Maṇimēkhalai

Book XXI
[Maṇimēkhalai receives a Prediction]

Maṇimēkhalai, who was lying asleep in the front hall of Champāpati’s temple to the west, woke up in fear, and knowing what the Vidyādhara did, what befell the prince and what the divine statuette had said, gave up her disguise and assumed her real form.

‘When in our previous birth, you died of the cobra Dṣṭi Viṣa, I entered the fire along with you; when last I saw you in the pleasure garden in this city, goddess Maṇimēkhalā carried me away to Maṇipallavam, seeing that my mind was attracted to you. There, by means of the miraculous Buddha-seat at Maṇipallavam the goddess gave me knowledge of our previous births and relationship. As I understood your relationship to me, I cherished affection for you even in this life. I wished to exhort you from the evils of life by pointing out the inevitable cycle of births and deaths, and of the consequences of good and bad deeds. I assumed the form of Kāyaśaṇḍikai to keep you from doing evil. My evil fate it is that you should have thus fallen by the sword of the Vidyādhara.’

So saying she approached the dead body of the prince. The statuette on the pillar again forbade her from approaching and told her:

‘It is not in the previous life alone that you both were husband and wife. Such has been your relationship for innumerable lives [164] before. You have the knowledge to get rid of this cycle of birth and death. Be not vexed with this occurrence and give yourself up to sorrow for his death.’

Maṇimēkhalai, somewhat encouraged by the words of the god, enquired if that was the god that people used to say was there in the hall, who told everybody the truth of things.

‘If that be you, I make reverence unto you. If you do know, as I take it you do, what it was that brought about the death of my husband by the poisonous cobra in the previous birth and the sword of the Vidyādhara in this, pray let me know what it was.’

The god replied:

‘When on the banks of the river Kāyaṅkarai both you and your husband Rāhuḷa entertained the Rishi Bhramadharma who was on his round of preaching wisdom to people and who made it a point of his teaching to convey information regarding the coming of the Buddha, both of you together invited the Rishi for breakfast.

Your husband gave orders to the cook to get breakfast ready early the next morning. The cook delayed somewhat owing to circumstances beyond his control and in fear of consequences slipped and fell, dropping the cooking vessel itself. Even inspite of his good intentions your husband cut him in two for the fault of having delayed the breakfast. It is as a direct consequence of this that Udayakumāra suffered death in the previous birth and in this, in the manner in which it occurred. Be sure that the consequences of a man’s deeds are inevitable.

Those that say “god will protect you from the evil consequences of your deeds”, are people that speak in ignorance. Even though your husband did the cruel deed in anxiety to do good, the result of the evil deed has not left him. When the consequences of the evil deed are in operation, it may still be possible to do good that will save one in the next life.

The king hearing [165] of the death of the prince from the Rishis resident in Cakravāḷakoṭṭam will throw you into prison, and the crowned queen knowing this will take you out of the prison and keep you under her control.

The prayer of your mother Mādhavī and the intercession of the sage Aṟavaṇa Aḍigaḷ will ultimately gain for you release. After that you will reach Śāvaham, and there meeting its ruler, Āputra, will come back to Maṇipallavam. Āputra will learn there, by the sight of the Buddha-seat, his anterior history from Tīvatilakai, and will return to his country.

You will then assume the guise of a mendicant and go to the city of Vañji to learn from teachers of various religious persuasions their teaching. You may hold to the truth firmly that the result of deeds is inevitable and those that die must necessarily be born again. So far is your story. If you wish to know mine, I am of the gods. My name is Tuvadikan, Maya, the architect has carved in this old pillar a form exactly like mine. I never go out of it.’

Maṇimēkhalai then begged him to tell her her further history carrying it forward to her death. The god told her:

‘You will come to learn at Vañji that the city of Kāñcī suffered from famine owing to failure of rain, and that your mother Mādhavī, her companion Sutamatī, and the teacher Aṟavaṇa Aḍigaḷ were all three gone to that city and were awaiting your arrival. You would then proceed to Kāñcī and provide the starving people with food and save them from death. You would perform similarly many another miracle in that city.

Ultimately you will let Aṟavaṇa Aḍigaḷ know all that you have heard from the teachers of religion at Vañji. He will then teach you what tapas really is and dharma, and what the nature of the consequential phenomena are. He would also point out to you how to get rid of the [166] consequences of action. By these means he would enlighten you to get rid of the darkness of evil and of the attainment of the permanent state of Nirvāṇa.

Thus teaching the dharma, he would continue to live with immeasurable riddhi (miraculous power) till the Buddha should appear on earth. Passing through many lives, he would always be teaching the dharma. As a result of his teaching, you will follow the good path through the rest of your life doing many good deeds.

After death, here at Kāñcī, you will be born many times again as a man in Uttara (North) Magadha. In each one of these births, you will invariably follow the path of dharma, and, attaining to the position of the first disciple of the Buddha, reach Nirvāṇa ultimately.

Further you may note that as a result of good conduct and acts of charity of one of your ancestors, Goddess Maṇimēkhalā saved him from imminent death in the sea. That self-same goddess, because of the merit that you acquired by feeding the Rishi Sāduśakkaran, carried you away from the pleasure garden to the island of Maṇipallavam, and made it possible for you to see the Buddha-seat.’

Having heard all this Maṇimēkhalai attained to peace of mind, and the day broke in all its glorious effulgence.