Maṇimēkhalai

Book XXVI
[Kaṇṇakī’s Teaching on Karma]

Flying across through the air Maṇimēkhalai reached Vañji, and wishing to offer worship to the image both of her chaste mother Kaṇṇakī and her father Kōvalaṉ, she reached the temple erected in honour of the former. Standing before the image, with her head bowed in [187] reverence, she praised the deity in the following terms:–

‘Instead of paying the debt of a chaste wife by either dying with the husband, or putting an end to your life on hearing of the husband’s death, you took upon yourself the duty of vindicating your chastity.’

She prayed with tearful eyes that the chaste wife may have the kindness to explain this unusual procedure to her. The unparalleled goddess of chastity replied to her:

‘When not being able to suffer the calamity that befell my husband, I caused the destruction of Madura by fire, the great Goddess of the city, Madhurāpati, appeared before me and assured me that that was the result of our deeds in a previous birth.

“Two princes, cousins by birth and ruling respectively in Simhapura and Kapilain the fertile country of Kaliṅga, fell to fighting against each other in great hatred. This war between Vasu and Kumāra left the country desolate for six gāvudas, (Leagues). and made it impossible for anybody to approach on account of the prevalence of the war. A merchant Saṅgama by name with his wife, eager after prof it, went there to sell jewellery and other articles of sale at Singapuram. In the course of his business, he was arrested by Bhārata, a police official of the monarch, and shown up before the monarch as a spy. Under royal orders he was beheaded and his wife bewailing the unfortunate death of her husband, put an end to her own life by throwing herself from the top of a hill. It is the curse that she invoked at the moment of her death that has now resulted in the mishap to your husband.”

The deeds done in a previous existence will inevitably result in suffering the penalty. Notwithstanding the truth of this, I brought about the destruction of the city by fire. As a result of good deeds already done we have reached the heaven of the gods for the time being. We have the consciousness that we shall have [188] to pay the penalty for this bad deed in the future. If we cease to be in heaven, we are sure to be born on earth once again, thus working out the result of our deeds till such time when in the Magadha country of unfailing rain, in that bright city of Kapila, there should appear a Buddha of limitless perfection. He will there attain to enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, and proceed out of mercy to living beings to teach the Four Truths, the twelve causes and conditions, the means of destroying these causes and conditions, and thus enable people to give up that which is evil all through this universe of existence.

As a result of our having worshipped at the seven vihāras of Indra at Kāvēripaṭṭiṇam, we shall not at the time be born in a life of suffering, and will then listen to his teaching with attention. The wish to renounce life will then dawn on us. We shall then cease to be born on earth. Even so we shall for a long time be the means of bringing about the fruition of their good deeds to many people.

O, dear one, you set out at this old city to learn, from the votaries of the different systems of religion, their various systems and, when it appears to you as it will, that none of these contains the truth, you will then follow the teaching of “the Piṭakas of the Great One”. This is what is going to happen.’

Having said this, she gave Maṇimēkhalai to understand that, being the young woman that she was, nobody would teach her the highest truths of religion, and therefore she exhorted her to assume another form more suitable for learning these truths. Maṇimēkhalai accordingly assumed the form of an old hermit by making use of the mantra which Goddess Maṇimēkhalā had taught her. In this guise she went to the temples, to the platforms, to the halls, to the gardens, to the tanks, wherever those devoted to penance, those who by [189] discipline had attained to the control of their passions, those who by great learning had attained to the knowledge of the right path, all round the fortification of the city.

The ruling sovereign of this city, the great Cēra Śenguṭṭuvaṉ, having reduced all the land to the same condition as that of his own hill country, had marched at the head of his army up to the banks of the Ganges, crossing over to its northern bank by means of boats, defeated many kings, including Kanaka and Vijaya; and, bringing a stone from the Himalayas carried on the heads of the defeated kings, celebrated the binding of the fillet of victory by wearing the garland of Vāhai. This great capital continued to be her residence till, by the ripening of the causes, she was ready to receive the teaching of the Four Great Truths.