Stories of the Buddha’s Former Births
Book 5 Pañcanipāta
351. Manikundala Jātaka
“Stript of all the joys of life,” etc.—This story the Master, while dwelling at Jetavana, told concerning a councillor who was guilty of misconduct in the harem of the king of Kosala. The incident that gave rise to the story has been given in full before.
Here too the Bodhisatta became king in Benares. The wicked councillor called in the king of Kosala and got him to seize upon the kingdom of Kasi, and to throw the Bodhisatta into prison. The king of Benares developed ecstatic meditation and sat cross-legged in the air. A fierce heat sprang up in the body of the marauding king, and he drew nigh to the king of Benares and repeated the first stanza:
Stript of all the joys of life,
Jewelled earrings, horse and car,
Robbed of child and loving wife,
Nought thy pleasure seems to mar.
Pleasures soon make haste to leave us,
Pleasures soon must all forego,
Sorrow has no power to grieve us,
Joy itself soon turns to woe.
Moons with new-born orb appearing
Wax awhile, to wane and die,
Suns with warmth all nature cheering,
Haste to set in yonder sky.
Change is this world’s law I see,
Sorrow has no pangs for me.
Thus now did the Great Being expound the Truth to the usurper king, and bringing his conduct to the test, repeated these stanzas —
The idle sensual layman I detest,
The false ascetic is a rogue confest.
A bad king will a case unheard decide;
Wrath in the sage can ne’er be justified.
The warrior prince a well-weighed verdict gives,
Of righteous judge the fame for ever lives.
The Master, having ended his discourse, thus identified the Birth: “At that time Ananda was the king of Kosala, and I myself was the king of Benares.”