The Legend of Asoka (Northern Version)

The Lineage and Family of Asoka

KING Bimbisara reigned at Rajagriha. His son was Ajatasatru, whose son was Udayibhadra, whose son was Munda, whose son was Kakavarnin, whose son was Sahalin, whose son was Tulakuchi, whose son was Mahamandala, whose son was Prasenajit, whose son was Nanda, whose son was Bindusara.

King Bindusara reigned at Pataliputra, and had a son named Susima.

A certain Brahman of Champa had a lovely daughter. A prophecy declared that she was destined to be the mother of two sons, of whom one would become universal monarch, and the other would attain the goal of the life of a recluse. The Brahman, seeking the fulfillment of the prophecy, succeeded in introducing his daughter into the palace, but the jealousy of the queens

Debarred her from the royal embraces, and assigned to her the menial duties of a barber. After some time the girl managed to explain to the king that she was no barber but the daughter of a Brahman. When the king understood that she belonged to a caste with a member of which he could honourably consort, he at once took her into favour and made her chief queen. In due course, the Brahman’s daughter, whose name was Subhadrangi, bore to the king two sons, the elder named Asoka, and the younger named Vigatasoka.

The ascetic Pingala Vatsajiva, when consulted by King Bindusara concerning the destiny of the two boys, feared to tell his sovereign the truth, because Asoka was rough-looking and displeasing in the sight of his father; but he frankly told Queen Subhadrangi that her son Asoka was destined for the throne.

It came to pass that King Bindusara desired to besiege Taxila, which was in rebellion. The king ordered his despised son Asoka to undertake the siege, and yet would not supply him with chariots or the needful munitions of war. Ill-supplied as he was, the prince obediently started to carry out the king’s orders, whereupon the earth opened, and from her bosom supplied all his wants. When Asoka with his army approached Taxila, the citizens came forth to meet him, protesting that their quarrel was only with oppressive ministers, not with the king or the king’s son. Taxila and the kingdom of the Svasas made their submission to the prince, who in due course returned to the capital.

It came to pass that one day Prince Susima, the king’s eldest son, was coming into the palace from the garden when he playfully threw his glove at the head of the prime-minister Khallataka. The minister was deeply offended, and from that day engaged in a conspiracy with five hundred privy councillors to exclude Susima, and to place Asoka on the throne.

The people of Taxila again revolted, and Prince Susima, who was deputed to reduce them to obedience, failed in his task. King Bindusara, who was then old and ill, desired to send Asoka to Taxila, and to recall Susima, that he might take up the succession.

The ministers, however, contrived to exclude the elder prince, and to secure the throne for Asoka, on whose head the gods themselves placed the crown, at the moment when his father expired. Susima marched against Pataliputra, to assert his rights and expel the usurper; but Asoka and his minister Radhagupta obtained the services of naked giants, who successfully guarded the gates, and by stratagem Susima was inveigled, so that he fell into a ditch full of burning fuel, and there miserably perished.

The Tyranny and Conversion of Asoka

One day, when five hundred of his ministers ventured to resist the royal will, Asoka, transported with rage, drew his sword, and with his own hand cut off the heads of all the offenders.

Another day, the women of the palace, whom Asoka’s rough features failed to please, mocked him by breaking off the leaves of an asoka tree in the garden. The king, when he heard of the incident, caused five hundred women to be burnt alive.

The ministers, horrified at these acts of cruelty, entreated the king not to defile his royal hands with blood, but to appoint an executioner to carry out sentences.

The king accepted this advice, and a man named Chandagirika a wretch of unexampled cruelty, who loved to torture animals, and had slain his father and mother was sought out and appointed Chief Executioner. For his use the king caused to be built a prison, which had a most attractive exterior, so that men might be tempted to enter it, and thus suffer all the tortures of hell which awaited them within; for the king had commanded that no man who entered this prison- should leave it alive.

One day, a holy ascetic named Balapandita (Samudra in the metrical version) unwittingly entered the gate, and was instantly seized by the jailer. The holy man, though given seven days’ respite, was at the end of the term of grace ruthlessly cast into a seething cauldron of filth, beneath which a great fire was kindled. The cruel jailer, looking in, beheld the saint, seated on a lotus, and unscathed by fire. The miracle having been reported to the palace, the king himself came to see it, and being converted by the sight and the preaching of the holy man, embraced the true religion and forsook the paths of wickedness. The prison was demolished, and the jailer was burnt alive.

The above legend from the Asokavadana, which is given with further details by Hiuen Tsang (Beal, ii. 86), places the ‘prison’ or ‘hell’ at Pataliputra the capital.

Another form of the legend, which is merely referred to by Hiuen Tsang without comment, places the ‘hell’ at Ujjain in Malwa (Beal, ii. 271).

The conversion of the king, according to Hiuen Tsang, was due to the great saint Upagupta, whom he met after the destruction of the ‘ hell.’ With the aid of Upagupta, King Asoka summoned the genii and commanded them to build stupas throughout the land for the reception of the relics of Buddha’s body, which had been taken out of the eight stupas where they had originally been enshrined after the cremation of the Sakya sage. At the moment of a solar eclipse the genii, in obedience to the commands of the king and the saint, simultaneously deposited the relics in all the stupas.

The Avadana story is that when King Asoka desired to distribute the sacred relics of the body of Buddha among the eighty-four thousand stupas erected by himself, he opened the Stupa of the Urn, wherein King Ajatasatru had enshrined the cremation relics collected from seven of the eight original stupas. The eighth, that at Ramagrama, was defended by the guardian Nagas, who would not allow it to be opened. The relics thus withdrawn from the Stupa of the Urn were distributed among eighty-four thousand stupas, ‘resplendent as the autumn clouds,’ which were erected in a single day by the descendant of the Mauryas. ‘The worshipful, the fortunate Maurya caused the erection of all these stupas for the benefit of created beings; formerly he was called on earth Asoka the Wicked, but this good work has earned for him the name of Asoka the Pious.’

The metrical Avadana is still more extravagant than the prose form of the tale, and alleges that 3,510 millions of stupas were erected at the request of the people of Taxila, and that ten millions were erected by the Yakshas on the shores of the sea.

The Pilgrimage of Asoka

Having erected the eighty-four thousand stupas, King Asoka expressed a desire to visit the holy places of his religion. By the advice of his counsellors he sent for the saint Upagupta, son of Gupta the perfumer. Upagupta had been in accordance with prophecy born a century after the death of Buddha, and, when summoned by the king, was dwelling on Mount Urumunda in the Natabhatika forest near Mathura.

The saint accepted the royal invitation, and, accompanied by eighteen thousand holy men, travelled in state by boat down the Jumna and Ganges to Pataliputra, where he was received with the utmost reverence and honour.

The king said: ‘I desire to visit all the places where the Venerable Buddha stayed, to do honour unto them, and to mark each with an enduring memorial for the instruction of the most remote posterity.’ The saint approved of the project, and undertook to act as guide. Escorted by a mighty army the monarch visited all the holy places in order.

The first place visited was the Lumbini Garden. Here Upagupta said: ‘In this spot, great king, the Venerable One was born’; and added: ‘Here is the first monument consecrated in honour of the Buddha, the sight of whom is excellent. Here, the moment after his birth, the recluse took seven steps upon the ground.’

The king bestowed a hundred thousand gold pieces on the people of the place, and built g a stupa. He then passed on to Kapilavastu.

The royal pilgrim next visited the Bodhi-tree at Bodh Gaya, and there also gave a largess of a hundred thousand gold pieces, and built a chaitya. Rishipatana (Sarnath) near Benares, where Gautama had ‘turned the wheel of the law,’ and Kusinagara, where the Teacher had passed away, were also visited with similar observances. At Sravasti the pilgrims did reverence to the Jetavana monastery, where Gautama had so long dwelt and taught, and to the stupas of his disciples, Sariputra, Maudgalayana, and Maha Kasyapa. But when the king visited the stupa of Vakkula, he gave only one copper coin, inasmuch as Vakkula had met with few obstacles in the path of holiness, and had done little good to his fellow creatures. At the stupa of Ananda, the faithful attendant of Gautama, the royal gift amounted to six million gold pieces.

The Story of Vitasoka

Vitasoka (Vigatasoka), the king’s brother, was an adherent of the Tirthyas, who reproached the Buddhist monks as being men who loved pleasure and feared pain. Asoka’s efforts to convert his brother were met by the retort that the king was merely a tool in the hands of the monks. The king therefore resolved to effect his brother’s conversion by stratagem.

At his instigation the ministers tricked Vitasoka into the assumption of the insignia of royalty. The king when informed of what had happened feigned great anger, and threatened his brother with instant death. Ultimately he was persuaded to grant the offender seven days’ respite, and to permit him to exercise sovereign power during those seven days. During this period the fear of death so wrought upon the mind of Vitasoka that he embraced the doctrine of Buddha, in which he was instructed by the holy Sthavira Yasas. With difficulty the king was persuaded by the Sthavira Yasas to grant to his brother permission to become a monk. In order to initiate the novice gradually into the habits of the life of a mendicant friar, Asoka prepared a hermitage for him within the palace grounds. From this hermitage Vitasoka withdrew, first to the Kukkutarama monastery, and afterwards to Videha (Tirhut), where he attained to the rank of a saint (arahat). When Vitasoka, clad in rags, returned to the palace, he was received with great honour, and was induced to exhibit his supernatural powers. He then again withdrew to a distant retreat beyond the frontier, where he fell ill. Asoka sent him medicine, and he recovered.

In those days it happened that a devoted adherent of the Brahman ascetics threw down and broke a statue of Buddha at Pundra Vardhana in Bengal. As a penalty for the sacrilege eighteen thousand inhabitants of that city were massacred in one day by order of Asoka. Some time after another fanatic at Pataliputra similarly overthrew a statue of Buddha. The persons concerned, with all their relatives and friends, were burned alive, and the king placed the price of a dinara on the head of every Brahmanical ascetic.

Now, when the proclamation was published Vitasoka, clad in his beggar’s garb, happened to be lodging for the night in the hut of a cowherd. The good wife, seeing the unkempt and dishevelled appearance of her guest, was convinced that he must be one of the proclaimed ascetics, and persuaded her husband to slay him in order to earn the reward. The cowherd carried his victim’s head to the king, who was horrified at the sight, and was persuaded by his ministers to revoke the proclamation. Not only did he revoke the cruel proclamation, but he gave the world peace by ordaining that henceforth no one should be put to death.

In Fa-hien’s version of the legend the brother of the king is anonymous. The pilgrim tells us that the younger brother of King Asoka lived the life of a recluse on the Vulture’s Peak hill near Rajagriha, where he had attained to the rank of a saint (arhat). The king invited the recluse to the palace, but the invitation was declined. The king then promised that if his brother would accept the invitation, he would make a hill for him inside the city. ‘Then the king, providing all sorts of meat and drink, invited the genii, and addressed them thus: “I beg you to accept my invitation for tomorrow; but as there are no seats, I must request you each to bring his own.” On the morrow the genii guests came, each one bringing with him a huge stone, four or five paces square. After the feast, he deputed the genii to pile up their seats, and make a great stone mountain ; and at the base of the mountain with five massive square stones to make a rock chamber, in length about 35 feet, and in breadth 22 feet, and in height 71 feet or so.’

The same story is told by Hiuen Tsang in order to explain the origin of the stone dwelling which was still to be seen at Pataliputra in the seventh century A. D.

The Story of Mahendra, and the conversion of Ceylon

King Asoka early in his reign had a half-brother, the son of his mother, who was younger than the king, and belonged to a noble family. The young man was extravagant, wasteful, and cruel in disposition. In his dress also he aped the royal costume.

The indignation of the people became so great that the ministers ventured to remonstrate with the king, and to say: ‘Your majesty’s brother in his pride assumes a dignity beyond his due. When the government is impartial, the subjects are contented; when the subjects are content, the sovereign is at peace. We desire that you should preserve the principles of government handed down to us by our fathers, and that you should deliver to justice the men who seek to change those principles.’

Then King Asoka, weeping, addressed his brother and said: ‘I have inherited from my ancestors the duty of protecting my people; how is it that you, my own brother, have forgotten my affection and kindness? It is impossible for me at the very beginning of my reign to disregard the laws. If I punish you, I dread the resentment of my ancestors; if I pass over your transgressions, I dread the ill opinion of my people.’

The prince, bowing his head, admitted his error, and begged for nothing more than a respite of seven days. The king granted this request, and threw his brother into a dark dungeon, though he provided him with exquisite food and all other luxuries. At the end of the first day the guard cried out to the prisoner: ‘One day has gone; six days are left.’ By the time the sixth day had expired, the prisoner’s repentance and discipline were complete. He attained at once to the rank of a saint (arahat), and feeling conscious of miraculous powers, ascended into the air.

Asoka went in person to the dungeon, and told his brother that having now, contrary to expectation, attained the highest degree of holiness he might return to his place. Mahendra replied that he had lost all taste for the pleasures of the world, and desired to live in solitude. Asoka consented, but pointed out that it was unnecessary for the prince to retire to the mountains, as a hermitage could be constructed at the capital. The king then caused the genii to build a stone house, as already related.

Mahendra, after his conversion, journeyed to the south of India, and built a monastery in the delta of the Kaveri (Cauvery), of which the ruins were still visible nine hundred years later.

He is also related to have made, use of his supernatural powers to pass through the air to Ceylon, in which island he spread the knowledge of the true law, and widely diffused the doctrine bequeathed to his disciples by the Master. From the time of Mahendra, the people of Ceylon, who had been addicted to a corrupt form of religion, forsook their ancient errors and heartily accepted the truth. The conversion of Ceylon, according to Hiuen Tsang, took place one hundred years after the death of Buddha.

The Story of Kunala

In the seventh century A. D. pilgrims were shown a stupa at Taxila, which was said to have been built by Asoka to mark the spot where the eyes of his beloved son Kunala were torn out. The story of Kunala is to the following effect.

After the death of his faithful consort Asandhimitra, King Asoka, late in life, married Tishyarakshita, a dissolute and unprincipled young woman. She cast amorous glances on her stepson Kunala, her worthy predecessor’s son, who was famous for the beauty of his eyes. The virtuous prince rejected with horror the advances made by his stepmother, who then became filled with ‘the spite of contemned beauty,’ and changed her hot love into bitter hate. In pursuance of a deep-laid scheme for the destruction of him who by his virtue had put her vice to shame, the queen with honied words persuaded the king to depute Kunala to the government of distant Taxila.

The prince obediently accepted the honourable commission, and when departing was warned by his father to verify orders received, which, if genuine, would be sealed with an impression of the king’s teeth. The queen bided her time, with ever-growing hatred. After the lapse of some months she wrote a dispatch, addressed to the viceroy’s ministers at Taxila, directing them immediately on receipt of the orders to put out the eyes of the viceroy, Prince Kunala, to lead him and his wife into the mountains, and to there leave them to perish.

She sealed the dispatch with royal red wax, and, when the king was asleep, furtively stamped the wax with the impression of his teeth, and sent off the orders with all speed to Taxila. The ministers who received the orders knew not what to do. The prince, noticing their confusion, compelled them to explain. The ministers wished to compromise by detaining the prince in custody, pending a reference to the capital. But the prince would not permit of any delay, and said: ‘My father, if he has ordered my death, must be obeyed; and the seal of his teeth is a sure sign of the correctness of the orders. No mistake is possible.’ He then commanded an outcaste wretch to pluck out his eyes. The order was obeyed, and the prince, accompanied by his faithful wife, wandered forth in sightless misery to beg his bread.

In the course of their weary wanderings they arrived at Pataliputra. ‘Alas,’ cried the blind man, ‘what pain I suffer from cold and hunger. I was a prince; I am a beggar. Would that I could make myself known, and get redress for the false accusations brought against me.’ He managed to penetrate into an inner court of the palace, where he lifted up his voice and wept, and, to the sound of a lute, sang a song full of sadness.

The king in an upper chamber heard the strains, and thinking that he recognized the voice and touch as those of his son, sent for the minstrel. The king, when he beheld his sightless son, was overwhelmed with grief, and inquired by whose contrivance all this misery had come about. The prince humbly replied: ‘In truth, for lack of filial piety I have thus been punished by Heaven. On such and such a day suddenly came a loving order, and I, having no means of excusing myself, dared not shrink from the punishment.’

The king, knowing in his heart that Queen Tishyarakshita was guilty of the crime, without further inquiry caused her to be burnt alive, and visited with condign punishment every person, high or low, who had any share in the outrage. The officials were some dismissed, some banished, some executed. The common people were, according to one account, massacred, and, according to another, transported across the Himalayas to the deserts of Khotan.

In those days a great saint named Ghosha dwelt in the monastery by the holy tree of Mahabodhi. To him the king brought Kunala, and prayed that his son might receive his sight. The saint commanded that on the morrow a great congregation should assemble to hear his preaching of the Law, and that each person should bring a vessel to receive his tears. A vast multitude of men and women assembled, and there was not one of those who heard the sermon but was moved to tears, which fell into the vessels provided.

The saint collected the tears in a golden vase, and said these words: ‘The doctrine which I have expounded is the most mysterious of Buddha’s teaching; if that exposition is not true, if there is error in what I have said, then let things remain as they are; but, if what I have said is true and free from error, let this man, after washing his eyes with these tears, receive his sight.’

Whereupon Kunala washed in the tears and received his sight.

A Story of Tishyarakshita

Tishyarakshita, queen of King Asoka, in pursuance of her incestuous passion for her stepson, Prince Kunala, who repulsed her advances, resolved to avenge herself, and, in order to accomplish her purpose, took advantage of the king’s sufferings from a dangerous and apparently incurable disease, to acquire complete control over his mind, and for some days she was granted unrestrained use of the sovereign power.

Asoka, believing his malady to be incurable, gave the order: ‘Send for Kunala; I wish to place him on the throne. What use is life to me?’ Tishyarakshita hearing these words, thought to herself: ‘If Kunala ascends the throne, I am lost.’ Accordingly she said to King Asoka: ‘I undertake to restore you to health, but a necessary condition is that you forbid all physicians to have access to the palace.’ The king complied with her request, and she enjoined everybody to bring to her any person, man or woman, who might be suffering from the same malady as the king.

Now it happened that a man of the shepherd caste was suffering from the same malady. His wife explained his case to a physician, who promised to prescribe a suitable remedy after examining the patient. The man then consulted the physician, who brought him to Queen Tishyarakshita. She had him conveyed to a secret place, where he was put to death. When his body was opened she perceived in his stomach a huge worm, which had deranged the bodily functions. She applied pounded pepper and ginger without effect, but when the worm was touched with an onion, he died immediately, and passed out of the intestines. The queen then begged the king to eat an onion and so recover his health. The king replied: ‘Queen, I am a Kshatriya; how can I eat an onion?’

‘My lord,’ answered the queen, ‘you should swallow it merely as physician’s order to save your life.’ The king then ate the onion, and the worm died, passing out of the intestines.

The Dotage of King Asoka

The king resolved to give a thousand millions of gold pieces to the Master’s service, and when far advanced in years had actually given nine hundred and sixty millions. In the hope that the vow would be completed before he died he daily sent great treasures of silver and gold to the Kukkutarama monastery at the capital. In those days Sampadi, the son of Kunala, was heir-apparent. To him the ministers pointed out that the king was ruining himself by his extravagance, and would, if permitted to continue it, be unable to resist the attacks of other monarchs or to protect the kingdom.

The prince, therefore, forbade the treasurer to comply with the king’s demands. Asoka, unable to obtain supplies from the treasury, began to give away the plate which furnished the royal table, first the gold, next the silver, and finally the iron. When all the metallic ware had been exhausted, the ministers furnished the king’s table with earthenware. Then Asoka demanded of them, ‘Who is king of this country?’ The ministers did obeisance and respectfully replied: ‘Your majesty is king.’ Asoka burst into tears, and cried: ‘Why do you say from kindness what is not true? I am fallen from my royal state. Save this half-apple there is nought of which I can dispose as sovereign.’ Then the king sent the half-apple to the Kukkutarama monastery, to be divided among the monks, who should be addressed in this wise: ‘Behold, this is my last gift; to this pass have come the riches of the emperor of India. My royalty and my power have departed; deprived of health, of physic, and of physicians, to me no support is left save that of the Assembly of the saints. Eat this fruit, which is offered with the intent that the whole Assembly may partake of it, my last gift.’

Once more King Asoka asked his minister Radhagupta: ‘Who is sovereign of this country?’ The minister did obeisance and respectfully replied: ‘Sire, your majesty is sovereign of this country.’

King Asoka, recovering his composure, responded in verse, and said:

This earth, encinctured by its sapphire zone,

This earth, bedecked with gleaming jewels rare,

This earth, of hills the everlasting throne,

This earth, of all creation mother fair,

I give to the Assembly.

The blessing which attends such gift be mine;

Not Indra’s halls nor Brahma’s courts I crave,

Nor yet the splendours which round monarchs shine,

And pass away, like rushing Ganga’s wave,

Abiding not a moment.

With faith unchangeable, which nought can shake,

This gift of Earth’s immeasurable sphere

I to the Saints’ Assembly freely make ;

And self-control I crave, of boons most dear,

A good which changeth never.

According to Fa-hien (chapter xxvii), this gift of the empire was recorded in an inscription on a stone pillar to the south of Pataliputra. The site of the pillar has not been identified with certainty. The speech of Asoka in prose is as follows:

‘This earth, which ocean enwraps in a glorious garment of sapphire, this earth whereof the face is adorned with mines of diverse jewels, this earth, which supports all creatures and Mount Madara, I give to the Assembly.

‘As the reward of this good deed I desire not to dwell in the palace of Indra, nor yet in that of Brahma, nor do I in any wise desire the felicity of kingship, which, quicker even than running water, passes away and is gone.

‘The reward which I crave for the perfect faith whereby I make this gift is that self-control which the saints honour, and which is a good exempt from change.’

King Asoka, having thus spoken, sealed the deed of gift, and presently fulfilled the law of mortality.

The forty millions of gold pieces which yet remained to complete King Asoka’s vow for the gift of a thousand millions, were expended by the ministers in the redemption of the earth, and Sampadi was placed upon the vacant throne. He was succeeded by his son Vrihaspati, who was succeeded in order by Vrishasena, Pushyadharma, and Pushpamitra (Pusyamitra).

Pusyamitra and the End of the Mauryan Line

Sampadin’s son was Brihaspati who in turn, had a son named Vrsasena, and Vrsasena had a son named Pusyadharman, and Pusyadharman begot Pusyamitra.

One day, the latter asked his ministers: “What can I do to make my name renowned forever?”

“In your majesty’s lineage,” they answered, “there was a king named Asoka who built eighty-four thousand dharmarajikas. His fame will endure as long as the Buddhist religion survives. Let your majesty also build eighty-four thousand dharmarajikas, and so be famous like him.”

But the king said: “King Asoka was great and distinguished; is there not some other means?”

Now Pusyamitra had a Brahmin priest who was a mean and faithless man. He declared: “Your majesty, there are two ways to make a name endure forever. King Asoka built eighty-four thousand dharmarajikas and is thereby famous. If you, on the other hand, were to destroy those dharmarajikas, your name would endure even longer.”

Then King Pusyamitra equipped a fourfold army, and intending to destroy the Buddhist religion, he went to Kukkutarama; but at the gate, he heard a lion’s roar, and frightened, he retreated to Pataliputra. A second time, and then again a third time, the same thing happened. Finally, he summoned the community and said to the monks: “I am going to destroy the religion of the Blessed One – would you rather keep the stupas or the sangharama?” The monks decided to keep the stupas. Pusyamitra therefore destroyed the sangharama, killed the monks there, and departed.

After some time, he arrived in Sakala, and proclaimed that he would give a hundred dinara reward to whomever brought him the head of a Buddhist monk. Now there was a certain arhat there who lived in a dharmarajika, and he started creating heads by means of his supernatural powers and giving them to the king. When the king learnt what was happening, he resolved to have the arhat put to death. The saint then entered the trance of cessation but did not cross over to the other side. The king [unable to kill him] finally gave up and went to Kosthaka.

There the yaksa Damstranivasin reasoned: “[If Pusyamitra is not killed] the Buddhist religion will die out; but I maintain the precepts – it is not possible for me to harm anyone whomsoever!” Now another yaksa, Krmisa was seeking the hand of Damstranivasin’s daughter in marriage, but Damstranivasin had refused him saying, “you are an evil-doer!” Now, however, he agreed to give Krmisa his daughter, on the condition that he take appropriate measures for the rescue and continued protection of the Buddhist religion.

Now King Pusyamitra had always behind him as his bodyguard a very big yaksa. He was so strong that the king was never beaten. But Damstranivasin grabbed that yaksa who was Pusyamitra’s aide-de-corps, and went for a walk in the mountains. Pusyamitra then fled south to the great ocean; but there the yaksa Krmisa took up a great mountain and set it down on top of Pusyamitra, his troops and his chariots. He was then given name Sunihita (“Well-put- down”). With the death of Pusyamitra, the Mauryan lineage came to an end.


Black Kaṇha, Rise


“Black Kaha, rise,” etc. This story the Master told in Jetavana about a son’s death. The circumstances are like those in the Maṭṭha-Kuṇḍali Birth. Here again the Master asked the lay brother, “Are you in grief, layman?” He replied, “Yes, Sir.” “Layman,” said the Master, “long ago wise men listened to the bidding of the wise, and did not grieve for the death of a son.” And at his request, he told a story of the past.

* * *

Once upon a time, a king named Mahākaṃsa reigned in Uttarāpatha, in the Kaṃsa district, in the city of Asitañjanā. He had two sons, Kaṃsa and Upakaṃsa, and one daughter named Devagabbhā. On her birthday the brahmins who foretold the future said of her: “A son born of this girl will one day destroy the country and the lineage of Kaṃsa.” The king was too fond of the girl to put her to death; but leaving her brothers to settle it, lived his days out, and then died. When he died Kaṃsa became king, and Upakaṃsa was viceroy. They thought that there would be an outcry were they to put their sister to death, so resolved to give her in marriage to none, but to keep her husbandless, and watch; and they built a single round-tower, for her to live in.

Now she had a serving-woman named Nandagopā, and the woman’s husband, Andhakaveṇhu, was the servant who watched her. At that time a king named Mahāsāgara reigned in Upper Madhurā, and he had two sons, Sāgara and Upasāgara. At their father’s death, Sāgara became king, and Upasāgara was viceroy. This lad was Upakaṃsa’s friend, brought up together with him and trained by the same teacher. But he intrigued in his brother’s zenana, and being detected, ran away to Upakaṃsa in the Kaṃsa estate. Upakaṃsa introduced him to king Kaṃsa, and the king had him in great honour.

Upasāgara while waiting upon the king observed the tower where dwelt Devagabbhā; and on asking who lived there, heard the story, and fell in love with the girl. And Devagabbhā one day saw him as he went with Upakaṃsa to wait upon the king. She asked who that was; and being told by Nandagopā that it was Upasāgara, son of the great king Sāgara, she too fell in love with him. Upasāgara gave a present to Nandagopā, saying, “Sister, you can arrange a meeting for me with Devagabbhā.” “Easy enough,” quoth Nandagopā, and told the girl about it. She being already in love with him, agreed at once. One night Nandagopā arranged a tryst, and brought Upasāgara up into the tower; and there he stayed with Devagabbhā. And by their constant intercourse, Devagabbhā conceived. By and bye it became known that she was with child, and the brothers questioned Nandagopā. She made them promise her pardon, and then told the ins and outs of the matter. When they heard the story, they thought, “We cannot put our sister to death. If she bears a daughter, we will spare the babe also; if a son, we will kill him.” And they gave Devagabbhā to Upasāgara to wife.

When her full time came to be delivered, she brought forth a daughter. The brothers on hearing this were delighted, and gave her the name of the Lady Añjanā. And they allotted to them a village for their estate, named Govaḍḍhamāna. Upasāgara took Devagabbhā and lived with her at the village of Govaḍḍhamāna.

Devagabbhā was again with child, and that very day Nandagopā conceived also. When their time was come, they brought forth on the same day, Devagabbhā a son and Nandagopā a daughter. But Devagabbhā, in fear that her son might be put to death, sent him secretly to Nandagopā, and received Nandagopā’s daughter in return. They told the brothers of the birth. “Son or daughter?” they asked. “Daughter,” was the reply. “Then see that it is reared,” said the brothers. In the same way Devagabbhā bore ten sons, and Nandagopā ten daughters. The sons lived with Nandagopā and the daughters with Devagabbhā, and not a soul knew the secret.

The eldest son of Devagabbhā was named Vāsu-deva, the second Baladeva, the third Canda-deva, the fourth Suriya-deva, the fifth Aggi-deva, the sixth Varuṇa-deva, the seventh Ajjuna, the eighth Pajjuna, the ninth Ghata-paṇḍita, the tenth Aṁkura. They were well known as the sons of Andhakaveṇhu the servitor, the Ten Slave-Brethren.

In course of time they grew big, and being very strong, and withal fierce and ferocious, they went about plundering, they even went so far as to plunder a present being conveyed to the king. The people came crowding in the king’s court yard, complaining, “Andhakaveṇhu’s sons, the Ten Brethren, are plundering the land!” So the king summoned Andhakaveṇhu, and rebuked him for permitting his sons to plunder. In the same way complaint was made three or four times, and the king threatened him. He being in fear of his life craved the boon of safety from the king, and told the secret, that how these were no sons of his, but of Upasāgara. The king was alarmed. “How can we get hold of them?” he asked his courtiers. They replied, “Sire, they are wrestlers. Let us hold a wrestling match in the city, and when they enter the ring we will catch them and put them to death.” So they sent for two wrestlers, Cānura and Muṭṭhika, and caused proclamation to be made throughout the city by beat of drum, “that on the seventh day there would be a wrestling match.”

The wrestling ring was prepared in front of the king’s gate; there was an enclosure for the games, the ring was decked out gaily, the flags of victory were ready tied. The whole city was in a whirl; line over line rose the seats, tier above tier. Cānura and Muṭṭhika went down into the ring, and strutted about, jumping, shouting, clapping their hands. The Ten Brethren came too. On their way they plundered the washer men’s street, and clad themselves in robes of bright colours, and stealing perfume from the perfumers’ shops, and wreaths of flowers from the florists, with their bodies all anointed, garlands upon their heads, earrings in their ears, they strutted into the ring, jumping, shouting, clapping their hands.

At the moment, Cānura was walking about and clapping his hands. Baladeva, seeing him, thought, “I won’t touch yon fellow with my hand!” so catching up a thick strap from the elephant stable, jumping and shouting he threw it round Cānura’s belly, and joining the two ends together, brought them tight, then lifting him up, swung him round over his head, and dashing him on the ground rolled him outside the arena. When Cānura was dead, the king sent for Muṭṭhika. Up got Muṭṭhika, jumping, shouting, clapping his hands. Baladeva smote him, and crushed in his eyes; and as he cried out—”I’m no wrestler! I’m no wrestler!” Baladeva tied his hands together, saying, “Wrestler or no wrestler, it is all one to me,” and dashing him down on the ground, killed him and threw him outside the arena.

Muṭṭhika in his death-throes, uttered a prayer—”May I become a goblin, and devour him!” And he became a goblin, in a forest called by the name of Kāḷamattiya. The king said, “Take away the Ten Slave-Brethren.” At that moment, Vāsudeva threw a wheel 1, which lopped off the heads of the two brothers. The crowd, terrified, fell at his feet, and besought him to be their protector.

Thus the Ten Brethren, having slain their two uncles, assumed the sovereignty of the city of Asitañjanā, and brought their parents thither.

They now set out, intending to conquer all India. In a while they arrived at the city of Ayojjhā, the seat of king Kāḷasena. This they encompassed about, and destroyed the jungle around it, breached the wall and took the king prisoner, and took the sovereignty of the place into their hands. Thence they proceeded to Dvāravatī. Now this city had on one side the sea and on one the mountains. They say that the place was goblin-haunted. A goblin would be stationed on the watch, who seeing his enemies, in the shape of an ass would bray as the ass brays. At once, by goblin magic the whole city used to rise in the air, and deposit itself on an island in the midst of the sea; when the foe was gone, it would come back and settle in its own place again. This time, as usual, no sooner the ass saw those Ten Brethren coming, than he brayed with the bray of an ass. Up rose the city in the air, and settled upon the island. No city could they see, and turned back; then back came the city to its own place again. They returned—again the ass did as before. The sovereignty of the city of Dvāravatī they could not take.

So they visited Kaṇha-dīpāyana, and said: “Sir, we have failed to capture the kingdom of Dvāravatī; tell us how to do it.” He said: “In a ditch, in such a place, is an ass walking about. He brays when he sees an enemy, and immediately the city rises in the air. You must clasp hold of his feet, and that is the way to accomplish your end.” Then they took leave of the ascetic; and went all ten of then to the ass, and falling at his feet, said, “Sir, we have no help but thee! When we come to take the city, do not bray!” The ass replied, “I cannot help braying. But if you come first, and four of you bring great iron ploughs, and at the four gates of the city dig great iron posts into the ground, and when the city begins to rise, if you will fix on the post a chain of iron fastened to the plough, the city will not be able to rise.” They thanked him; and he did not utter a sound while they got ploughs, and fixed the posts in the ground at the four gates of the city, and stood waiting. Then the ass brayed, the city began to rise, but those who stood at the four gates with the four ploughs, having fixed to the posts iron chains which were fastened to the ploughs, the city could not rise. Thereupon the Ten Brethren entered the city, killed the king, and took his kingdom.

Thus they conquered all India, and in three and sixty thousand cities they slew by the wheel all the kings of them, and lived at Dvāravatī, dividing the kingdom into ten shares. But they had forgotten their sister, the Lady Añjanā. So “Let us make eleven shares of it,” said they. But Aṁkura answered, “Give her my share, and I will take to some business for a living; only you must remit my taxes each in your own country.” They consented, and gave his share to his sister; and with her they dwelt in Dvāravatī, nine kings, while Aṁkura embarked in trade.

In course of time, they were all increased with sons and with daughters; and after a long time had gone by, their parents died. At that period, they say that a man’s life was twenty thousand years.

Then died one clearly beloved son of the great King Vāsudeva. The king, half dead with grief, neglected everything, and lay lamenting, and clutching the frame of his bed. Then Ghatapaṇḍita thought to himself, “Except me, no one else is able to soothe my brother’s grief; I will find some means of soothing his grief for him.” So assuming the appearance of madness, he paced through the whole city, gazing up at the sky, and crying out, “Give me a hare! Give me a hare!” All the city was excited: “Ghatapaṇḍita has gone mad!” they said. Just then a courtier named Rohiṇeyya, went into the presence of King Vāsudeva, and opened a conversation with him by reciting the first stanza:

“Black Kanha, rise! why close the eyes to sleep? why lying there
Thine own born brother—see, the winds away his wit do bear,
Away his wisdom! Ghata raves, thou of the long black hair!”

* * *

When the courtier had thus spoken, the Master perceiving that he had risen, in his Perfect Wisdom uttered the second stanza:

“So soon the long-haired Kesava heard Rohiṇeyya’s cry,
He rose all anxious and distrest for Ghata’s misery.”

* * *

Up rose the king, and quickly came down from his chamber; and proceeding to Ghatapaṇḍita, he got fast hold of him with both hands; and speaking to him, uttered the third stanza:

“In maniac fashion, why do you pace Dvāraka all through,
And cry, “Hare, hare!” Say, who is there has taken a hare from you?”

To these words of the king, he only answered by repeating the same cry over and over again. But the king recited two more stanzas:

“Be it of gold, or made of jewels fine,
Or brass, or silver, as you may incline,
    Shell, stone, or coral, I declare
    I’ll make a hare.

“And many other hares there be, that range the woodland wide,
They shall be brought, I’ll have them caught; say, which do you decide?”

On hearing the king’s words, the wise man replied by repeating the sixth stanza:

“I crave no hare of earthly kind, but that within the moon:
O bring him down, O Kesava! I ask no other boon!”

“Undoubtedly my brother has gone mad,” thought the king, when he heard this. In great grief, he repeated the seventh stanza:

“In sooth, my brother, you will die, if you make such a prayer,
And ask for what no man may pray, the moon’s celestial hare.”

Ghatapaṇḍita, on hearing the king’s answer, stood stock still, and said: “My brother, you know that if a man prays for the hare in the moon, and cannot get it, he will die; then why do you mourn for your dead son?”

“If, Kanha, this you know, and can console another’s woe,
Why are you mourning still the son who died so long ago?”

Then he went on, standing there in the street—”And I, brother, pray only for what exists, but you are mourning for what does not exist.” Then he instructed him by repeating two more stanzas:

“My son is born, let him not die!” Nor man nor deity
Can have that boon; then wherefore pray for what can never be?

“Nor mystic charm, nor magic roots, nor herbs, nor money spent,
Can bring to life again that ghost whom, Kanha, you lament.”

The King, on hearing this, answered, “Your intent was good, dear one. You did it to take away my trouble.” Then in praise of Ghatapaṇḍita he repeated four stanzas:

“Men had I, wise and excellent to give me good advice:
But how hath Ghatapaṇḍita opened this day mine eyes!

“Blazing was I, as when a man pours oil upon a fire;
Thou didst bring water, and didst quench the pain of my desire.

“Grief for my son, a cruel shaft was lodged within my heart;
Thou hast consoled me for my grief, and taken out the dart.

“That dart extracted, free from pain, tranquil, and calm I keep;
Hearing, O youth, thy words of truth, no more I grieve nor weep.”

* * *

And lastly:

“Thus do the merciful, and thus they who are wise indeed:
They free from pain, as Ghata here his eldest brother freed.”

This is the stanza of Perfect Wisdom.

* * *

In this manner was Vāsudeva consoled by Prince Ghata.

After the lapse of a long time, during which he ruled his kingdom, the sons of the ten brethren thought: “They say that Kaṇhadīpāyana is possest of divine insight. Let us put him to the test.” So they procured a young lad, and drest him up, and by binding a pillow about his belly, made it appear as though he were with child. Then they brought him into his presence, and asked him, “When, Sir, will this woman be delivered?” The ascetic perceived that the time was come for the destruction of the ten royal brothers; then, looking 1 to see what the term of his own life should be, he perceived that he must die that very day. Then he said, “Young sirs, what is this man to you?” “Answer us,” they replied persistently. He answered, “This man on the seventh day from now will bring forth a knot of acacia wood. With that he will destroy the line of Vāsudeva, even though ye should take the piece of wood and burn it, and cast the ashes into the river.” “Ah, false ascetic!” said they, “a man can never bring forth a child!” and they did the rope and string business, and killed him at once. The kings sent for the young men, and asked them why they had killed the ascetic. When they heard all, they were frightened. They set a guard upon the man; and when on the seventh day he voided from his belly a knot of acacia wood, they burnt it, and cast the ashes into the river. The ashes floated down the river, and stuck on one side by a postern gate; from thence sprung an eraka plant.

One day, the kings proposed that they should go and disport themselves in the water. So to this postern gate they came; and they caused a great pavilion to be made, and in that gorgeous pavilion they ate and drank. Then in sport they began to catch hold of hand and foot, and dividing into two parts, they became very quarrelsome. At last one of them, finding nothing better for a club, picked a leaf from the eraka plant, which even as he plucked it became a club of acacia wood in his hand. With this he beat many people. Then the others plucked also, and the things as they took them became clubs, and with them they cudgelled one another until they were killed. As these were destroying each other, four only—Vāsudeva, Baladeva, the lady Añjanā their sister, and the chaplain—mounted a chariot and fled away; the rest perished, every one.

Now these four, fleeing away in the chariot, came to the forest of Kāḷamattikā. There Muṭṭhika the Wrestler had been born, having become according to his prayer a goblin. When he perceived the coming of Baladeva, he created a village in that spot; and taking the semblance of a wrestler, he went jumping about, and shouting, “Who’s for a fight?” snapping his fingers the while. Baladeva, as soon as he saw him, said, “Brother, I’ll try a fall with this fellow.” Vāsudeva tried and tried his best to prevent him; but down he got from the chariot, and went up to him, snapping his fingers. The other just seized him in the hollow of his hand, and gobbled him up like a radish-bulb. Vāsudeva, perceiving that he was dead, went on all night long with his sister and the chaplain, and at sunrise arrived at a frontier village. He lay down in the shelter of a bush, and sent his sister and the chaplain into the village, with orders to cook some food and bring it to him. A huntsman (his name was Jarā, or Old Age) noticed the bush shaking. “A pig, sure enough,” thought he; he threw a spear, and pierced his feet. “Who has wounded me?” cried out Vāsudeva. The huntsman, finding that he had wounded a man, set off running in terror. The king, recovering his wits, got up, and called the huntsman—”Uncle, come here, don’t be afraid!” When he came—”Who are you?” asked Vāsudeva. “My name is Jarā, my lord.” “Ah,” thought the king, “whom Old Age wounds will die, so the ancients used to say. Without doubt I must die to-day.” Then he said, Fear not, Uncle; come, bind up my wound.” The mouth of the wound bound up, the king let him go. Great pains came upon him; he could not eat the food that the others brought. Then addressing himself to the others, Vāsudeva said: “This day I am to die. You are delicate creatures, and will never be able to learn anything else for a living; so learn this science from me.” So saying, he taught them a science, and let them go; and then died immediately.

Thus excepting the lady Añjanā, they perished every one, it is said.

* * *

When the Master had ended this discourse, he said, “Lay Brother, thus people have got free from grief for a son by attending to the words of wise men of old; do not you think about it.” Then he declared the Truths (at the conclusion of the Truths the Lay Brother was established in the fruit of the First Path), and identified the Birth: “At that time, Ānanda was Rohiṇeyya, Sāriputta was Vāsudeva, the followers of the Buddha were the other persons, and I myself was Ghatapaṇḍita.”


The Legend of Arishtanemi and Rajimati


In the town of Sauryapura there was a powerful king, Vasudêva by name, who possessed the characteristic marks of a king. He had two wives, Rôhinî and Dêvakî; each of them had a beloved son, Râma and Kêsava.

In the town of Sauryapura there was (another) powerful king, Samudravigaya by name, who possessed the characteristic marks of a king. His wife was Sivâ by name; and her famous son was the venerable Arishtanêmi, the saviour of the world and the lord of ascetics.

This Arishtanêmi, who was gifted with an excellent voice and possessed the thousand and eight lucky marks of the body, was a Gautama, and his skin was black. His body was strong like that of a bull, and hard like steel; he was well proportioned, and had a belly like that of a fish. Kêsava asked the girl Râjîmatî in marriage for him.

Now this daughter of an excellent king was virtuous and well looking; she possessed all lucky marks of the body, and shone forth like the lightning Saudâmanî. Her father said to the powerful Vâsudêva: ‘Let the prince come here that I may give him my daughter.’

He had taken a bath containing all (lucky) herbs, and had performed the customary ceremonies; he wore a suit of heavenly clothes and was decked out with ornaments. Riding on the best mast elephant of Vâsudêva he looked beautiful, like a jewel worn on the head. He sat under a raised umbrella, fanned by two chowries, and he was surrounded on all sides by a host of Dasârhas and by a complete army drawn up in rank and file, while the heavenly sound of musical instruments reached the sky. With such pomp and splendour the hero of the Vrishnis started from his own palace.

On his way he saw animals, kept in cages and enclosures, overcome by fear and looking miserable. Seeing them on the point of being killed for the sake of their flesh, and to be eaten afterwards, the great sage spoke to his charioteer thus: ‘Why are all these animals, which desire to be happy, kept in cages and enclosures?’

Then the charioteer answered: ‘Lucky are these animals because at thy wedding they will furnish food for many people.’

Having heard these words, which announced the slaughter of many animals, the great sage, full of compassion and kindness to living beings, meditated thus: ‘If for my sake many living beings are killed, I shall not obtain happiness in the next world.’ Then the famous man presented the charioteer with his pair of earrings, his neck-chain, and all his ornaments.

When he had formed his resolution, the gods descended (from heaven), according to the established custom, to celebrate, with great pomp together with their retinue, the event of his renunciation. Surrounded by gods and men, and sitting on an excellent palankin, the Venerable One left Dvârakâ and ascended mount Raivataka.

On arriving at the park he descended from his excellent palankin, surrounded by a crowd of thousands, and then his renunciation took place, while the moon was in conjunction with Citrâ. Then he himself plucked out his delightfully-perfumed, soft, and curled hair in five handfuls.

And Vâsudêva said to that subduer of the senses, who had plucked out his hair: ‘O lord of ascetics, may you soon obtain what you wish and desire. Increase in knowledge, faith, and right conduct, in forbearance and perfection!’  In this manner Râma and Kêsava, the Dasârhas, and many people paid homage to Arishtanêmi and then returned to the town of Dvârakâ.

When the daughter of the king heard of the ordination of the Jina, laughter and gaiety forsook her, and she was overwhelmed with affliction. Râjîmatî thought: ‘Shame upon my life, that I have been forsaken by him! it is better I should turn nun.’ Firm and decided she cut off her tresses which were black like bees and dressed with a brush and comb.

And Vâsudêva said to her who had cut off her hair, and subdued her senses: ‘Lady, cross the dreadful ocean of the Samsâra without difficulty!’

When she had entered the order, the virtuous and very learned lady induced there many people, her relations and servants, to enter the order too.

On her way to mount Raivataka it began to rain; her clothes being wet, she entered a cave and waited there in the darkness while it was raining. She took off her clothes and was naked as she was born, thus she was seen by Rathanêmi, whose (peace of) mind became (thereby) disturbed; and afterwards she saw him. She was frightened when she discovered herself alone with the monk; folding her arms over her breast she sank down trembling.

When the prince, Samudravijaya’s son, saw her frightened and trembling, he spoke the following words: ‘I am Rathanêmi, O dear, beautiful, sweetly-speaking lady! Do accept me for your lover, O slender one, you shall have no cause to complain. Come, let us enjoy pleasures, for it is a rare chance to be born a human being; after we have enjoyed pleasures, we shall enter on the path of the Jinas.’

When Râjîmatî perceived that Rathanêmi’s strength of will was broken, and temptation had got the better of him, she did not lose her presence of mind and defended her Self on that occasion. The daughter of the best king, true to self-control and her vows, maintained the honour of her clan and family, and her virtue, and spoke to him: ‘If you owned the beauty of Vaisramana, the pleasing manners of Nalakûbara, if you were like Purandara himself, I should have no desire for you.

‘Fie upon you, famous knight, who want to quaff the vomited drink for the sake of this life; it would be better for you to die.

‘I am the daughter of the Bhôja-king, and you are an Andhakavrishni; being born in a noble family let us not become like Gandhana-snakes; firmly practise self-control!

‘If you fall in love with every woman you see, you will be without hold like the Hatha-plant, driven before the wind.

‘As a herdsman or a keeper of goods does not own the things (he has the care of), so you will not truly own Sramanahood.’

Having heard these well-spoken words of the virtuous lady, he returned to the Law like an elephant driven by the hook. Protected in thoughts, words, and acts, subduing his senses and keeping the vows, he practised true Sramanahood throughout life. After practising severe austerities both of them became Kêvalins, and having completely annihilated their Karman, they reached the highest perfection.

Thus act the enlightened, the wise, the clever ones; they turn from pleasures as did this best of men. Thus I say.


The Birth of Bhrgu, Angiras and Atri

Prajapati, desirous of offspring, offered a sessional sacrifice (sattra) lasting three years, accompanied by the Sadhyas and the All-gods, we are told (iti). Thither came Vac in bodily form to the ceremony of initiation. On seeing her there simultaneously Ka’s (Prajapati’s) and Varuna’s semen was effused. Vayu scattered it in the fire at his will. Then from the flames Bhrgu was born, (and) the seer Angiras among the coals (angara). Vac, on seeing the two sons, herself being seen, said to Prajapati: ‘May a third seer also, in addition to these two, be (born) to me as a son.’  Prajapati (thus) addressed, replied ‘So be it’ to Bharati (Vac). Then the seer Atri was born, equal in splendour to Sun and Fire. Brhaspati was the son of the seer who was born from the coals (Angiras). Brhaspati’s (son) Bharadvaja, who is called Vidathin, and who was a preceptor among the Maruts, was (thus) the grandson of Angiras. 


The Origin of Agastya and Vasistha


Kasyapa’s wives

The son of Prajapati was Marici, Marici’s son was the sage Kasyapa. He had thirteen divine wives, the daughters of Daksa : Aditi, Diti, Danu, Kala, Danayu, Simhika, Muni, Krodha, Visva and Varistha, Surabhi and Vinata, and Kadru by name: (these) daughters he (Daksa) gave to Kasyapa.

From them the Gods and Asuras, the Gandharvas, the Serpents, the Raksasas, Birds, Pisacas, and other classes (of beings) were produced.

Now among these (daughters) the one goddess Aditi produced twelve sons. (These were) Bhaga, Aryaman, and Amsa, Mitra and Varuna, Dhatr and Vidhatr, and Vivasvat of great brilliance, Tvastr, Pusan, and also Indra; the twelfth is called Visnu. (Thus) that pair was born of her — Mitra and Varuna.

Story of Mitra-Varuna and Urvasi

Of these two Adityas, when they saw the nymph Urvasi at a sacrificial session, the semen was effused. It fell into a jar containing water that stood overnight. Now at that same moment two vigorous ascetics, the seers Agastya and Vasistha, there came into being.

Birth of Agastya and Vasistha

Now the semen having fallen in various ways — in a jar, in water, on the ground — the sage Vasistha, best of seers, was produced on the ground; while Agastya was produced in the jar, (and) Matsya, of great brilliance, in the water.

Then Agastya, of great glory, arose being the length of a peg (samya). Because he was meted with a measure, he is here called Manya; or else (because) the seer was born from a jar. For measurement is made with a jar also: by ‘jar’ (kumbha) the designation of a measure of capacity (parimana) is indicated.

Then, as the waters were being taken up (grhyamana), Vasistha was (found) standing on a lotus (puskara). There on every side the All-gods supported the lotus. Arising out of that water he (Vasistha) then performed great austerity. His name arose, with reference to his virtue (gunatah), from the root vas expressive of pre-eminence: for he once upon a time, by means of austerity, saw Indra who was invisible to (other) seers. The Lord of Bay Steeds (Indra) then proclaimed to him (that he should receive) shares in Soma.

Vasistha and his descendants

Vasistha and the Vasisthas thus (became) Brahmans in the office of Brahman priest a , most worthy of fees in all rites at sacrifices. Therefore one should honour with fees all such descendants of Vasistha who may at any time even to-day be present at a sacrificial assembly, so (says) the sacred-text of the Bhallavins.


The Origins of Rudra

From Prajapati, when he had become enfeebled, the deities departed. Only one god, Manyu, did not leave him, but continued extended within him. Prajapati wept. The tears that fell from his eyes remained in that ‘Manyu’. He became Rudra with a hundred heads, a hundred eyes, and a hundred quivers. Then the other drops that fell from him in unnumbered thousands entered into these worlds. They were called Rudra because they sprang from him when he had wept. This Rudra with a thousand heads, eyes, and quivers, stood with his bow strong, and arrows on the string, causing terror, and demanding food. The gods were afraid of him. They said to Prajapati,: ‘We are afraid of this being, lest he destroy us.’ Prajapati said to them: ‘Collect for him food, and with it appease him.’ They collected for him this food, the Satarudriya.


The Origin of Daksa


Now listen to the progeny of Prthu. Two very valiant sons were born to Prthu. They were Antardhi and Pāvana. Śikhandinī gave birth to Havirdhāna (the son) of Antardhāna (same as Antardhi). Dhisanā, the daughter of Agni (Agneyī) gave birth to six sons of Havirdhāna—viz. Prācina-Barhis, Śukla, Gaya, Krsna, Praja and Ajina. Lord Prācīnabarhis was a great Prajāpati (Lord of the subjects, or sovereign ruler). On account of his strength, learning, penance and virility, he was the sole monarch of the Earth. His Darbha grasses had their tips towards the East.1 Hence, he was known as Pracīnabarhis. After a great penance, that Prajāpati married Savarnā, the daughter of the ocean. Savarnā, the daughter of the ocean, gave birth to ten sons of Prācīnabarhis. All of them were masters of the Science of archery. They were called Pracetas (collectively).

Performing pious rites (collectively) without beingseparated from one another, they underwent severe penance for ten thousand years lying down within the waters of the ocean. While they were performing the penance, the trees encompassed the Earth that was not being protected. Then there was the destruction of subjects. This happened when the Cāksusa Manvantara passed by. The whole firmament became enveloped by the trees and hence the wind was unable to blow. For ten thousand years, the subjects were unable to carry on their activities. On hearing about it all, those Pracetas equipped with the power of penance, became infuriated and they created wind and fire out of their mouths. The wind uprooted the trees and dried them up. The fire burned them. Thus there was a terrible destruction of trees.

On coming to know of the destruction of the trees and when a few trees remained, King Soma (the Moon god) approached these Pracetas and said—” Now that you have seen the purpose realised, O Kings, sons of Prācīnabarhis, get rid of your anger for the continuity of the world. The trees will grow on the Earth. Let the fire and wind be calm. This fair-complexioned daughter of the tree has become the crest-jewel of all women. This girl has been held (and nurtured) in the womb by me, as I had already known the future events. She is Mārisā by name, and has been created by the trees themselves. Let this girl who has been nurtured in the womb of Soma (the Moon-god) be your wife. With half of your splendour and with half of mine, the scholarly Prajāpati, Daksa will be born of her. He is on a par with fire. He will make these subjects flourish once again, the subjects who have been mostly burned down by the fire of your splendour”.

Thereafter, at the instance of Soma, those Pracetas controlled their anger and as per religious procedure accepted from the trees, the girl Mārisā as their wife. Thereafter, they mentally impregnated Mārisā. Prajāpati Daksa was born of Mārisa as the son of all the ten Pracetas. He had excessive splendour on account of the part of Soma (the Moon god). He was vigorous.

In the beginning Daksa created subjects mentally and later on (he created them) through sexual intercourse. After mentally creating the mobile and immobile beings and the bipeds and quadrupeds, Daksa created women. He gave ten daughters to Dharma; thirteen to Kaśyapa and twenty-seven (daughters) who were suitable for passing (calculation) of the time (i.e. the Constellations) to (the Moon) god. After giving (the daughters) to these, he gave four others to Aristanemi; two to Bāhuputra and two to Ańgiras. He gave one daughter to Krśāśva. Children were born of them. This is sung ab’out as the Sixth Manvantara of Cāksusa Manu.