Ja 264 Mahāpanādajātaka Cp. Divyāvadāna, p. 57.
The Story about (the King of Mithilā) Mahāpanāda (3s)

In the present the Buddha goes to teach in one village where there was a young and very rich gentleman, who, when he heard the Buddha teach he gave up his previous life and became a monk. When one day they were crossing a river the Buddha asked him to show the palace he had lived in in a previous life, which had sunk under the waters. He did so, and the Buddha then told the story of his previous fame and fortune.

The Bodhisatta = (the King of the Devas) Sakka,
Bhaddaji = (king) (of Mithilā) Mahāpanāda.

Keywords: Repute, Glory, Devas.

“ ’Twas king Panāda.” This story the Teacher told when he was settled on the bank of the Ganges, about the miraculous power of elder Bhaddaji.

On one occasion, when the Teacher had passed the rains at Sāvatthi, he thought he would show kindness to a young gentleman named Bhaddaji. So with all the monks who were with him, he made his way to the city of Bhaddiya, and stayed three months in Jātiyā Grove, waiting until the young man should mature and perfect his knowledge. Now young Bhaddaji was a magnificent person, the only son of a rich merchant in Bhaddiya, with a fortune of eight hundred millions. He had three houses for the three seasons, in each of which he stayed four months; and after spending this period in one of them, he used to migrate with all his kith and kin to another in the greatest pomp. On these occasions all the town was eager to see the young man’s magnificence; and between these houses used to be erected seats in circles on circles and tiers above tiers.

When the Teacher had been there three months, he informed the townspeople that he intended to leave. Begging him to wait until the morrow, the townsfolk on the following day collected magnificent gifts for the Buddha and his attendant monks; and set up a pavilion in the midst of the town, decorating it and laying out seats; then they announced that the hour had come. The Teacher [2.230] with his company went and took their seats there. Everybody gave generously to them. After the meal was over, the Teacher in a voice sweet as honey returned thanks to them.

At this moment, young Bhaddaji was passing from one of his residences to another. {2.332} But that day not a soul came to see his splendour; only his own people were about him. So he asked his people how it was. Usually all the city was eager to see him pass from house to house; circles on circles and tiers above tiers the seats were built; but just then there was nobody but his own followers! What could be the reason?

The reply was, “My lord, the Supreme Buddha has been spending three months near the town, and this day he leaves. He has just finished his meal, and is holding a discourse. All the town is there listening to his words.”

“Oh, very well, we will go and hear him too,” said the young man. So, in a blaze of ornaments, with his crowd of followers about him, he went and stood on the skirt of the crowd; as he heard the discourse, he threw off all his defilements, and attained to supreme fruition and became an Arahat.

The Teacher, addressing the merchant of Bhaddiya, said: “Sir, your son, in all his splendour, while hearing my discourse has become an Arahat; this very day he should either embrace the ascetic life, or enter Nibbāna.”

“Sir,” replied he, “I do not wish my son to enter Nibbāna. Admit him to the monastic order; this done, come with him to my house tomorrow.”

The Fortunate One accepted this invitation; he took the young gentleman to the monastery, admitted him to the Saṅgha, and afterward to the lower and higher ordinations. For a week the youth’s parents showed generous hospitality to him.

After remaining these seven days, the Teacher went on alms pilgrimage, taking the young man with him, and arrived at a village called Koṭi. The villagers of Koṭi gave generously to the Buddha and his followers. At the end of this meal, the Teacher began to express his thanks. While this was being done, the young gentleman went outside the village, and by a landing-place of the Ganges he sat down under a tree, and plunged in Absorption, thinking that he would rise as soon as the Teacher should come. When the elders of greatest age approached, he did not rise, but he rose as soon as the Teacher came. The unconverted folk were angry because he behaved as though he were a monk of long standing, not rising up even when he saw the eldest monks approach.

The villagers constructed rafts. This done, {2.333} the Teacher asked where Bhaddaji was. “There he is, sir.” “Come, Bhaddaji, come aboard my raft.” The elder rose, and followed him to his raft. When they were in mid-river, the Teacher asked him a question.

“Bhaddaji, where is the palace you lived in when Great Panāda was king?” “Here, under the water,” was the reply. The worldly monks said one to the other, “Elder Bhaddaji is declaring his knowledge!” For an explanation of this phrase, aññaṁ vyākaroti, see Mahāvagga r. v. 19 with the translators’ note (Sacred Books of the East, Vinaya Texts ii. p. 10). Then the Teacher bade him disperse the doubt of his fellow-students.

In a moment, the elder, with a bow to his Teacher, moving by his Supernormal Powers, took the whole pile of the palace on his finger, and rose in the air bearing the palace with him (it covered a space of twenty-five leagues); then he made a hole in it and showed himself to the present inhabitants of the palace below, and tossed the building above the water first one league, then two, then three. Then those who had been his kinsfolk in this former existence, who had now become fish or tortoises, water-snakes or frogs, because they loved the palace so much, and had come to life in the very same place, wriggled out of it when it rose up, and tumbled over and over into the water again. When the Teacher saw this, he said: “Bhaddaji, your relations are in trouble.” At his Teacher’s words the elder let the palace go, and it sank to the place where it had been before.

The Teacher passed to the further side of the Ganges. Then they prepared [2.231] him a seat just on the river bank. On the seat prepared for the Buddha, he sat, like the sun fresh risen pouring forth his rays. Then the monks asked him when it was that elder Bhaddaji had lived in that palace. The Teacher answered, “In the days of king Great Panāda,” and went on to tell them a story of the past.

In the past, a certain Suruci was king of Mithilā, which is a town in the kingdom of Videha. He had a son, named Suruci likewise, and he again had a son, Mahāpanāda. They obtained possession of that mansion. They obtained it by a deed done in a former existence. A father and son made a hut of leaves with canes and branches of the fig tree, as a dwelling for a Paccekabuddha.

The rest of the story will be told in the Surucijātaka [Ja 489], Book XIV. {2.334}

When they died, they were born in the heaven of the Thirty-Three, and dwelt in the six heavens of sense one after the other in direct and in reverse succession, enjoying great majesty among the gods. These two after dying in that region were desirous of winning to the upper Deva world. Sakka perceiving that one of them would be the Tathāgata, went to the door of their mansion, and saluting him as he arose and came to meet him, said: “Sir, you must go into the world of men.” But he said: “O king, the world of men is hateful and loathsome: they who dwell there do good and give alms longing for the world of the gods. What shall I do when I get there?” “Sir, you shall enjoy in perfection all that can be enjoyed in that world; you shall dwell in a palace made with stones of price, five and twenty leagues in height. Do consent.” He consented.

When Sakka had received his promise, in the guise of a sage he descended into the king’s park, and showed himself soaring above those women to and fro in the air, while he chanted, “To whom shall I give the blessing of a son, who craves the blessing of a son?” “To me, sir, to me!” thousands of hands were uplifted. Then he said: “I give sons to the virtuous: what is your virtue, what your life and conversation?” They drew down their uplifted hands, saying: “If you would reward virtue, go seek Sumedhā.” He went his ways through the air, and hovered at the window of her bedchamber. Then they went and told her, saying: “See, my lady, a King of the Devas has come down through the air, and stands at your bedchamber window, offering you the boon of a son!” With great pomp she proceeded there, and opening the window, said: “Is this true, sir, that I hear, how you offer the blessing of a son to a virtuous woman?” “It is, and so I do.” “Then grant it to me.” “What is your virtue, tell me; and if you please me, I grant you the boon.” Then declaring her virtue she recited these fifteen verses.

“I am king Ruci’s consort-queen, the first he ever wed;
With Suruci ten thousand years my wedded life I led.

Suruci king of Mithilā, Videha’s chief place,
I never lightly held his wish, nor deemed him mean or base,
In deed or thought or word, behind his back, nor to his face.

If this be true, O holy one, so may that son be given:
But if my lips are speaking lies, then burst my head in seven.

The parents of my husband dear, so long as they held sway,
And while they lived, would ever give me training in the way.

My passion was to hurt no life, and willingly do right:
I served them with extremest care unwearied day and night.

If this be true, O holy one, so may that son be given:
But if my lips are speaking lies, then burst my head in seven.

No less than sixteen thousand dames my fellow-wives have been:
Yet, brahmin, never jealousy nor anger came between.

At their good fortune I rejoice; each one of them is dear;
My heart is soft to all these wives as though myself it were.

If this be true, O holy one, so may that son be given:
But if my lips are speaking lies, then burst my head in seven.

Slaves, messengers, and servants all, and all about the place,
I give them food, I treat them well, with cheerful pleasant face.

If this be true, O holy one, so may that son be given:
But if my lips are speaking lies, then burst my head in seven.

Ascetics, brahmins, any man who begging here is seen,
I comfort all with food and drink, my hands all washen clean.

If this be true, O holy one, so may that son be given:
But if my lips are speaking lies, then burst my head in seven.

The eighth of either fortnight, the fourteenth, fifteenth days,
And the especial fast I keep, I walk in holy ways.

If this be true, O holy one, so may that son be given:
But if my lips are speaking lies, then burst my head in seven.”

Indeed not a hundred verses, nor a thousand, could suffice to sing the praise of her virtues: yet Sakka allowed her to sing her own praises in these fifteen verses, nor did he cut the tale short though he had much to do elsewhere; then he said: “Abundant and marvellous are your virtues,” then in her praise he recited a couple of verses:

“All these great virtues, glorious dame, O daughter of a king,
Are found in you, which of thyself, O lady, you do sing.

A warrior, born of noble blood, all glorious and wise,
Videha’s righteous emperor, your son, shall soon arise.”

When these words she heard, in great joy she recited two verses, putting a question to him:

“Unkempt, with dust and dirt begrimed, high-poiséd in the sky,
You speakest in a lovely voice that pricks me to the heart.

Are you a mighty god, O sage and dwell in heaven on high?
O tell me whence you comest here, O tell me who you are!”

He told her in six verses:

“Sakka the hundred-eyed you see, for so the gods me call
When they are wont to assemble in the heavenly judgement hall.

When women virtuous, wise, and good here in the world are found,
True wives, to husband’s mother kind even as in duty bound,

When such a woman wise of heart and good in deed they know,
To her, though woman, they divine, the gods themselves will go.

So lady, you, through worthy life, through store of good deeds done,
A princess born, all happiness the heart can wish, have won.

So you do reap your deeds, princess, by glory on the earth,
And after in the world of gods a new and heavenly birth.

O wise, O blessed! So live on, preserve your conduct right:
Now I to heaven must return, delighted with your sight.”

“I have business to do in the world of gods,” said he, “therefore I go; but do you be vigilant.” With this advice he departed.

In the morning time, the Devaputta Naḷakāra was conceived within her womb. When she discovered it, she told the king, and he did what was necessary for a woman with child. At the end of ten months she brought forth a son, and they gave him Mahāpanāda for his name. All the people of the two countries came crying out, “My lord, we bring this for the boy’s milk-money,” and each dropped a coin in the king’s courtyard: a great heap there was of them. The king did not wish to accept this, but they would not take the money back, but said as they departed, “When the boy grows up, my lord, it will pay for his keep.”

The lad was brought up amid great magnificence; and when he came of years, aye, no more than sixteen, he was perfect in all accomplishments. The king thinking of his son’s age, said to the queen, “My lady, when the time comes for the ceremonial sprinkling of our son, let us make him a fine palace for that occasion.” She was quite willing. The king sent for those who had skill in divining the auspicious place for a building, and said to them, “My friends, get a master-mason, and build me a palace not far from my own. This is for my son, whom we are about to consecrate as my successor.” They said it was well, and proceeded to examine the surface of the ground. At that moment Sakka’s throne became hot. Perceiving this, he at once summoned Vissakamma, and said: “Go, my good Vissakamma, make for prince Mahāpanāda a palace half a league in length and breadth and five and twenty leagues in height, all with stones of price.” Vissakamma took on the shape of a mason, and approaching the workmen said: “Go and eat your breakfast, then return.” Having thus got rid of the men, he struck on the earth with his staff; in that instant up rose a palace, seven storeys high, of the aforesaid size.

Now for Mahāpanāda these three ceremonies were done together: the ceremony for consecrating the palace, the ceremony for spreading above him the royal umbrella, the ceremony of his marriage. At the time of the ceremony all the people of both countries gathered together, and spent seven years feasting, nor did the king dismiss them: their clothes, their ornaments, their food and their drink and all the rest of it, these things were all provided by the royal family. At the seven years’ end they began to grumble, and king Suruci asked why. “O king,” they said, “while we have been revelling at this feast seven years have gone by. When will the feast come to an end?” He answered, “My good friends, all this while my son has never once laughed. So soon as he shall laugh, we will disperse again.”

Then the crowd went beating the drum and gathered the tumblers and jugglers together. Thousands of tumblers were gathered, and they divided themselves into seven bands and danced; but they could not make the prince laugh. Of course he that had seen the dancing of dancers divine could not care for such dancers as these. Then came two clever jugglers, Bhaṇḍukaṇṇa and Paṇḍukaṇṇa, Crop-ear and Yellow-ear, and say they, “We will make the prince laugh.” Bhaṇḍukaṇṇa made a great mango tree, which he called Sanspareil, grow before the palace door: then he threw up a ball of string, and made it catch on a branch of the tree, and then up he climbed into the Mango Sanspareil. Now the Mango Sanspareil they say is Vessavaṇa’s mango. And the slaves of Vessavaṇa took him, as usual, chopped him up by the various limbs and threw down the bits. The other jugglers joined the pieces together, and poured water upon them. The man donned upper and under garments of flowers, and rose up and began dancing again. Even the sight of this did not make the prince laugh. Then Paṇḍukaṇṇa had some firewood piled in the courtyard and went into the fire with his troop. When the fire was burnt out, the people sprinkled the pile with water. Paṇḍukaṇṇa with his troop rose up dancing with upper and under garments of flowers.

When the people found they could not make him laugh, they grew angry. Sakka, perceiving this, sent down a divine dancer, bidding him make prince Mahāpanāda laugh. Then he came and remained poised in the air above the royal courtyard, and performed what is called the Half-body dance: one hand, one foot, one eye, one tooth, go dancing, throbbing, flickering to and fro, all the rest stood still. Mahāpanāda, when he saw this, gave a little smile. But the crowd roared and roared with laughter, could not cease laughing, laughed themselves out of their wits, lost control of their limbs, rolled over and over in the royal courtyard, and that was the end of the festival.

The Teacher, having finished telling this story, after Fully Awakening uttered these verses here following:

1. “ ’Twas king Panāda who this palace had,
A thousand bowshots high, in breadth sixteen.

2. A thousand bowshots high, in banners clad;
A hundred storeys, all of emerald green.

3. Six thousand men of music to and fro
In seven companies did dance withal:
As Bhaddaji has said, ’twas even so:
I, Sakka, was your slave, at beck and call.” {2.335}

At that moment the worldly monks became resolved of their doubt.

When the Teacher had ended this discourse, he identified the Jātaka, “Bhaddaji was the Mahāpanāda, and I was Sakka.”