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332 Thusa jataka

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Once upon a time when Brahmadatta reigned in Benares, the Bodhisatta was a far-famed teacher at Takkasila and trained many young princes, and sons of brahmins in the arts. Now the son of the king of Benares, when he was sixteen years old, came to him and after he had acquired the three Vedas and all the liberal arts and was perfect in them, he took leave of his master, the teacher regarding him by his gift of prognostication thought, “There is danger coming to this man through his son. By my magic power I will deliver him from it.” And composing four stanzas he gave them to the young prince and spoke as follows: “My son after you are seated on the throne, when your son is sixteen years old, utter the first stanza whole eating your rice ; repeat the second stanza at the time of the great levee; the third, as you are ascending to the palace roof, standing at the head of the stairs, and the fourth, when entering the royal chamber, as you stand on the threshold.”

The prince readily assented to this and saluting his teacher went away. And after acting as viceroy, on his father’s death he ascended the throne. His son, when he was sixteen years of age, on the king’s going forth to take his pleasure in the garden, observing his father’s majesty and power to his attendants about it. They said, “True, Sir, what is the good of obtaining power, when one is old? You must by some means or other kill the king and possess yourself of his kingdom.” The prince said, “I will kill him by putting poison in his food.” So he took some poison and sat down to eat his evening meal with his father. The king, when the rice was just served in the bowl, spoke the first stanza:

With sense so mice, the husks from rice
Rats keen are to discriminate:
They cared not much the husks to touch,
But grain by grain the rice they ate.

“I an discovered,” thought the prince, and not daring to administer the poison in the bowl of rice, he rose up and bowing to the king went away. He told the story to his attendants and said, “To-day I am found out. How now shall I kill him?” from this day forth they lay concealed in the garden, and consulting together in whispers said, “There is still one expedient. When it is time to attend the great levee, gird on your sword, and taking your stand amongst the councillors, when you see the king off his guard, you must strike him a blow with your sword and kill him.” Thus they arranged it. The prince readily agreed, and at the time of the great levee, he girt on his sword and moving about from place to place looked out for and opportunity to strike the king. At this moment the king uttered the second stanza:

The secret counsel taken in the wood
By me is understood:

The village plot soft whispered in the ear
That too I hear

Thougt the prince, “My father knows that I am his enemy,” and ran away and told his attendants. After the lapse of seven or eight days they said, “Prince, your father is ignorant of your feeling towards him. You only fancy this in your own mind. Put him to death.” So one day he took his sword and stood at the top of the stairs in the royal closet. The king standing at the head of the staircase spoke the third stanza:

A monkey once did cruel measures take
His tender offspring impotent to make.

Thought the prince, “My father wants to seize ne,” and in his terror he fled away and told his attendants he had been threatened by his father. After the lapse of a fortnight they said, “Prince, if the king knew this, he would not have put up with it so long a time. Your imagination suggests entering the royal chamber on the upper floor of the palace he lay down beneath the couch, intending to slay the king, as soon as he came. At the close of the evening meal, the king sent his retinue away, wishing to lie down, and entering the royal chamber, as he stood on the threshold, he uttered the fourth stanza:

Thy cautious creeping ways
Like one-eyed goat in mustard field that strays,

And who thou art that lurkest here below,
This too I know.

Thought the prince, “My father has found me out. Now he will put me to death.” And  seized with fear he came out from beneath the couch, and throwing down his sword at the king’s feet and saying, “Pardon me, my lord,” he lay grovelling before him. The king said, “You thought, no one knows what I am about.” And after rebuking him he ordered him to be bound in chains and put into the prison house, and set a guard over him. Then the king meditated on the virtues of the Bodhisatta. And by and bye he died. When they had celebrated his funeral rites, they took the young prince out of prison and set him on the throne.

The Master, here ended his lesson and said, “Thus, Sirs, kings of old suspected in cases in which suspicion was justified,” and related this incident, but the king gave no heed to his words. The Master thus identified the Birth: “At that time the far-famed teacher at Takkasila was I myself.”

 

Jathakakatha