Tibetan tales (derived from Indian sources)

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

This page related the story of “the story of mahakashyapa and bhadra” 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 9 - The story of Mahākāśyapa and Bhadrā

[Source: Kah-gyur, vol. ix. pp. 26-42.]

While Bhagavant was dwelling in the region of Tuṣita, there lived in the city of Nyagrodhika a highly respectable Brahman named Nyagrodha, whose means were so great that he rivalled Vaiśravaṇa in wealth. He possessed sixteen slave villages, thirty agricultural villages, sixty vegetable-garden villages, nine hundred and ninety-nine pair of plough oxen, six hundred millions of gold pieces, and eighty golden earrings capable of vying with those of King Mahāpadma. He had married a wife of birth like unto his own, but their union remained childless. In order to obtain offspring he appealed to all the gods, but without result.

As he sat one day sorrowing, his mother advised him to go to the park and have recourse to the deity of the thick-foliaged Nyagrodha tree from which the city took its name, a tree provided with wide-spreading branches and a splendid crown.

“Your father also remained childless [she said], although he had appealed for offspring to many hundreds of thousands of gods. At length he betook himself to that Nyagrodha tree, and after he had implored its aid you were born, and for that reason was the name of Nyagrodha bestowed upon you.”

So Nyagrodha also betook himself to that tree, and caused the ground around it to be sprinkled, cleansed, and adorned. He then filled the space with perfumes, flowers, and incense, and set up flags and standards. Then, after having entertained eight hundred Brahmans and bestowed upon them materials for robes, he prayed thus to the tree-haunting deity:—

“Be pleased to bestow upon me a son. If a son is born unto me, I will pay thee boundless honour after this fashion for the space of a year. But if no son is born unto me, then will I cleave thee down to the level of beard-grass[1]  and split thee into chips. These will I burn, when they have been dried by the wind and the sun, and their ashes will I scatter to the storm-wind or cast into the rolling stream.”

The deity, who was one of but small power, was well pleased with the prayer, and moreover was afraid of being possibly driven away from that haunt. So, being in favour with the four Mahārājas, the deity went to the Mahārāja Rāṣṭrapāla, and besought him to fulfil Nyagrodha’s request. Rāṣṭrapāla considered that he could not do this, inasmuch as the birth of sons and daughters takes place only in consequence of.former actions. So he betook himself, along with the deity of the tree, to Virūḍhaka, to Virūpākṣa, and to Vaiśravaṇa. But they likewise declared their incompetency. Then the four Mahārājas betook themselves to Śakra, the prince of the gods, and said, “O Kauśika, a deity belonging to our company is in danger of being driven from home. Be pleased on that account to bestow a son on Nyagrodha, the respected Brahman of the city Nyagrodha.”

Śakra replied that it did not lie in his power to bestow a son or daughter, seeing that sons and daughters are born as a result of their own [previous] merits. Just then the court of the gods was illuminated’ by a great radiance, at the sight of which Śakra begged the four Mahārājas not to go away yet, for Mahābrahma was doubtless about to appear. Then appeared Mahābrahma in youthful perfection, and took his place on Śakra’s bosom. He it is who fulfils all things which shall be accomplished. Then Śakra, the prince of the gods, laid the palms of his hands together, and thus prayed to Mahābrahma:—

“O Mahābrahma, art thou not Brahma, Mahābrahma, the ruler, the worker, the bestower, the spell-wielder, the lord, the most high, and, as father of the worlds, the creator of all beings? Lo, a deity belonging to our court, a dweller upon the earth, is in danger of being driven away from a tree-habitation. Be pleased, therefore, to bestow a son upon the respected Brahman Nyagrodha of the city of Nyagrodhika.”

Mahābrahma reflected that he really could not confer on any one a son or a daughter, but that, if he stated that he could not do so, then all the designations would be discredited which it was customary to apply to him, such as Brahma, Mahābrahma, the ruler, the worker, the bestower, and the spell-wielder. In case he should say that he would bestow a son or daughter, inasmuch as he had no power to do so, it would be requisite for him to take heed as to how he should accomplish that bestowing. With that end he said privately to Śakra, the prince of the gods, “O Kauśika, neither has the world made me, nor I the world.”

Śakra replied, “O Mahābrahma, since this is so, inspect thy region, and if a being is found there in the act of being subjected to the law of death, induce it to enter into the womb in the house of the respected Brahman.”

Brahma asked him why he did not inspect his own region. Śakra replied, “In the region of Brahma the gods are known to be powerful, but those of this region are considered powerless, and on account of their feebleness they would not venture to make their entry.”

When Brahma had given his consent, and had returned into his own region, he perceived that the life of a certain god was coming to an end, five prognostics thereof being visible. To him he spake thus:—

“O friend, as it appears that thou art departing from thy pleasant abode, and art making a change, be so good as to enter into the womb in the house of the respectable Brahman Nyagrodha in the city of Nyagrodhika. I will see that nothing shall be wanting in the way of appointments.”

The god replied in displeasure, “O Mahābrahma, release me from this obligation. Wherefore this stress? Brahmans are addicted to perverse doctrines. He who wishes to come into existence in the house of a Brahman is like unto one who from love of golden fetters sets his own feet in bondage. Now will the Bodisat, after having thrice accomplished the purification of the Kāmāvadara gods, descend from the region of the Tuṣita gods, and at midnight, as a snow-white elephant like unto the Airāvaṇa, with six tusks and seven splendid limbs, enter the womb of Mahāmāyā, the wife of King Śuddhodhana, in that monarch’s Śakya seat, not far distant from the hermitage of the Rishi Kapila, on the shore of the Ganges, in the neighbourhood of the Himalaya. There will he be born, after the lapse of ten full months, and, having become possessed of the highest and most consummate wisdom, will set up the pillars of doctrine, will strike the drum of doctrine, and will offer the sacrifice of doctrine. Therefore will I too, departing from here, make my entry into some house of no account. Then going forth from it, renouncing the world, I will enjoy in doctrine the drink of the gods. But were I to be born in the house of a rich Brahman, and were to be his only son, no one would permit me to enter into the clerical state. This being so, I do not hold it needful for me to be born of a Brahman family.”

“Even if this be so,” replied Mahābrahma, “thou wilt make thy entry there at my request. At the fitting time will I, in that case, instruct thy parents aright.”

Thereupon the god’s son gave his consent and entered the womb of Nyagrodha’s wife. After the lapse of eight or nine months a fine boy was born and his birth-feast was solemnised. In the city of Nyagrodha all stones, gravel, and rubbish were swept aside, sandal-water was sprinkled, flowers of all sorts were strewn, incense was burnt in censers filled with perfumes, standards, flags, silken ribbons and streamers were hung out, markets for goods were provided, gifts were bestowed and benefits conferred at the four gates and the cross-ways inside the city, food being bestowed upon those who wanted food, drink upon those who desired drink, clothes upon those who needed clothes, and garlands, perfumes, and ointments upon those by whom garlands, perfumes, and ointments were required.

After many gifts had been given and benefits conferred in this way during the space of thrice seven, consequently of twenty-one days, the kinsmen assembled together, and bestowed upon the boy the name of Nyagrodhaja, inasmuch as he had been obtained in consequence of the prayer addressed to the Nyagrodha tree; but the Brahmans named him Kāśyapa, as his father was of the Kāśyapa race.

When he had grown up, and had partaken of instruction in all Brahman learning, his father intrusted him with the instruction of five hundred Brahmans’ sons. Afterwards his father reflected that it was the custom for Brahmans to live for forty-eight years in chastity, and only in advanced life to enjoy their wives. But he wished to choose a wife for his son betimes, in order that the great and rich race might be transmitted. So he said to his son, “O son, as this is the law of the world, a wife must be taken for the maintenance of the race.”

“O father,” replied the son, “what shall I do with a wife? I will go into the forest of penitence.”

However, as his father repeatedly maintained that the race must be transmitted, Kāśyapa hit upon a means whereby he would seem not to be opposing the demands of his parents, and yet would avoid consorting with his wife. He said to his father, “O father, order gold from the river Jambu[2] to be given to me.” His father sent for the treasurer, and ordered him to give his son Nyagrodhaja as much Jambu-river gold as he required. The treasurer promised to act in accordance with this command. Thereupon Nyagrodhaja called in an experienced smith, and ordered him to make out of this gold the likeness of a woman. Then he gave this image to his father, and said, “O father, if a maiden can be found resembling this image, she shall become my wife. No other can I take as my wife.”

As his father sat sorrowfully reflecting that it would be hard to find a maiden whose appearance was like that of even ordinary gold, the young Brahmans saw him, and asked what was the cause of his depression. He explained to them that it arose in consequence of his son’s desire, one which his parents had never anticipated. They bade him be of good cheer. A man thus disposed must be treated by similarly framed wise measures. As he had caused an image of that kind to be prepared, his father ought to have three others prepared in addition. With these four images they ought to be sent out into the four quarters of the world. There could be no doubt that they would discover the maiden.

The Brahman followed their advice, and caused three additional images to be prepared. The young Brahmans took the four images, and began wandering through villages, market-towns, cities, and other places, and in them as they went they played upon divers musical instruments. The Brahman Nyagrodha had given them directions not to choose a likeness to the image out of an inferior caste and family. As they considered it would be impossible for them to go from house to house, they determined to find out some other way of proceeding. In the villages, market-towns, cities, and other places at which they arrived, they always set up the image in the central point, and paid it reverence, offering up incense, perfumes, flowers, and so forth, and letting music resound, and they gave notice that it was the Goddess of Virgins who had arrived. To virgins who paid her honour would she grant five wishes: birth in an exalted race, marriage into an exalted race, residence in a fully provided house, submission on the part of the husband, and the possession of children. When these words of theirs had become known, crowds of maidens arrived, and with sacrifices and testimonies of honour they addressed their prayers to the image.

After some time, the young Brahmans who had gone towards the east, the north and the south, came back without having met with any success. When the Brahman Nyagrodha saw them return, he remained sitting where he was absorbed in thought. But his son Nyagrodhaja was exceedingly joyful and said, “It is good that ye have found nothing.”

Meanwhile the young Brahmans who had travelled westwards went on wandering through villages, towns, lands, and capitals, till at length they came to the city of Kapila, situated in the land of Kapila. In it lived a very rich Brahman named Kapila, to whom there had been born, after he had married in his own degree, an extremely beautiful daughter. To her, in accordance with the custom prevailing in Madhyadeśa, the name of Bhadrā was given on account of her beauty; and so, as her father’s name was Kapila, she was called Kapilabhadrā. She had grown up by the time when those young Brah-mans happeneḍ to arrive with their image, and set it up with all marks of honour in the middle of the marketplace, and the maidens of Kapila drew near to the Goddess of Virgins, and prayed to her and brought her offerings. Among others, the wife of the Brahman Kapila heard of this, and told her daughter to go and make an offering to the Goddess of Virgins. She replied, “Of what use will it be if I make an offering to the Goddess of Virgins?”

“If you beseech her,” said her mother, “five kinds of things may be vouch-safed: birth in an exalted race, marriage into an exalted race, residence in a fully provided house, submission on the part of the husband, and possession of children.”

To these words spoken by her mother Kapilabhadrā replied, “O mother, I come of an exalted race and I am endowed with beauty. As I have no longing after any kind of love, I do not see what I have to desire.”

However, as her mother repeatedly urged her to go, Kapilabhadrā, in order to fulfil her mother’s wishes, set out to visit the Goddess of Virgins, taking with her flowers, incense, powders, robes, and the like. As she drew near to the image it became less and less brilliant, so that by the time when she came up to it, it seemed as if it were made of iron. When the young Brahmans had considered the question as to what sort of change it was that had taken place, and by whose power it had been brought about, they perceived that the brilliance [which had caused the change] proceeded from that maiden. So they inquired of her whose daughter she was. “The Brahman Kapila’s daughter Bhadrā,” she replied.

Having learnt this, they betook themselves to the Brahman Kapila’s house, and remained standing at its door asking for the bestowal of a gift. The Brahman Kapila thought they were asking alms, so he gave orders that the young Brahmans should be presented with meal of the colour of māluta flowers, oil, grapes, pomegranates, and tamarinds. Now it is the custom in Madhyadeśa for gifts from a father’s house to be distributed by his daughters. This is done because people suppose that they obtain what is costliest by means of the gift from the father’s house. So Kapilabhadrā came with the gifts to the spot where the young Brahmans were begging, and offered them the gifts. But the young Brahmans refused to accept them. Hearing this, the Brahman Kapila asked the young Brahmans what it was they desired. They replied, “You should give us your daughter; we do not want the gift of meal.” Then the Brahman Kapila angrily told those young Brahmans that he would not give them his daughter. They explained that it was not for themselves that they had requested the bestowal of his daughter. Thereupon the Brahman Kapila declared that he could not understand the matter. Then the young Brahmans asked him if he had never heard of the extremely rich and respected Brahman Nyagrodha, and his exceedingly handsome and intelligent son, versed in all sciences, and said that it was in that son’s behalf that they had asked for the daughter’s hand. Kapila replied that he had in truth heard a full account of the virtues and attributes of the respected Brahman, but that he did not see how an alliance could be entered into at such a distance. The young Brahmans said in reply to this, “Honoured sir, have you never heard what men are wont to say, ‘Fire, wind, a horse, a poison that runs along the veins, and a Brahman of firm resolution, do not allow themselves to be stopped.’ That Brahman is very rich, and you too are the same. You both have men and beasts for coming and going. Moreover, enduring is the friendship which is contracted afar off.”

When the Brahman youths had succeeded in rendering the Brahman Kapila well disposed towards the Brahman Nyagrodha, he bestowed upon all of them towels, bricks powder, sesamum-oil, combs, and other things used in bathing. The youths set out with these things for the bathing-pools outside the city of Kapila.

While they were bathing; the Brahman Kapila bethought himself of taking counsel with his friends and relations. So he went back into his house and told these things to his wife and his kinsmen. They said, “This Brahman is highly distinguished, and therefore we should be ready to take great pains in order to give him the daughter, even if he had no desire to obtain her. All the more unreservedly, therefore, ought she to be given to him now that he himself asks for her. If he enters into an alliance with us and becomes her husband, the daughter also will be fortunate.”

Thereupon the parents betrothed their daughter to the Brahman youth Nyagrodhaja, having previously bathed and put on white garments, and the prayers for good fortune and happy results having been uttered by the Brahmans. The Brahman youths then informed the maiden’s parents of the month, day, hour, and constellation at which the youth would appear; and then, having completely attained their end, they joyfully set out for Nyagrodhika.

When they arrived there, the Brahman youth Nyagrodhaja, who had descried them from afar, perceiving that they were joyful, said to himself that they had doubtless found just such a maiden as he had thought of The young Brahmans betook themselves to the Brahman Nyagrodha, paid him reverence, and sat down. He welcomed them and asked, “Have ye, O Brahman youths, obtained that which we proposed and hoped?”

“O Pandit,” they joyfully replied, “be of good cheer; we have obtained what is far more excellent than what you imagined. You instructed us to pay attention, not to the maiden’s caste, family, and descent, but to her beauty. We have obtained one who is endowed with beauty, caste, family, descent, and property.”

The Brahman youths then gave a full account of all the questions which had arisen, and of how the name, day, hour, and constellation had been settled, adding, “As we, O Pandit, have accomplished everything, and have returned back, now know, O Pandit, that the time has arrived.” When the Brahman Nyagrodha had heard this report, he rejoiced greatly, and bestowed upon the Brahman youths food, drink, clothes, and ornaments of the very best kind.

But when the Brahman youth Nyagrodhaja heard of the beauty and great brilliance of this maiden, he was greatly disturbed, and he reflected that if her beauty was so great, great also no doubt would be her passions. So he resolved to go and inspect her beforehand. He said to his parents, “O my parents, I will bathe first at a bathing-place, and will get married afterwards.” His parents gave their consent. Thereupon Nyagrodhaja, accompanied by one young Brahman, set out from the city of Nyagrodhika for the city of Kapila.

When he had arrived there, and had recovered from the exertions of the journey, he took the leaf of a tree, and began collecting alms throughout the city. Going from house to house, he came to the door of the Brahman Kapila’s house. Thereupon Kapila’s daughter Bhadrā came forth with a gift, and the Brahman youth Nyagrodhaja looked upon her, and guessed that it was she.

“Whose daughter are you?” he said to the maiden.

“I am Kapila’s daughter,” she replied.

“Are you betrothed to any one?”

“I have heard,” she replied, “that my parents have given me in marriage to the son, Nyagrodhaja by name, of the respected Brahman Nyagrodha, who dwells in the city of Nyagrodhika.”

“O Bhadrā,” said Nyagrodhaja, “what need have you of such a husband? Know that she whose husband he will be will be just as if she had no husband.”

“How so?”

“What can be done,” he replied, “with such a man as he, seeing that he has no craving for any kind of love?”

“Oh, sir, that is excellent,” she said. Then, after thinking awhile, “You have given me back my life, you have entertained me with Āmṛta,” she said aloud, “1 too, O Brahman youth, have no craving for any kind of love.” Moreover she said, “Your appearance has become such a delight to me as is produced by neither delicious sandal nor rohrṇī ointment, being great as is the distance between the rich man and the pauper. But as I am powerless, and my parents have betrothed me, I know not what can be done.”

Then said the Brahman youth Nyagrodhaja to Kapila’s daughter Bhadrā, “O Bhadrā, be of good cheer! I myself am the Brahman youth Nyagrodhaja.”

When Kapila’s daughter Bhadrā heard this, she was greatly comforted, and she said to Nyagrodhaja, “O Brahman youth, enter in and confirm the vows. The virtuous keep their vows.”

After Nyagrodhaja and Kapila’s daughter Bhadrā had held counsel together thereon, he went back to Nyagrodhika.

After this, when the Brahman Nyagrodha had set his house in order, according to the laws of householders, Nyagrodhaja married, and he and his wife were housed by his parents in one and the same habitation, and in it two beds were provided for them. Then said Nyagrodhaja to Kapila’s daughter Bhadrā, “O Bhadrā, remember the previously taken vow.” And just the same did Bhadrā also say to Nyagrodhaja. After they had thus admonished one another, they lived together like a mother and a son.

The Brahman Nyagrodha and his wife asked the women-servants on what terms were their son and his wife. They replied, “On those of a mother with her son, a son with his mother.” When the Brahman and his wife heard this, he said, “That is our fault, not the fault of those two. Why did we provide them with two beds?” Then he gave orders that only one bed and one stool should be provided. Nyagrodhaja saw that his parents had taken this step, which was antagonistic to the vow that had been taken, and Kapila’s daughter Bhadra perceived the intention of the parents. Then she said to Nyagrodhaja, “O lord, on our account have these steps been taken; but be mindful of the previously taken vow.” He replied, “Be of good cheer, and have no fear.” Then during the first part of the night, Kapila’s daughter Bhadrā slept in the bed, and Nyagrodhaja sat on the stool. During the second night watch, Nyagrodhaja slept while Bhadrā occupied the seat. In the last watch Bhadrā again slept, but Nyagrodhaja remained awake sitting on the stool.

The old people next took awry the stool too. Then Kapila’s daughter Bhadrā again admonished Nyagrodhaja as before. He replied, “Be without fear or care, and remain mindful of the vow.” Thereupon Bhadrā slept during the first night-watch, but Nyagrodhaja walked up and down. During the middle watch Nyagrodhaja slept, but Bhadrā walked up and down; and in the last watch Bhadrā again slept, but Nyagrodhaja walked up and down.

Thus for the space of twelve years they occupied the same single-bedded room without an amorous thought ever arising in their minds. Then the king of the gods, Śakra, thought, “As it is a very wonderful thing to see such a freedom from passion, I will put these two to the test.” With this purpose he assumed the form of a snake, which glided into their bedroom and coiled itself up under the bed. When Nyagrodhaja caught sight of the black snake with terrible poison fangs under the bed, he feared that it might do some harm. Now in her sleep Bhadrā had let one of her hands hang down. Nyagrodhaja considered what could be done, and lifted up her hand with the jewelled handle of the fly-flapper. Awakened and alarmed by the touch of the handle, Bhadrā cried out in displeasure, “My lord, what means this touch? Surely you have not touched me with amorous intent'”

“Oh no, Bhadrā!” he replied, “but because I feared that this poisonous snake might bite you did I lift up your hand.”

“With what did you do so?” she asked.

“With the jewelled fly-flapper’s handle,” he replied.

“My lord,” she said, “better would it have been that the snake should have bitten me than that you should have touched me with the jewelled fly-flapper’s handle.”

“Why so?” he asked.

“As a fair tree clasped by the māluta creeper perishes,” she replied, “so do men go to ruin from a woman’s touch. Therefore is it better that one should be swiftly bitten by the snake of death than that the hand of a man should touch an honourable woman. In consequence of the contact of the king’s daughter’s body was the great ascetic Ṛṣyaśṛṅga long ago deprived of the power he had gained by penance. On the path of the storm-wind did he approach the king’s palace. He went back to the forest on foot.”

After the young couple had gone on living for some time in this fashion, the two old people died. Then the Brahman youth Nyagrodhaja thought, “So long as my parents were alive we had no cares, but now that they are dead we must manage the affairs of the household ourselves.” So he told Bhadrā that she must take heed to the indoor affairs, but that he would go and look after the fields.

Now when he regarded the work done afield, he saw how the nine hundred and ninety-nine pair of ploughoxen were tormented by small insects, how the oxen had their nostrils bored through, their shoulders worn, their loins torn by the iron, and how the labourers, long-haired and long-bearded, attired in garments of hemp, had wales on their hands and feet, and, with bodies covered with dust, were like unto burnt-out tree-stumps, and how, looking like Piśācas, they abused and struck one another for the sake of a plough or a ploughshare, on account of the use of the oxen or the goad. So he went up to them and asked them to whom they belonged. They replied that they were the labourers of the Brahman youth Nyagrodhaja. He asked by whom they had been taken into service. They replied that they had been engaged, not by him, but by his father, for the cultivation of his estate. Then said Nyagrodhaja to these labourers, “O sirs, if ye were engaged by Nyagrodhaja’s father for the cultivation of his estate, wherefore do ye labour with blows and abuse? If ye commit such misdeeds with your bodies and your speech, are ye not afraid of suffering in a round of long pains through the maturing of such conduct?”

Then Nyagrodhaja resolved that he, sinning neither with the body nor in speech or thought, would acquire merit. So when he had returned home, he said to Bhadrā, “O Bhadrā, manage the household with care.”

“O lord, what are you going to do?” she replied.

“I am going into the forest of penance,” he said. Then he added the following verse:—

“A small measure of cooked rice, a lonely couch, ensures bliss. A cotton double garment is to be worn. All else is tinged with gloom.”

For some time Bhadrā took charge of the household. Seeing the slave-women with wales on their hands and feet, clad in hempen garments, with dishevelled hair, striking each other with pestles on account of mortars, pestles, cooking-pits, and the like, she asked them to whom they belonged. They replied, “To Kapila’s daughter, Bhadrā.” Being asked if Bhadrā had chosen them herself, they replied that it was not she but her mother-in-law who had taken them for the work of her household. Then she also was moved; and, as at that time the Buddha was not yet born, she bestowed gifts upon the Tīrthakas, Mīmāṃsakas, Parivrajakas, Nirgranthas, Ājīvakas, Ash-bearers, and so forth, and upon the poor and needy, and the askers for alms; so that the poor were not poor, and the slave-women, the day-labourers, and the servants had no more to cook.

After dividing all his property among ministers, friends, relations, and connections, Nyagrodhaja entered his house and inspected the clothes-room, with the intention of choosing a humble garment. He took out from thence a large cotton robe worth a hundred thousand pieces of money, and he gave a similar robe to Bhadrā, but the house he made over to his kinsmen.

Then said Nyagrodhaja to Bhadrā, “O Bhadrā, whither will you go?”

“I will go together with you into the forest of penance,” she replied.

“It is not allowable for me to live in the penance forest with a wife,” he said.

“In that case,” replied Bhadrā, “let me be the first to go forth from the house.”

“Why so?” he asked.

“If you are the first to go forth from here,” said Bhadrā, “many men will long after the wife, as after rice-soup that is ready for the table. It is not becoming that, if you go away, other men should long after me.”

Then the Brahman Nyagrodhaja thought, “This damsel is very discreet and of well-ordered intelligence.” And he said to Bhadrā, “Bhadrā, come here; we will go forth from the house together.”

Thereupon they two went away from the house together. After they had journeyed for a short time together, the husband said to the wife, “O Bhadrā, go and live in whatever way pleases you.”

At that time there lived in Rajagṛha the Nirgrantha Pūraṇa, who asserted that he knew all that is unknown, and who was surrounded by many Nirgranthas[3] and Nirgrantha students. To him Bhadrā betook herself and said, “Reverend sir, I wish to be received by you into the clerical order.” He received her, and she entered among the Nirgranthas. When the Nirgranthas saw Bhadrā’s exquisite beauty, they said to each other, “All we who have entered the clerical order have done so by reason of the five powers of divine love. Now Kapila’s daughter Bhadrā looks like unto a divine being, but we know not whether she has acquired the powers of divine love or not. So we desire to enjoy the company of Kapila’s daughter Bhadrā.” Betaking themselves to the Nirgrantha Pūraṇa, they explained the whole matter to him, and asked for Kapila’s daughter Bhadrā. As a favour to his pupils he granted her to them. Thereupon the five hundred Nirgranthas, in consequence of former actions, enjoyed her company every day. Disquieted, she consulted Pūraṇa. He said, “Whom the lot betokens, with him have to do.”

At that time Bhagavant, after enjoying himself in love as the Bodisat for twenty-nine years, and then gazing upon age, disease, and death, had risen up at the midnight hour, and betaken himself on the good steed Kaṇṭhaka to the forest, and, after enduring for six years a penance of no avail, bathing in the river Nairañjanā, partaking of the milk-food sixteen times purified by Nandā and Nandabalā, had been praised in verse by the Nāgarāja Kāla, had received the Svastika grass from the grass-seller, had betaken himself to the Bodhi tree without allowing himself to be disturbed, and had without fear strewed the litter, taking his seat with crossed legs as the sleeping Nāgarāja coils himself together, and there had remained in this position till purification was attained, and had uttered words stirring his souk After he had there overcome Māra and a host of thirty-six tens of millions of demons, he attained to the most complete insight, and. became the perfect Buddha. Admonished by Brahma, he betook himself to Vārāṇaśī [Vārāṇasī], and after he had set in movement the wheel of faith, he confirmed Ājñāna Kauṇḍinya and eighty thousand gods in the truth, also he converted the troop of the Five, and the followers of the Five, and fifty village youths. Having reached the cotton-tree forest, he converted the sixty Bhadravargiyas; having reached Senānī, he confirmed in the truth the two maidens Nandā and Nandabalā; having reached Uru-vilvā, he converted Uruvilvā-Kāśyapa and five hundred others by means of the eighteen magic transfigurations; having reached Gāyā, he converted Nadīkāśyapa and a thousand wearers of matted hair by means of three metamorphoses; having reached the Yaṣṭi forest, he converted King Bimbisāra with his son and his court, eighty-thousand gods, and many hundreds of thousands of Brahmans and householders of Magadha. From Veṇuvana Bhagavant betook himself at that time to Bahuputracaitya. There Kāśyapa saw Bhagavant under a tree, and was received by him. Kāśyapa gave him the costly cotton robe, and received the Buddha’s robe in return.

At the time of the festival of the meeting of the Nāgarājas Girika and Sundara, many Nirgranthas came to Rājagṛha. When Kāśyapa perceived Kapila’s daughter Bhadrā, as he remarked that her appearance was altered, he asked her whether she had preserved her chastity. After she had informed him of what had taken place, he invited her to turn her mind towards the teaching of Bhagavant. As she hesitated, he assured her that this teaching contained in it nothing sinful, for its followers experience no desire for the love of gods, not to speak of that of men. He sent her to Mahāprajāpatī, who received her.

When she next met him as she was collecting alms, she complained that, like a fat sheep, she attracted universal attention on account of her beauty. Thereupon he told her that she need not go out collecting alms in future; he would give her every day half of what he himself collected. Thereat the Six scoffed. At length Bhadrā became an Arhantin, and Mahākāśyapa gave her back her liberty to collect alms for herself.

Now, when Ajātaśatru had killed his father’, and nothing sufficed to rouse him from his sorrow, an evil minister, who remarked the beauty of Bhadrā, conceived the idea that she might be able to gladden his heart. So he caused her to be seized while she was out in quest of alms, and had her washed in one of the royal bath-houses, and provided with royal perfumes, flower chaplets, raiment, and brilliant ornaments. Then he conducted her to the king, who fell passionately in love with her as soon as he saw her, and enjoyed himself with her.

As Bhadrā was not present at the fifteenth Upavasatha,[4] Mahāprajāpatī ordered Utpalavarṇā to see after her. Utpalavarṇā introduced herself into the palace through a window by means of magic, and instructed Bhadrā in magic. Then Bhadrā betook herself, adorned with all her ornaments, to the summer residence of the Bhikṣuṇīs, where the Twelve mocked at this magnificent array. Mahāprajāpatī ordered her to give the ornaments back to the king and to put on again the brown clerical robe. When she reappeared at the palace, and the king, aroused from sleep, wished to embrace her, she raised herself heavenward by magic means. When he saw her thus soaring, fear came upon him. He uttered cries of anguish, and asked her whether she was a goddess, a Nāgī, a Yakṣiṇī, or a Rākṣasī. At his request she swept down again. He fell at her feet, and she granted him the forgiveness for which he prayed.

Footnotes and references:


Andropogon muricatus.—S.


Jambu: “Name of a fabulous river, said to flow from the mountain Meru, and to be formed by the juice of the fruits of an immense Jambu-tree on that mountain.”


Nirgrantha, “Freed from all ties or hindrances; a saint, a devotee, who has withdrawn from the world, &c.”


“A fast-day, day of preparation for the Soma sacrifice, &c”

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