Manisukara Jataka (#285)

temple painting of Manisukara Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once an ascetic who lived deep in the Himalayas. Thirty boars lived in a crystal cave near his hut, and a lion regularly walked by it. The stress from seeing the lion’s menacing image in the crystal made them thin and unhealthy. To stop this, they tried to discolor the crystal by rubbing mud on it, but their bristles polished the crystal, making it even clearer. They asked the Bodhisatta how they could dull the crystal, and he told them it was impossible, so they should move to a new home. They followed his advice.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

As the Buddha’s fame grew and his disciples multiplied, other religious teachers lost most of their followers. Upset over this, some heretics enlisted a beautiful woman named Sundari to destroy the Buddha’s reputation so they would receive more praise and alms. They told her to walk along the road each evening in the direction of the Buddha’s monastery and walk toward town each morning, telling anyone she passed that she and the Buddha were lovers. After a few days of letting this rumor spread, the heretics hired some men to kill her.

The heretics informed the king that one of their supporters had gone missing, and they suspected that disciples of the Buddha had killed her to hide their master’s sin. The king took them at their word and sent his men through the streets telling people to go see Sundari’s body in the cemetery so they knew what the Buddha’s disciples had done. After this, the king had some of his men investigate her murder and they overheard the killers discussing their crime. Brought before the king, they confessed and said who hired them. The king arrested the heretics and had them carry Sundari’s body through the streets proclaiming their guilt and the Buddha’s innocence.

Following this, the Buddha’s reputation grew even greater. When he heard some of his disciples discussing the incident, he told them it is impossible to make a Buddha impure, just as you cannot stain fine jewels. Then he told them this story as an example of the latter.

The Buddha did not identify any earlier births other than his own.

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