Maṇimēkhalai

Book XII
[The Dharma of Mercy]

Maṇimēkhalai set out with her mother and her companion, and ultimately reached where Aṟavaṇa Aḍigaḷ was. There she met the venerable monk, his hair all grey, his body loose with age, while the tongue showed no signs of trembling, accustomed as he was, through a long series of years, to teaching.

She went round him three times and made her obeisance. She then related all that happened to her ever since she went into the flower-garden adjacent to the city till her return, and concluded that she was directed by the goddess Maṇimēkhalā to learn from him more about the previous life of her mother and her companion. She also reported that she received a similar direction from Tīvatilakai regarding the history of Āputra.

Aṟavaṇa Aḍigaḷ evinced great pleasure at hearing this, and began immediately to relate the story of Mādhavī and Sutamatī:–

‘On one occasion I visited the Pāda-Paṅgaya Malai, (Gdhrakūṭa). and on my return met Durjaya Rāja in a grove. To my enquiry whether he and his queens were well, he told me, in great sorrow, that one of them Vīrai died by going unguarded in front of a newly captured elephant as a result of drink, and that her sister having heard of this got up the terrace of the palace and died by throwing herself from it. I consoled him by saying that this was the result of previous karma, and sorrow would be useless.’

Addressing the two, he said.

‘You two have come into the world again like actors in a new disguise.’

Turning to Maṇimēkhalai he said:

‘At this time dharma is diminished in the world and sinful action has been on [142] the rise. But believing there is still the possibility of the existence of some slight tendency to dharma, I have not relaxed in my efforts in teaching it. That dharma, people in this world do not know. But within the circuit of this universe, the dēvas understand it and at their request the Dēva will come down again to this world from the Tuṣita Heaven in the year 1616. Then everyone in this world will feel impelled to practise the doctrine of mercy.

When the “sun of Buddha” appears, the moon and the sun will shine without interruption, asterisms that mark the day will move in their orbits without stopping, rains will never fail, earth will yield abundance, living beings will not experience evil, the wind will blow in the right direction, prosperity will attend all directions of the compass, the great sea will give good things in plenty, cows will of themselves yield pailfuls of milk, birds eating plenty will not have to go out in search of prey, beasts and men will give up even their natural enmity, fearsome beings and demons will cease to molest, human beings with defective organs will not come to birth. Those that should be born then and have the good fortune to hear the dharma from Him will cease to be born again.

Therefore it is that birth after birth I have made it my business to praise constantly the feet of My Lord, who acquired the knowledge at the root of the Bodhi tree.

Further than this, Maṇimēkhalai! you have to do certain things in this city. It is only after that that your mind will reach the proper stage for receiving the dharma that I might teach. These two are born with you because of the merit they acquired by worshipping the Buddha-feet at Gdhrakūṭa. In your company they will get rid of the results of all their previous action and attain the state of Nirvāṇa. You have obtained possession of the “elixir [143] of life”. Do go forward and destroy the hunger of all living beings by means of it. There is only one act of charity, whether it be to the Gods or to human beings, and, that is, relief of suffering from hunger.’

Maṇimēkhalai assented.