Maṇimēkhalai

Book III
[Maṇimēkhalai goes to the Garden]

Information of this reached Maṇimēkhalai, as the time had come for her to give up attachment to things worldly. So she wept tears of great sorrow for the fate that had befallen her father Kōvalaṉ and his chaste wife. She was therefore asked to throw away the garland of flowers that she was then making as it was contaminated by her tears, and directed to go and bring fresh flowers for making other garlands as a diversion from her sorrow.

Mādhavī’s companion Sutamatī protested [118] against her going alone as the great charm of her looks was likely to prove dangerous to her in the great city. Sutamatī took occasion to explain to Mādhavī that a similar lonely adventure was the cause of her presence in the Cōḻa capital. She was the wife of a Brahman Kauśika in Champa. (Bhagalpur on the Ganges). She went into a garden alone for gathering flowers when she was carried off by a Vidyādhara who was flying through the air to see the festival of Indra at Puhār. Having spent some time with her, he left her behind in the city and went away to his own place, and that accounted for her presence in the city. She pointed out therefore the danger that beset young women being found alone, and offered to escort Maṇimēkhalai to the garden.

Rejecting a number of flower gardens in the city as being exposed to one or other of the dangers from men or beings other than men, she pointed to a garden outside the city, with ever-flowering trees, and sacred to the memory of Buddha. It contained in it a pavilion made of crystal containing a lotus seat with the footmarks of the Buddha of miraculous power.

Flowers in bloom shot into full blossom immediately, if placed on it; full blown flowers placed on it never faded; bees would not smell them. Further, people who wished to offer flowers to any of the gods would have their wishes fulfilled if, with their thoughts on their gods, they placed their flower offerings on the seat; if without any thought flowers should be placed on it, they would never go out of it.

This Buddha seat with the peculiar features described above was erected in this garden by the divine architect Maya, to illustrate at one and the same time the two principles that those who do a thing without setting their minds upon it in full, will not reap the fruit of their action; and that whatever is done without an undisturbed [119] resolution of the mind to do so, will not bear fruit.

Having said this, Sutamatī with Maṇimēkhalai went along threading their way through the various crowds of idle people, a crowd following these two praising the beauty of Maṇimēkhalai and blaming her mother for having consigned her to this life of asceticism, and ultimately reached the flower garden, which was their objective.