Siri-Kalakanni Jataka (#192)

temple painting of Maha Ummagga Jataka

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.

The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. A boy cursed with bad luck had gone off from the Bodhisatta’s city 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, so the teacher gave her to him. The student didn’t want to marry her, but did so out of respect for his teacher. Since good luck cannot mate with bad luck, he avoided her as much as possible, including sleeping on the floor at night. 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. After she went up the tree, he quickly climbed down and piled thorns around it so she could not leave. Then he ran off alone.

When King Vedeha later rode his elephant past the fig tree and saw the entrapped woman, he fell in love at first sight. Since she had been abandoned, the king claimed the woman as his own, consecrating her as Queen Udumbara (“Fig”) the moment they reached the palace.

The next day, the king took his new chief consort to the royal park, and the man who had deserted her was among the people cleaning the road ahead of them. When Queen Udumbara saw him, she could not restrain feeling triumphant at her good fortune and she smiled in happiness. The king did not believe that the man she smiled at was her former husband and he drew his sword to kill her for flirting. She begged him to consult his advisors first. Senaka, the chief advisor, said he did not believe any man would leave such a beautiful woman. The Bodhisatta, however, explained that good luck and bad luck 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 a loyal supporter of the Bodhisatta.

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 that he’d also had perfect knowledge in the past.

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. Senaka was an earlier birth of Saccaka, a Jain who converted to be a disciple of the Buddha.

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