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CHAPTER XXXVII.

The History of Puma,

Now there was in a certain village between Kosala and Kapilavastu a great Brahman, whom Suddhodana had made first minister of the country. He was exceedingly rich and prosperous, and his palace was beautiful as that of Vaisravana,1 the king of the Northern Region. He had one only son whose name was Purnamaitrayani putra, of great personal beauty, unequalled for grace, and perfectly acquainted with the Vedas and Shasters. He was born on the same day as Siddartha, and was of a most gentle disposition. Now it came to pass when he grew up that Purna, becoming dissatisfied with worldly occupation and pleasure, resolved to become an ascetic. Accordingly, on a favourable occasion, without naming his intention either to father or mother, he left his home with thirty companions, and having reached the slopes of the Snowy Mountains, they practised the life of the Paribrajakas (i.e., hermits).

After a time, having acquired spiritual faculties, he was able to enter dhyana and perceive hidden truths. Being so gifted, he said that he would use his spiritual power to find out what had become of Prince Siddartha, and whether, as yet, he had gained the dominion of a sacred Chakravarti monarch. On this, exercising his faculty of divine sight, he perceived that the prince had now become completely enlightened, and was preaching the law for the good of Devas and men in the Deer park near Benares. On this he was filled with joy, and communicated the intelligence to his thirty companions.

Afterwards, setting out from the Snowy Mountains, they all flew through the air, even as the Royal Hansa king pursues his flight, and thus arrived together at the Deer Park. Then Purna going to the side of Bhagavat, bowed down before him, and placed his foot upon his head; and then raising his face, he kissed the foot of Tathagata, as he prostrated himself before him, and afterwards uttered these laudatory stanzas:

"Oh thou! who in former days dwelt in the Tusita Heavens, And thence came down in the shape of a white elephant,

1 The same as Kuvera, the God of wealth.

To be incarnated in the womb of the Divine Maya,
To be born in the royal house of the Sakyas;
As the lotus springs unoontaminated from the water,,
So was thy body pure and spotless in the womb.
What joy and delight was it to thy mother,
Desiring no carnal joys, but rejoicing only in the Law,
Walking in perfect purity, with no stain of wickedness,
Beholding her son dwelling in her womb, as in a golden cas-
ket," etc., etc.

Then after some time, Purna and his thirty friends all became Rahats. It was this Purna of whom the world-honoured spake as follows : "Bhikshus! know ye that of all my disciples, this Purna will be the first for preaching the law amongst men;" and so the Gatha says:

"The world-honoured dwelling at Benares,
Spake in gentlest words to the great congregation,
This Bhikshu Purna, a true disciple,
Shall be the most distinguished of those who preach my law."

Story of Narada.

§ 2. Now there was in South India, in this continent of Jambudivipa, a country called Avanti; and in the middle of that country there was a village called "Monkey-food"; and in this village a rich and prosperous Brahman of the family of Katyayana; his palace like that of Vaisravana, and himself perfectly versed in all the literature of the Vedas and Shasters, so that the King made him chief minister of the realm. Now, the eldest son of this nobleman, having gone forth on his travels to complete his education, returned, after a time,.perfectly versed in all the polite learning of the day; able to repeat the Vedas and Shasters, and acquainted with all the learned works of the time. Then the father said to his second son, who was called Narada, "You too, my son, may now proceed on your travels and, like your brother, perfect yourself in the literature of the day." Then Narada, having heard these words, replied, "Noble father! I am already perfectly acquainted with all these works; so that if my honourable father will now assemble together the people, I will repeat the Vedas from beginning tt o end." On hearing this, his father was greatly rejoiced, and having convoked a large assembly, his son Narada repeated before them all the Vedas and the various Shasters, as he had promised to do.

Then all the assembly exclaimed, " Well done! well done! clever youth!" and his father, filled with joy, bestowed on him great stores of wealth and jewels. But his elder brother, being vexed at the celebrity which Narada thus acquired, began to plot against his life; on which his father made the following plan for his younger son to escape the malice of his brother. There was a certain city in that southern region called "Oudyani," and not far from the city was a mount called Panda (or, Pandagiri), in a cave of which an old Rishi called Asita was living. This Rishi had so thoroughly mastered the Vedas and the Shasters that he was able to exercise every supernatural power, and to practise the four sorts of ecstatic reverie. Then the rich Brahman and his wife brought Narada to this old man and entreated him to take him as a disciple, and perfect him in all the knowledge necessary for the acquirement of supernatural power.

Then the Rishi, accompanied by Narada, went to the neighbourhood of Benares, and having made a leafy Pansal outside the city, he dwelt there, and during six hours of every day continually repeated this exhortation, "Narada! Narada! a Buddha has now been born; go, then, shave your head, leave your home, practise the conduct of a Brahmana, and become a follower of the sage, for your own and others good." Shortly after this the Rishi died, nevertheless, Narada, blinded by the adulations of men, was unable to seek the refuge afforded by Buddha, the Law and the Church.

At this time, Elapatra, a Nagaraja, conceived a strong desire to forsake sin and become a religious person. This desire had haunted him ever since the time of Kasyapa Buddha Tathagata, who had told him that after a certain number of years Sakya Muni Tathagata would be born; but as yet he knew not whether this had come to pass or not. Now there was also another Naga R&ja, called Sagara, at whose palace were frequent assemblies of the Nagas, and to these assemblies Elapatra repaired. On one occasion, meeting a certain Yaksha Kaja at the palace of Sagara, he asked him if Sakya Buddha was already born in the world; to whom the Yaksha replied, " I know not indeed; all I know is this, that in a certain desolate region there is a Yaksha re called Arkabandu, and in this city there is a couplet of verses inscribed, which are to this effect—" If no Buddha is born in the world, then no man can read these verses;" and, "if they can be read, still no one can explain them except Buddha alone." Then Elapatra addressed that Yaksha Raja and said, "Dear Yaksha! go, I pray you, and see if you can read these verses, and, if so, bring me an account of them." Then the Yaksha Raja, having gone to this city of Arkabandu, soon returned to the palace of Sagara Raja and said, " Rejoice, oh Elapatra ! for I can read the verses, and therefore be sure that Sakya Tathagata has been born! And if any one can be found able to explain their meaning, be sure that he is Buddha himself."

Then Elapatra, with great joy, received these Gathas from the Yaksha.

Meanwhile, the two dragon Rajas, taking with them a Naga maiden of exceeding beauty, and vessels full of the choicest food and other rare offerings, went to the banks of the Ganges and standing in the open space adjoining the river, repeated these G&thas in the hearing of all passers by—

"In what does true independence consist?
What is it that causes pollution?
How can one attain perfect purity?
What is it that deludes men most?
Why is the deluded man so utterly deceived?
And who is the really wise?
From what associations must one be freed,
Before he can be said to be free indeed?"

Then these Dragon Rajas offered the gifts of rice and money, and the Naga girl as a wife, to any one who could answer these questions. At length Narada, who was now dwelling in Magadha, knowing that the people would despise him if he did not undertake to answer these Gathas, went boldly to the Naga Bajas and asked them to repeat the verses in his hearing; then, having heard them, he promised after seven days to return with the true interpretation of them.

And so it came to pass that the six heretical teachers who resided at Benares endeavoured to find out the hidden meaning of these lines, in vain; till at last Narada, hearing that Buddha was residing in the Deer park near the city, went to him, and respectfully requested him to explain the Gathas as he recited them. Then Buddha said—

"Because of the 'six' (AbhidjSas) a man becomes independent,
The pollution of Kingship is the great pollution;
To be thus polluted and yet to know it not,
Is the great delusion of the world;
To empty the great River (of transmigration),
This is the end of all expedients;
And he who is able to do this
Is the only Wise man."
Then Narada, having brought this explanation, Elapatra, the
Naga Raja, besought him to say where and from whom he had
received it; for, said he, "Whoever communicated it to you, he
is the true Buddha come into the world." Then Narada answered,
"As you say, oh Naga Raja, the explanation is not mine,
It is the great Sage, the Holy Buddha, who has revealed it,
Whose body is marked by all the distinguishing signs;
He alone was able to unravel its meaning."
Then Elapatra, having inquired where Buddha was dwelling,
Narada again replied in verse—

"The great independent one (Isvara)1 among gods and men
Is now dwelling within the Deer garden of Benares;
There he is declaring the doctrines of his system
With a voice like that of the lion in the forest."

Then Narada, having further bared his right shoulder and bent his right knee in adoration towards the spot where Buddha was residing, Elapatra also in the orthodox manner made obeisance towards the same quarter, and repeated the formula, "Namo Bhagavata Tathagataya Arya Sambuddha" (three times).

Then Elapatra resolved not to use any spiritual transformation but in his own natural body to behold Buddha; on which, extending his body from Taxasila to Benares, a distance of three hundred

1 The word "independent" means here "self-dependent," or "self-sufficient" (swayambhu).

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