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Story of Sutasoma
The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C.B. Varma
|063 - The Story of Sutasoma|
Once, the Bodhisatta
was born as a prince in the royal house of the Kurus in Indraprastha. His
comely face was like moon (Soma). He was, therefore, called Sutasoma. Good
conduct, learning, charity, mercy, modesty and wisdom and so on were his
virtues for which he was declared as the heir-apparent.
in a gorgeous spring day he visited the royal garden with his wives and
maids. There the women charmed him with their delightful songs, music,
dances and amorous and playful gesticulations. In the meanwhile a hermit
named Nanda came to the spot. The prince received him with the due
reverence and offered him a place to sit and deliver some religious
discourse. However, in the middle of the discourse a ferocious cannibal
(born of king Sudasa and a lioness) known as Kalmasapasada attacked
the garden and abducted the prince. The cannibal was under a vow to
sacrifice one hundred princes to please a goblin, who was his benefactor.
Further, before attacking Sutasoma he had already held one hundred princes
as captives for the sacrifice.
captured, Sutasoma was not terrified. He was rather remorseful for not
having presented any gift to the hermit whose discourses he had enjoyed so
much. Afflicted with those thoughts: his eyes filled with tears. When the
beastly being saw tears in his eyes, he thought that the prince was
scared. So, he laughed aloud and remarked, “Why do you bewail, O Prince!
Is it not that you are frightened of the death ?” The prince said,
“No, I am not scared of the death. I am sad because I just lost an
opportunity to hear the complete sermon of the revered ascetic and to
offer him some gifts. Will you, therefore, allow me to visit the palace
for a short-while?” Kalmasapasada did
not trust the prince’s statement, yet he allowed him to fulfil his last
prince was true to his word. He gave handsome gifts to the ascetic and
took his wise lessons and returned to the cannibal.
his return the man-eater was surprised and said, “You are true to your
words but you lack political wisdom”.
you are wrong. On contrary, I am better skilled in political wisdom
because I know that resorting to such artfulness eventually leads to the
fall of a man from the righteousness and perennial bliss; and leads to all
sorts of suffering. I am now ready for death”, said the king in his
Impressed by the prince’s sense of the righteousness the cannibal said,
“I am pleased with you. You can ask for some boon from me.”
The prince laughed in
reply and said, “what boon you can bestow on others? You are yourself a
slave of Passion and chained by animal-like evil karmas.
Your righteousness is destroyed every moment. So, how can you show any
favour to any one ? It is now time for you to satisfy your cannibalistic
passion by killing me.”
Though born of a
lioness, Kalmasapasada was a son of a man, who was rather a reputed
virtuous king known as Sudasa. So, these words of the prince made him feel
ashamed; and opened his eyes. The man in him was, thus, aroused. And he
finally pledged to lead a virtuous life. So, he freed all the captive
princes and became a disciple of Sutasoma.
Sutasoma helped Kalmasapasada regain his kingdom, which he ruled lawfully.
[Angulimala was Kalmasapasada in his previous existence; the ascetic Nanda was Kassapa Buddha].
See Mahasutasoma Jataka No..537; Chariya Pitaka iii.12; JM 31.
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