Kamanita And Vasitthi
[By KARL GJELLERUP]
IN THE GROVE OF KRISHNA
AFTER THAT FIRST EVENING I neglected no
opportunity to visit the Krishna grove, and to become
more deeply immersed in the Teachings through the
words of the Master or one of his great disciples.
* * *
During Sātāgira's absence, the police had suc‐
ceeded in tracking down Angulimāla's accomplice who
had, in the course of a severe interrogation, given the
assurance that the robber in question really was Anguli‐
māla himself, that the latter had not died under torture as
the Minister had always asserted, but had escaped; he had
also confessed Angulimāla's intended attack upon the
Krishna grove. His Majesty was naturally incensed to the
highest degree: first at Sātāgira's having allowed the
demonic robber to escape, and then at his having cheated
the whole of Kosambī, together with its King, with the
false head he had set up. He wouldn't listen to any words
of defence, or even of excuse:— If Sātāgira didn't render
Angulimāla incapable of further mischief within three days
— as the people so stormily demanded — then all the
consequences of the Royal Displeasure would be visited
upon him with the utmost rigour.
After Sātāgira had related the whole tale, he threw
himself weeping upon the seat, tore his hair and behaved
like one distraught.
"Be comforted, my husband," I said, "follow my
counsel, and not in three days but before this very day is
over, you shall again be in possession of the Royal Favour;
yes, and not only that, but it shall shine upon you even
more brightly than before."
Sātāgira sat up and looked at me as one might gaze
upon some bizarre freak of nature. "And what, then, is this
counsel of yours?"
"Return to the King and persuade him to take
himself to the Simsapā wood beyond the city gates. There
let him seek the Lord Buddha at the ancient temple and
ask counsel from him. The rest will follow of itself."
"You are a wise woman," said Sātāgira. "In any
case, your counsel is very good, for the Buddha is said to
be the wisest of all men".He now spoke of his gratitude, which
would be inexhaustible no matter what proof I should put it to.
"I have but a single petition to make, the granting
of which will testify sufficiently to your gratitude."
"Name it to me at once," he cried, "and if you
should even demand that I send Vajirā with her son back
to her parents, I shall do so without hesitation."
"My request is a just, not an unjust, one. I shall
only proffer it, however, when my counsel has proved
itself to be reliable to the fullest degree. But hurry now to
the palace and win His Majesty over to pay this visit."
He returned fairly soon, delighted that he had
succeeded in prevailing upon the King to undertake the
"Not until King Udena heard that the advice came
from you, and that you had vouched for its success with
your honour, did he consent; for he also thinks great
things of you. Oh, how proud I am of such a wife!"
We took ourselves at once to the palace, where
already preparations were being made for the start.
As soon as the sun's rays had softened their inten‐
sity, King Udena mounted his state elephant, the celeb‐
rated Bhaddavatikā, who was only used on the most
important of occasions.
We, the Chamberlain, the Lord of the Treasury and other
high dignitaries came behind in carriages; two hundred
horsemen were in the vanguard and the same number
brought up the rear of the procession.
At the entrance to the wood the King caused
Bhaddavatikā to kneel down and he dismounted; the
others of us left the carriages and followed in his train on
foot to the Krishna temple; there the Buddha awaited us
surrounded by his disciples, as he already knew of the
approaching royal visit.
The King gave the Master a reverential greeting
and, stepping to one side, seated himself down. When we
others had also taken our seats, the Blessèd One asked
him: "What troubles you, noble king? Has the King of
Benares, or one of your other royal neighbours, threat‐
ened your land with war?"
"The King of Benares does not threaten me Vener‐
able Sir, nor does any one of my other royal neighbours.
A robber named Angulimāla lives in my land; he is cruel
and blood‐thirsty, given to murder and violence without
mercy for any living thing. He decimates villages; the
towns he renders heaps of smoking ruins; the lands he turns
to desert wastes. He slays people and then hangs their fin‐
gers around his neck. And in the wickedness of his heart
he has conceived a plan of falling upon this sacred grove
and of carrying you off, Master, you and your disciples.
My people murmur openly at the thought of this great
danger, they throng in great crowds around my palace and
demand that I should make Angulimāla incapable of fur‐
ther mischief. It is this grave concern alone that I have in
mind in coming to see you, Lord."
"But if you, great king, should see Angulimāla with
hair and beard shaven, clad in the robes of this Sangha
and forswearing the act of murder; no longer a robber,
content with one meal a day, modest in his behaviour,
virtuous and altogether noble, what would you then do
"We would greet him respectfully, Venerable Sir,
rise in his presence and invite him to be seated, we would
beg him to accept robes, food, lodging and medicine for
possible sickness, and would bestow upon him protec‐
tion, shelter and defence. But Lord, how could such an
unruly and malignant wretch experience such a change
Now the dread Angulimāla was sitting not far from
the Master. And the Master extended his right arm and
pointed over to him, saying to King Udena as he did so:
"Great king, this is Angulimāla."
At that, the face of the King grew pale from fear.
But greater by far was the horror on the face of
Sātāgira. His eyes looked as though they would start from
their sockets, his hair stood on end and cold sweat
dropped from his forehead.
I now prostrated myself before the King and
begged him to pardon my husband, saying that, led away by
passion he had acted foolishly and yet in the whole matter
had assuredly, although quite unconsciously, followed the
leading of a higher power that intended to bring to pass
before our eyes this greatest of all wonders, so that now,
instead of a robber having to be executed, the robber had
committed himself to the religious life. And when the King
had graciously consented to bestow his undiminished favour
again upon my husband, I said to Sātāgira:
"I have kept my promise. Now you must keep
yours also and fulfil my request, which is that I may be
permitted to enter the sacred Order of the Buddha."
With a mute inclination of the head Sātāgira gave
his consent. He had, of course by now, no other option.
The King, who was by now quite reassured,
approached Angulimāla, spoke kindly and deferentially to
him and gave him the assurance of his royal protection.
Then he went again to the Buddha, bowed low before
him, and said: "Wondrous it is, indeed, Venerable Sir, how
you, the Tathāgata, tame the untameable. For this Anguli‐
māla whom we could not overcome by either punishment
or sword, him you have overcome without either punish‐
ment or sword. And this thrice‐sacred grove where such a
wonderful thing has transpired shall to the end of time
belong to the Sangha of the Blessèd One. Furthermore, I
trust the Master will graciously allow me to erect within its
bounds buildings for the shelter of the monks and others
for that of the nuns."
Signifying his acceptance with silence, the Master
received the royal gift. The King then took his leave and
went away with his retinue.
I, however, remained behind under the protection
of the sisters who were present and, the very next day, I
shaved my head and became a bhikkhunī — a member of
the Order of Buddhist Nuns.
**********to be continued***********
Edited by yawares