Siri-Kalakanni Jataka (#192)

temple painting of Maha Ummagga Jataka

The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. The full account of this lifetime is told in the Maha-Ummagga Jataka (#546) while the Siri-Kalakanni Jataka only relates this single incident from that story.

A boy cursed with bad luck had gone off to study with a famous teacher in Taxila. The teacher had a daughter as beautiful as a nymph come of age right at the time the student completed his studies and was ready to return home, so the teacher gave her to him. He didn’t want to marry her, but did so out of respect for his teacher. Right after their marriage, he avoided her as much as possible, sleeping on the floor at night since good luck cannot mate with bad luck. Then when they traveled back to his city, the student climbed a tree to eat some ripe figs. His wife asked for some and he told her to climb up and pick her own. Once she went up the tree he climbed down and piled thorns around it so she could not get down and he ran off, leaving her alone.

In the afternoon, King Vedeha rode his elephant past the fig tree and saw the woman. He fell in love at first sight, and since she had been abandoned the king claimed her as his own, consecrating her as Queen Udumbara (“Fig”), his chief consort, the moment they reached the palace. The next day the king and queen went to the royal park and the man who had deserted her was among the people cleaning the road ahead of them. When the queen saw him, she could not restrain feeling triumphant at her good fortune and smiled in happiness. The king did not believe that the man she smiled at was her former husband and drew his sword to kill her for flirting. She begged him to consult his advisors first and Senaka, the chief advisor, said he did not believe any man would leave such a beautiful woman. But the king decided to ask the Bodhisatta’s opinion too, and he explained that good luck and bad can never be together. The king was relieved and thanked the Bodhisatta for saving his precious queen from the foolish advice of Senaka. The king gave him one thousand coins as a reward and the queen became the Bodhisatta’s loyal supporter.

In the Lifetime of the Buddha

One day some of the Buddha’s disciples were discussing his supreme wisdom. In particular, how he had humbled and converted a vast multitude of brahmins, ascetics, thieves, goblins, gods, and more. When the Buddha heard them talking about it, he told them this story so they knew he’d had perfect knowledge in the past too.

King Vedeha was an earlier birth of Laludayi, an elder disciple of the Buddha who was so shy that he could not speak when around more than a single other person, and he often said one thing when he meant another, and Senaka was an earlier birth of Saccaka, a Jain who converted to be a disciple of the Buddha.

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