[XX. The Complete Emancipation of the Elders]

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[The Passing of King Asoka]
1-13 ≠ Mhv 1-6

The resplendent King Dhammāsoka established his reign in the noble Pāṭali town, and in the eighteenth year his friend the Great King Piyatissa sent his messengers to the splendid Rose-Apple Island, saying to them: “By the bidding of the wise and virtuous Mahinda please bring the Great Bodhi Tree and the Elder Nun Saṅghamittā,” and he planted the Great Bodhi Tree in the Great Cloud Grove monastery.

Twelve years after that the King’s Chief Queen, the dear Asandhimittā, who was devoted to the Perfectly Awakened One, being oppressed by disease fell into the mouth of Death.

After a further four years, the Lord of the World Dhammāsoka, having taken another Queen, Tissadevī by name, appointed this contrary one to Chief Queen in his loss.

Three years later, being foolishly proud of her beauty, faithless and without devotion to the Teacher’s Dispensation, delighting in her beauty, which made her rejoice, and being very vain about her birth and lineage, seeing the Guardian of the World constantly going to worship the Great Bodhi Tree, together with his assembly, she became jealous.

Then the Queen thinking like this: “The King is more devoted to this Great Bodhi Tree, than to me,” came under the influence of anger, and being one who works against her own benefit, she destroyed the Great Bodhi Tree with a poisonous thorn. The maṇḍu (or elsewhere maṇḍuka) thorn is unidentified, but it is mentioned both in the Vinaya commentary (on the Pārājika), and in the Jātaka commentary (Jā 186).01

The King made his reign for thirty-seven years in all. This figure – and the ones above that precede it – agree with Mhv, but in that text the King is said to have died four years after the Bodhi Tree was poisoned, which would have made 41 years in all.02 On the fourth day after the day the destruction of the Bodhi Tree was instigated, having become sorrowful and depressed, oppressed by sickness, the greatly famous Dhammāsoka came under the sway of impermanence. A figurative way of saying he died.03