placed them in a box and afterwards handed them over to the husbandmen. They were greatly pleased, and prepared a small field for them. And after it had been sowed with their seed at the fitting time and the deity had sent down rain, there grew up splendid rice, answering to the seed. Next year, moreover, they had a very abundant harvest, and in the following year a still more abundant one. Consequently all the granaries were filled with the rice brought by the geese.

When it came to pass that Prasenajit, the king of Kośala, was attacked by an illness, and all the physicians were summoned and consulted, they gave it as their opinion that if some of the rice brought by the geese could be found, and soup were to be made of it, and the king were to partake thereof, in that case he would recover. So the king called the ministers together, and asked them what they had done with the ears of rice which the geese had brought, and which he had given to them. Some of them said, “O king, we gave them to the temple;” and others, "We threw them into the fire;” or others, “We fastened them up in the vestibule.” But Mṛgadhara said, “I gave them to Viśākhā. I will inquire what she has done with them.” When he asked Viśākhā she replied, “O master, does some one wish to partake of the geese-brought rice?”

“As the king is ill, the doctors have prescribed for him the rice which the geese brought hither.”

Then Viśākhā filled a golden vase with the geese-brought rice and sent it to the king. The king ate thereof and recovered.

On another occasion some country folks came bringing a mare and her foal. As they could not tell which was the mare and which the foal, the king ordered the ministers to examine them closely, and to report to him on the matter. The ministers examined them both for a whole day, became weary, and arrived at no conclusion after all. When Mṛga-dhara went home in the evening, Viśākhā touched his feet and said, “O master, wherefore do ye return so late?” He told her everything that had occurred. Then Viśākhā said, “O master, what is there to investigate in that? Fodder should be laid before them in equal parts. The foal, after rapidly eating up its own share, will begin to devour its mother’s also; but the mother, without eating, will hold up her head like this. That is the proper test.”

Mṛgadhara told this to the ministers, who applied the test according to these instructions, and after daybreak they reported to the king, “This is the mother, O king, and that is the foal.” The king asked how they knew that.

“O king, the case is so and so.”

“How was it you did not know that yesterday?”

“O king, how could we know it? Viśākhā has instructed us since.”

Said the king, “The Campā maiden is wise.”

It happened that a man who was bathing had left his boots on the bank. Ānother man came up, tied the boots round his head, and began to bathe likewise. When the first man had done bathing and came out of the water, he missed the boots. The other man said, “Hey, man, what are you looking for?”

“My boots.”

“Where are your boots? When you have boots, you should tie them round your head, as I do, before going into the water.”

As a dispute arose between the two men as to whom the boots belonged to, they both had recourse to the king. The king told the ministers to investigate the case thoroughly, and to give the boots to the proper owner. The ministers began to investigate the case, and examined first the one man and then the other. Each of the men affirmed that he was the owner. While these assertions were being made, the day came to an end, and in the evening the ministers returned home wearied out, without having brought the matter to a satisfactory conclusion. Viśākhā questioned Mṛgadhara, and he told her all about it, whereupon she said, “O master, what is there to investigate? Say to one of them, ‘Take one of the boots, and to the other man, ‘Take the other boot.’ The real owner will say in that case, ‘Why should my two boots be separated?’ But the other, the man to whom they do not really belong, will say, ‘What good do I gain by this if I only get one boot?’ That is the proper test to apply.”

Mṛgadhara went and told this to the ministers, and so forth, as is written above, down to the words, “The king said, ‘The Campā maiden is wise.’”

It happened that some merchants brought a stem of sandal-wood to the king as a present, but no one knew which was the upper end of it and which the lower. So the king ordered his ministers to settle the question. They spent a whole day in examining the stem, but they could make nothing of it. In the evening they returned to their homes. Mṛgadhara again told Viśākhā all about the matter, and she said, “O master, what is there to investigate? Place the stem in water. The root end will then sink, but the upper end will float upwards. That is the proper test.”

Mṛgadhara communicated this to the ministers, and so forth, as is written above, down to the words, “The king said, ‘The Campā maiden is wise.’”

There was a householder in a hill-village who, after he had married in his own rank, remained without either son or daughter. As he longed earnestly for a child, he took unto himself a concubine. Thereupon his wife, who was of a jealous disposition, had recourse to a spell for the purpose of rendering that woman barren. But as that woman was quite pure, she became with child, and at the end of nine months bare a son. Then she reflected thus: “As the worst of all enmities is the enmity between a wife and a concubine, and the stepmother will be sure to seek for a means of killing the child, what ought my husband, what ought I to do? As I shall not be able to keep it alive, I had better give it to her.”

After taking counsel with her husband, who agreed with her in the matter, she said to the wife, “O sister, I give you my son; take him.” The wife thought, “As she who has a son ranks as the mistress of the house, I will bring him up.”

After she had taken charge of the boy the father died. A dispute arose between the two women as to the possession of the house, each of them asserting that it belonged to her. They bad recourse to the king. He ordered his ministers to go to the house and to make inquiries as to the ownership of the son. They investigated the matter, but the day came to an end before they had brought it to a satisfactory conclusion. In the evening they returned to their homes. Viśākhā again questioned Mṛgadhara, who told her everything. Viśākhā said, “What need is there of investigation? Speak to the two women thus: ‘As we do not know to which of you two the boy belongs, let her who is the strongest take the boy.’ When each of them has taken hold of one of the boy’s hands, and he begins to cry out on account of the pain, the real mother will let go, being full of compassion for him, and knowing that if her child remains alive she will be able to see it again; but the other, who has no compassion for him, will not let go. Then beat her with a switch, and she will thereupon confess the truth as to the whole matter. That is the proper test.”

Mṛgadhara told this to the ministers, and so forth, as is written above, down to the words, “The king said, ‘The Campā maiden is wise.’”

After a time Mṛgadhara fell ill. One day the physician gave him a remedy and he obtained relief. The next day the physician gave him something which was not a remedy, and he was the worse for it. Viśākhā thought, “Why does the minister find relief one day and on the next day feel worse?” So she examined the remedy which brought relief, and employed it again. Then she closed the door to the physicians and treated the patient herself. Whereupon he recovered. Mṛgadhara considered why it was that he had felt better one day and worse the next, and that now that no physician came he had recovered, so he asked Viśākhā, and so forth as before.

Prasenajit, king of Kośala, had an overseer of elephants named Śrīvardhana. The king reprimanded him one day. When Viśākhā heard of that she said to Mṛgadhara, “O master, it is right that Śrīvardhana should be pardoned.” He replied, “O daughter, do you bring about the pardon.” Thereupon she said to the king, “O king, Śrīvardhana has been guilty of an error. Be pleased to forgive him. The king forgave him.

“O king, if you forgive him, be pleased to restore him his position.”

The king did so. Śrīvardhana knew that he had Viśākhā to thank for his pardon, and he resolved to make a return for that.

At another time Mṛgadhara was attacked by a disease of the private parts, and he was ashamed to let Viśākhā treat him for it. She said to herself, “Wherefore is the master ashamed? May not a daughter nurse her father? Still he is ashamed.” Then she thought that, as he would not let himself be nursed by her, he must take to himself a wife. So she betook herself to Śrīvardhana’s house, and there, after a greeting, took a seat. Śrīvardhana, who had one daughter, bade her touch Viśākhā’s feet, but Viśākhā said, “Rather ought I to touch your feet.” And she added thereto, “May it be well! may it be well!” Thereupon Śrīvardhana inquired what it was she asked for.

“For your daughter.”

“On behalf of whom?”

“Of my father-in-law.”

He said nothing in reply.

Śrīvardhana’s wife asked what there was to prevent her being given to him.

“O good wife, as we owe a debt of gratitude to Viśākhā, let her be given.”

“Such being the case, we will give her.”

Thereupon Mṛgadhara, with great pomp, took her to himself as his wife. After which she, and not Viśākhā, nursed him.

Mṛgadhara once said to Viśākhā, “Answer, O daughter.” She said, “O master, have I done anything wrong?”

“O daughter, have you not utterly neglected to obey the directions which your mother gave you?”

“O master, I have obeyed them all. Inasmuch as the words, ‘Honour the sun and the moon,’ signify that the father-in-law and the mother-in-law must be considered by the daughter-in-law as the sun and the moon, therefore have I testified my respect for those relatives. Inasmuch as the words, ‘Pay attention to the fire/ signify that the husband ought to be valued by the wife like fire, impossible to be too well cared for and fostered, therefore have I taken care of my husband as one would of the fire. Inasmuch as the words, ‘Wipe the mirror clean,’ signify that the house ought to be swept and cleansed like a mirror, therefore have I cleansed the house every day. The words, ‘Wear white clothes/ signify that when one is engaged in housework one wears other clothes, but must put on white clothes for a sacrifice or when about to pass into the husband’s presence; to all this I have paid attention. The words, ‘You shall take but not give/ signify that one should never say a bad word to any one. In this matter also I have followed my instructions. The words, ‘Take heed to your speech/ signify that no secret ought to be divulged. To this also I have adhered. The words, ‘When you stand up, yield not your place to any other person,’ amount to this: ‘As you are a becoming daughter-in-law, you must sit in a special place.’ And I have sat apart. The words, ‘Eat savoury meats,’ mean that one should eat when one has become very hungry. I have never taken any food until after giving theirs to the household. The words, ‘You shall sleep softly,’ mean that at night, after all the household work is finished and all implements put away, as there is no need of staying up, one should sleep. I have acted accordingly, always reflecting that this thing was well done and that thing badly. The words, ‘You shall apply a ladder,’ have this meaning. Like as one who, having in an earlier state followed the path of the ten virtuous works, has arrived among the gods, so must you, born here in the human world, attain to that by deeds, bestowing gifts, gaining merits, and avoiding sins. This treasure-ladder is like unto a staircase to heaven. All this also have I followed as well as I could.”

“Excellent, Viśākhā, excellent I Your mother is a wise mother; and as you have guessed the meaning of what your mother said enigmatically, you are still wiser than she.”

Then Mṛgadhara thought, “If Bhagavant allows it, I will call Viśākhā my mother.” Going to Bhagavant, he touched his feet and said, “O worthy of reverence, is it allowable for a man to call his daughter-in-law his mother?” Bhagavant replied, “If she has five qualities. If she is a nurse to the sick, if she lives in wedlock as a decorous wife, if she protects living creatures, if she is a good guardian of property, and if she has inherited wisdom—in that case she may be called mother.”

Thereupon Mṛgadhara went to King Prasenajit of Kośala and asked for leave to call Viśākhā his mother. The king said, “As Viśākhā has taken care of me also, I will, after consulting my grandmother, call her my sister.” So he asked his grandmother, and she said that he might justly call Viśākhā by that name.

King Āraṇemi Brahmadatta had become attached to the daughter of a servant-maid, and that attachment had resulted in the birth of a son, to whom the name of Balamitra was given. Balamitra was banished from the country by his grandfather on account of an offence, and he went to Campā. As Viśākhā was his daughter, she might well be called Prasenajit’s sister.

The king gave orders that Viśākhā should be set upon an elephant, and that public proclamation should be made that she, Viśākhā, was Mṛgadhara’s another and King Prasenajit’s sister. In what had been a park she built a monastery, and made it over to the community of Bhikṣus of the four parts of the world. Accordingly it is stated by the Sthaviras in the Sūtras that the Buddha Bhagavant abode at Śrāvastī in the palace of Mṛgadhara’s mother Viśākhā, in what had been the park (Pūrvārāma).[1]

At another time Viśākhā produced thirty-two eggs. When Mṛgadhara heard of it, he sat for some time absorbed in meditation, resting his head upon his hand. He was inclined to throw away this mass produced by the fairest in the land. But Viśākhā said, “O master, throw them not away, but ask Bhagavant.” He did so, and Bhagavant said that they were not to be thrown away, but that thirty-two cages were to be made and filled with cotton, and that an egg was to be placed in each of the cages, and was to be daily stroked three times with the hand, and that on the seventh day thirty-two sons would come to light. When Viśākhā had done all this, thirty-two boys made their appearance on the seventh day. All of them, when they grew up, were sturdy, very strong, and overcomers of strength.

One day when they had gone out to drive in their chariot and were returning home, they came into collision with the chariot of the Purohita’s son, who had also driven out and was on his way back, so that the poles of the two carriages clashed. The Purohita’s son called out to them to make way, but they bade him do so himself. Then, as the Purohita’s son began to use abusive language, Viśākhā’s sons seized the pole of his chariot and upset him on a heap of rubbish. When he had come to his father, with his robe drawn over his head, he said with tears, “O father, thus have Viśākhā’s sons treated me.”

“O son, wherefore have they done so?”

The son gave a full account, of the matter. Then said his father, “O son, as this is so, we must contrive some means for making these men keep their mouths shut and not complain.” So he carefully sought for a pretext for calumniating them.

After a time the hillmen rebelled against King Prasenajit, who sent a general against them, but he was beaten by the rebels and he turned back. After the king had in this way sent out the general seven times, and the general was always beaten and obliged to retire, the king determined to take the field himself with a fourfold army. Viśākhā’s sons, as they came into the city, saw the king, and asked him whither he was going.

“To subdue the hillmen.”

“O king, stay here. We will go forth.”

“Do so.”

The king let them go forth with the fourfold army, and they overcame the hillmen, took from them hostages and tribute, and then came back. Then the Purohita said, “O king, as these men are of remarkably great strength, reflect that they will accomplish what ought to be done only at the king’s command.”

As kings are afraid of being killed, the king took this to heart, and once more asked the Purohita what was to be done. The Purohita said, “What is to be done, O king? If these men desire it, they can deprive you of your regal power and exercise it themselves.” The king, greatly incensed, considered how, if that was going to be the case, he could put them to death. He wished to contrive a means of doing so, but was anxious that the secret should not be betrayed, and so he resolved to undertake the affair without asking any one about it.

Having come to this conclusion, he determined to invite them to his palace and rid himself of them. He informed Viśākhā that her sons would eat with him on the following day. Viśākhā thought, “As my sons are to eat to-morrow at their uncle’s, I will entertain Bhagavant and the clergy.”

So she betook herself to Bhagavant and touched his feet. He gratified her with discourse regarding the doctrine. When Viśākhā rose from her seat, she invited Bhagavant and the clergy into her house.

The king’s messenger invited her sons to come to the palace. Now the king had caused a strong poison to be put into the food. When they were stupefied thereby, he ordered their heads to be cut off.

Footnotes and references:


See Spence Hardy, Manual, p. 227.—S.

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