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grain and other produce; besides gold, silver, and jewels. His palace was of exquisite beauty, even like that of Vaisravana, king of the northern region. But he had no child. His friends, therefore, who visited him, besought him to pay religious worship to the aforesaid tree, and to offer up his prayer in its presence, that he might have a child born to his house. But he replied, "how can that senseless tree, which is nothing more than a piece of wood, hear my prayer or answer it; but we know that the accomplishment of every prayer depends only on the character of the previous karma of the person offering it up, and if one desires to have offspring, this also depends on the karma of both father and mother. I decline therefore to betake myself to any such refuge as this."
But the nobleman's relations urged their request, and cited instances to prove the truth of their allegations, and said, "You cannot doubt the truth of what we say—it is impossible not to believe these things—we know many undoubted instances in which the prayer for offspring made to that tree has been granted; do you therefore go, make your request known with strong vows, and you may be sure that a child will be born."
[Kiouen XXXIV contains 6320 words, and cost 3.16 taels].
§ 1. Then Supra Buddha, the nobleman, overpowered by the entreaties of his kinsfolk, having collected certain of his household together, he put into their hands hatchets and other instruments for cutting and digging, and proceeded with them to the spot where the Nyagr6dha tree was standing. Arrived there, he spake thus: "You tree! I have heard from certain persons that you have the power of granting the request of those who pay you religious worship! I would have you know, therefore, that if you will procure for me the birth of a well-favoured man-child, I will offer you every kind of offering, and pay you becoming veneration; but if you cannot procure this boon for me, then I will cut you down, and root you up, and utterly destroy you, branch by branch, and bit by bit, till there is nothing left of you, and the very ashes remaining after you are burnt I will scatter to the winds and on the waters, till you are utterly annihilated, and put clean out of remembrance."
Now, when the Deva of the tree heard these words, he was greatly distressed, and in much perplexity; and thought thus with himself: "What power have I to give this man a child? all that depends on his previous conduct and the destiny attaching to him from his former works. And yet men persist in saying that this tree, in which from old times I have taken my residence, has the power to do this or do that, and if I do not give him a child he threatens to cut down my abode. Alas! alas!" The tree Deva, thus weeping and lamenting, resolved to go straightway to Sakra, King of the Gods, and lay his case before him. Then forthwith he ascended up to the Trayastrifishas Heaven, and falling down at Sara's feet in humble adoration, he spake thus: "All hail! illustrious King of Heaven! Oh! that you would help me! A certain nobleman threatens to cut down the tree in which I dwell, and root it up, destroy and burn it, unless I grant him his request that he may have a son! Pity me, illustrious king! Give me some mode of escape; nor permit that tree to be thus destroyed and burnt for want of some expedient by which the desire of this nobleman may be gratified!" Then the Lord of Heaven (Tien Chu),1 Sakra Maha Raja, spake thus to the tree Deva: "Utter no such words as these, oh Deva! as though I had power to procure such a boon for this nobleman; for all this depends entirely on his own individual merit. But fear not, nor tremble thus, oh Deva! for I will forthwith examine into this matter, and see what the character of his destiny is."
Now, at this time there was a certain Deva Putra dwelling in the Trayastrifishas Heaven, whose sojourn there was just about to expire, as was known by the five signs of decadence, which are these: the flowers in the head-chaplet begin to fade; there exudes a perspiration from beneath the arms; the garments begin to grow old and soiled; the brightness of the body pales; and the Palace couch of that Deva no longer has charms for him, but he wanders restlessly this way and that.
1 Tien-chu, as is well known, is the expression used by the R. C. Missionaries in China for "God".
Then Sakra, seeing this was the case with the Deva Putra in question, addressed him thus: "My son! your destiny here is fulfilled, and, according to your Karma, derived from former births, you are now about to descend to earth and to be born amongst men! but you shall be born in a distinguished family!" Then the Deva Putra replied: "Would that I knew in what place and position I am about to be born." Then Sakra Raja answered: "In Jambudwipa there is a certain city called Benares, in which dwells a nobleman very rich and prosperous; his name is Supra Buddha; but though so rich, he despises all because he has no child! Pray, then, make up your mind to be born in that city and in his house!" Then that Deva Putra, who had long set his mind on the acquisition of final deliverance, answered Sakra Raja thus: "great and illustrious King of Heaven, I desire to be born in a house not far from where Prabhapala Deva, who lately inhabited this heaven, now abides; for he has arrived at perfect enlightenment, and is now able to deliver all who come to him from the misery incident on continual transmigrations. I prefer, therefore, not to be born in the house of that rich man of Benares." To him Sakra Raja replied: "But it so happens that in the neighbourhood of that very place, the enlightened-one is about to preach the excellent Law, so that here is your opportunity at once to become his disciple and arrive at the deliverance you seek." Then the Deva Putra consented to be born there. On this, the mighty Sakra addressed the tree Deva, and said: "Go and tell that nobleman that his prayer is answered! he shall have a son, who shall in his turn leave his home and become a Shaman."
And so the Deva Putra descended from Heaven and was incarnated in the womb of the nobleman's wife, on which she acquainted her Lord with the fact, and invited him to rejoice in prospect of the birth of a child. Then the Lord nourished and cherished his wife, giving her every sort of food and nutritious support, in order to procure a propitious birth; he also distributed alms at the four gates of the city to all the poor, with every other necessary. So, at the end of the ninth month, the child was born—his skin bright as gold, his head round, his nose like that of the parrot, etc.—of perfect beauty. He had four nurses appointed to take special charge of him. And then, when the time came to fix his name, they called him "Yasada", because of the glory that appeared above his head when he was born. And so he remained the only child of his parents. And thus he gradually increased in stature and also in all useful knowledge.
Meantime, his father built for him three magnificent palaces, one for the winter, one for the summer, and one for the spring and autumn. He was supplied with every sort of pleasurable indulgence, and surrounded by an ever watchful retinue.
Now it so happened that the world-honoured one had just begun to preach the law at Benares, when Sakra Raja, descending from heaven, came to the palace of Yasada, and entering into the inner apartments stood there, and addressed the youth as follows: "Dear Yasada! it is full time for you now to leave your house and become a religious mendicant!" Yasada having heard the summons in silence, immediately at dawn ordered his chariot to be prepared for him to go forth in it to view the beauties of the adjoining gardens!
Now it so happened that on this very morning, the worldhonoured one, having robed himself in the orthodox way, carrying his alms-dish in his hands, proceeded to the city of Benares in company with Asvajit, to beg his meal for the day. Walking along with a dignified gait he entered the city, and as it so happened, he encountered Yasada as he was proceeding towards the gardens. The latter, beholding the beautiful appearance of Buddha's person, was filled with inexpressible joy; he descended from his chariot and bowed down in reverence at his feet, and having three times circumambulated him in token of respect, he again mounted his chariot and proceeded on his way.
Then Buddha, with a gentle smile on his face, addressed Asvajit, and said: "Did you see this youth, Yasada, and the way in which he behaved?" Asvajit replied in the affirmative; on which the World-honoured one continued: "On this very evening this youth, Yasada, will become a recluse, and soon will become a Rahat."
Now, Yasada having gone round the gardens, it happened that Sakra transformed himself into an old and decrepit woman, just dead, and ready to be buried, from whose body the worms came out, and entered in everywhere, feeding on the carcass. Yasada, beholding this disgusting sight, his heart was filled with sorrow, and he thought thus: "What pleasure can there be in any such condition as this." He returned to his palace full of these thoughts, and lay down to sleep. Then Sakra, by his Divine power, caused all the women to be overpowered with sleep, and the lamps of the palace to burn with a sort of supernatural light. Meantime, Buddha, perceiving by his innate power that Yasada on this night would become a recluse, proceeded towards a certain river called Varna for Varana). [This signifies "to separate and exclude".] Crossing over this river, he made for himself a small Pansal (leaf-hut), and there sat down cross-legged. Yasada having awoke, and seeing all the women lying about in disorder, arising from his couch, passed out. Meantime, Sakra caused a bright light to go before him as he pursued his way to his Father's palace, and there seeing the women lying about in disorder, as in his own, he proceeded on and came to the gates of the palace, which opened of themselves without noise; then, proceeding to the gate of the city, which was called Bhadra-pati, this too opened of itself, without any noise; on which Yasada advanced slowly to the bank of the river Parana. Now, at this time the river had suddenly become very shallow, and all along the banks the birds were feeding in great numbers; when lo! the light which had gone before him suddenly disappeared, and Yasada was left alone in the gloom. He then began to bewail his unhappy condition, on which Buddha, from the other bank of the river, caused his body to emit a dazzling brightness, and with his arms stretched out towards Yasada, he exclaimed "Welcome! Welcome ! oh! Yasada. There is nothing to fear here! there is no danger here! nought but rest and peace! and perfect independence!" and so the Gatha says:—
"Tathagata, having perceived his state of mind,
Then Yasada, hearing these words, lost all fear, and experienced a feeling of perfect rest, just as the thirsty and way-worn traveller, who lights upon a lake of pure water, cool and refreshing, bathing