Book IV. Catukkanipāta
The Section with Four Verses
Ja 301 Cullakāliṅgajātaka
The Short Story about (the King of) Kāliṅga (4s)
Alternative Title: Cūḷakāliṅgajātaka (Cst)
In the present four Jaina female ascetics win victories everywhere until they are defeated by Ven. Sāriputta, and they convert and ask to ordain. The Buddha tells a story in which four daughters are an enticement to war. They are taken into a harem of an opposing king, and their father offers to do battle, and hears from Sakka that he will win. Through heroism though his opponent beats him, and he offers up a dowry for his daughters. [There seems to be a mismatch between the stories here.]
The Bodhisatta = the ascetic (tāpasa),
Sāriputta = (the minister) Nandisena,
the young nuns = the king of Kāliṅga’s daughters (Kāliṅgarañño dhītaro).
Keywords: Argumentation, Bravery.
“Open the gate.”
Tradition says that Licchavis of the ruling family to the number of seven thousand seven hundred and seven had their abode at Vesālī. And all of them were given to argument and debate.
Now a certain Jain, skilled in maintaining five hundred different theses, arrived at Vesālī and met with a kind reception there. A female Jain too of a similar character also came to Vesālī and the Licchavi chiefs got up a debate between them. And when they proved well matched as disputants, the Licchavis were struck with the notion that such a pair would be sure to have clever children. So they arranged a marriage between them, and as the issue of this union in due course four daughters and a son were born. The daughters were named Saccā, Lolā, Avavādakā, and Paṭācārā, and the boy was called Saccaka. These five children when they reached years of discretion learned a thousand different theses, five hundred from the mother and five hundred from the father. And the parents schooled their daughters in this manner, “If any layman refutes your thesis, you are to become his wives, but if a monk refutes you, you must take orders at his hands.”
After a time their parents died, and when they were dead, the Jain Saccaka lived on in the same place at Vesālī, studying the lore of the Licchavis.
Now the venerable Sāriputta, after sweeping up wherever it was necessary, and putting water into the empty pots and tending the sick, later on in the day went into Sāvatthi for alms. And when he had seen and heard about the branch, he ordered the boys to throw it down and trample upon it. “Let those,” said he, “by whom this branch has been planted, as soon as they have finished their meal, come and see me in the gable-chamber over the gate of Jetavana.”
So he went into the city, and when he had ended his meal, he took his stand in the chamber over the monastery gate. The female ascetics too, after going their rounds for alms, returned and found the branch had been trampled on. And when they asked who had done this, the boys told them it was Sāriputta, and if they were anxious for a debate, they were to go to the chamber over the gate of the monastery.
So they returned to the city, and followed by a great crowd went to the gate-tower of the monastery, and presented to the monk a thousand different theses. The monk solved all their difficulties and then asked them if they knew any more.
They replied, “No, my Lord.” “Then I,” said he, “will ask you something.” “Ask on, my Lord,” they said, “and if we know it, we will answer you.”
So the monk presented just one question to them, and when they had to give it up, the monk told them the answer. Then they said: “We are beaten, the victory rests with you.”
“What will you do now?” he asked. “Our parents,” they replied, “admonished us thus: ‘If you are refuted in debate by a layman, you are to become his wives, but if by a monk, you are to receive orders at his hands’. Therefore, admit us to the ascetic life,” they said.
The monk readily agreed and ordained them near the nun called Uppalavaṇṇā and all of them shortly became Arahats.
Then one day they started this topic in the Dhamma Hall, how that Sāriputta proved a refuge to the four female ascetics, and that through him they all became Arahats. When the Teacher came and heard the nature of their discourse, he said: “Not only now, but in former times too, Sāriputta proved a refuge to these women.
In the past when Kāliṅga was reigning in the city of Dantapura in the Kāliṅga On the Coromandel coast. kingdom, Assaka was king of Potali in the Assaka country. Now Kāliṅga had a fine army and was himself as strong as an elephant, but could find no one to fight with him. So being eager for a fray he said to his ministers, “I am longing to fight but can find no one to war with me.”
His ministers said: “Sire, there is one way open to you. You have four daughters of surpassing beauty. Bid them adorn themselves with jewels, and then seated in a covered carriage let them be driven to every village, town and royal city with an armed escort. And if any king shall be desirous of taking them into his harem, we will get up a fight with him.”
The king followed their advice. But the kings of the various countries, wherever they came, were afraid to let them enter their cities, but sent them presents and assigned them quarters outside the city walls. Thus they passed through the length and breadth of Jambudīpa till they reached Potali in the Assaka country. But Assaka too closed his gates against
Then he went and bade the guards open the city gate to them, and spake the first verse:
1. “Open the gate to these maidens: through Nandisena’s might,
King Aruna’s The commentator says Aruna was the real name of the Assaka king. sage lion, our city is guarded aright.”
With these words he threw open the gate, and brought the maidens into the presence of king Assaka, and said to him, “Fear not. If there is to be a fight, I will see to it. Make these fair princesses your chief queens.” Then he installed them as queens by sprinkling them with holy water, and dismissed their attendants, bidding them go and tell Kāliṅga that his daughters had been raised to the dignity of queen-consorts. So they went and told him, and Kāliṅga said: “I presume he does not know how powerful I am,” and at once he set out with a great army. Nandisena heard of his approach and sent a message to this effect, “Let Kāliṅga abide within his own marches, and not encroach upon ours, and the battle shall be fought on the frontiers of the two countries.” On receiving this message, Kāliṅga halted within the limits of his own territory and Assaka also kept to his.
At this time the Bodhisatta was following the ascetic life and was living in a hermitage on a spot lying between the two kingdoms. Said Kāliṅga, “These monks are knowing fellows. Who can tell which of us will gain the victory, and which will be defeated. I will ask this ascetic.” So he came to the Bodhisatta disguised, and sitting respectfully on one side, after the usual kindly greetings he said: “Your reverence, Kāliṅga and Assaka have their forces drawn up each within his own territory, eager for a fight. Which of them will be victorious, and which will be defeated?”
“Venerable sir,” he replied, “the one will conquer, the other will be beaten. I can tell you no more. But Sakka, the king of Heaven, is coming here. I will ask him and let you know, if you come back again tomorrow.”
So when Sakka came to pay his respects to the Bodhisatta, he put this question to him, and Sakka replied, “Respected sir, Kāliṅga will conquer, Assaka will be defeated, and such and such omens will be seen beforehand.” Next day Kāliṅga came and repeated his question, and the Bodhisatta gave Sakka’s answer. And Kāliṅga, without inquiring what
“Sire,” he replied, “who knows this? Do not trouble yourself as to who shall gain the victory and who shall suffer defeat.”
With these words he comforted the king. Then he went and saluted the Bodhisatta, and sitting respectfully on one side he asked, “Who, venerable sir, will conquer, and who will be defeated?”
“Kāliṅga,” he replied, “will win the day and Assaka will be beaten.” “And what, venerable sir,” he asked, “will be the omen for the one that conquers, and what for the one that is defeated.”
“Venerable sir,” he answered, “the tutelary deity of the conqueror will be a spotless white bull, and that of the other king a perfectly black bull, and the tutelary gods of the two kings will themselves fight and be severally victorious or defeated.”
On hearing this Nandisena rose up and went and took the king’s allies – they were about one thousand in number and all of them great warriors – and led them up a mountain close at hand and asked them saying: “Would you sacrifice your lives for our king?”
“Yes, sir, we would,” they answered.
“Then throw yourselves from this precipice,” he said.
They attempted to do so, when he stopped them, saying: “No more of this. Show yourselves staunch friends of our king and make a gallant fight for him.”
They all vowed to do so. And when the battle was now imminent, Kāliṅga came to the conclusion in his own mind that he would be victorious, and his army too thought: “The victory will be ours.”
But both the kings, mounted on horseback, drew near to one another with the intention of fighting. And their two tutelary gods moved before them, that of Kāliṅga in the shape of a white bull, and that of the other king as a black bull. And as these drew near to one another, they too made every demonstration of fighting. But these two bulls were visible to the two kings only, and to no one else. And Nandisena asked Assaka, saying: “Your Highness, are the tutelary gods visible to you?”
“Yes,” he answered, “they are.” “In what guise?” he asked. “The guardian god of Kāliṅga appears in the shape of a white bull, while ours is in the form of a black bull and looks distressed.”
“Fear not sire, we shall conquer and Kāliṅga will be defeated. Only
“Good,” said the king, and at a given signal from Nandisena he smote with his spear and his courtiers too smote with their thousand spears, and the tutelary god of Kāliṅga died then and there.
Meanwhile Kāliṅga was defeated and fled. And at the sight all those thousand councillors raised a loud cry, saying: “Kāliṅga is fled.” Then Kāliṅga with the fear of death upon him, as he fled, reproached that ascetic and uttered the second verse:
2. “Kāliṅgas bold shall victory claim,
Defeat crowns Assakas with shame.
Thus did your reverence prophesy,
And honest folk should never lie.”
Thus did Kāliṅga, as he fled, revile that ascetic. And in his flight to his own city he did not so much as once look back. And a few days afterwards Sakka came to visit the ascetic. And the ascetic conversing with him uttered the third verse:
3. “The gods from lying words are free,
Truth should their chief treasure be.
In this, great Sakka, you did lie;
Tell me, I pray, the reason why.”
On hearing this, Sakka spoke the fourth verse:
4. “Have you, O brahmin, ne’er been told
Gods envy not the hero bold?
The fixed resolve that may not yield,
Intrepid prowess in the field,
High courage and adventurous might
For Assaka have won the fight.”
And on the flight of Kāliṅga, king Assaka returned with his spoils to his own city. And Nandisena sent a message to Kāliṅga, that he was to forward a portion for the dowry of these four royal maidens. “Otherwise,” he added, “I shall know how to deal with him.” And Kāliṅga, on hearing this message, was so alarmed that he sent a fitting portion for them. And from that day forward the two kings lived amicably together.
His discourse ended, the Teacher identified the Jātaka, “In those days these young female ascetics were the daughters of king Kāliṅga, Sāriputta was Nandisena and I myself was the ascetic.”
last updated: November 2021