Illustrations from the Taima Mandala
Shakyamuni on the Vulture Peak
Devadatta's display of supernatural power
and winning favor of Ajatashatru, who imprisoned
Queen Vaidehi brought food and drink to the
king and the Buddha's disciples were sent
to him through the air; Ajatashatru visited
the prison and found the king still alive.
Enraged, Ajatashatru threatened to kill Vaidehi,
but was stopped by the ministers. At Vaidehi,'s
request, the Buddha's disciples appeared
and then the Buddha himself. She prostrated herself before him.
 Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha
was staying on the Vulture Peak in Rajagriha
[341a] with a large assembly of twelve hundred
and fifty monks. He was also accompanied
by thirty-two thousand bodhisattvas led by
Manjushri, the Dharma Prince.
|King Bimbisara imprisoned by his son Ajatashatru
 At that time, in the great city of Rajagriha,
there was a prince named Ajatashatru. Instigated
by his wicked friend, Devadatta, he seized
his father, King Bimbisara, confined him
in a room with seven-fold walls, and forbade
all the court officials to visit the king.
Vaidehi, the king's consort, was devoted
to him. After having bathed and cleansed
herself, she spread over her body ghee and
honey mixed to a paste with wheat flour,
filled her ornaments with grape juice and
secretly offered this food and drink to the
king. He ate the flour paste and drank the
juice and then asked for water. Having rinsed
his mouth, he joined his palms in reverence
and, facing the Vulture Peak, worshipped
the World-Honored One from afar, said, "Mahamaudgalyayana
is my close friend. I beseech you to have
pity on me and send him here to give me the
Then Mahamaudgalyayana flew as swift as a
hawk to the king. Day after day he came like
this to give him the eight precepts. The
World-Honored One also sent the Venerable
Purna likewise to the palace to expound the
Dharma to the king. Three weeks passed in
this way. Because he had eaten the flour-paste
and heard the Dharma, he appeared peaceful
|Queen Vaidehi's imprisonment
 Then Ajatashatru asked the guard, "Is
my father still alive?"
The guard replied, "Great king, his
consort spreads flour paste over her body
and fills her ornaments with grape juice
and offers these to the king. The monks Mahamaudgalyayana
and Purna come here through the air to expound
the Dharma to him. It is impossible to stop
Hearing this, Ajatashatru became furious
with his mother and said, "Because you
are an accomplice to that enemy, mother,
you too are an enemy. Those monks are evil,
for with their delusive magic they have kept
this wicked king alive for many days."
So saying, he drew his sharp sword, intending
to kill her.
At that time the king had a minister named
Candraprabha who was intelligent and wise.
Together with Jivaka he made obeisances to
the king and said, "Great King, according
to a certain Vedic scripture, since the beginning
of this cosmic period, there have been eighteen
thousand wicked kings who have killed their
fathers out of their desire to usurp the
throne, but we have never heard of anyone
who has committed the outrage of killing
his mother. Your Majesty, if you commit such
an outrage, you will bring disgrace upon
the ksatriya class. As your ministers, we
cannot bear to hear what people will say.
As this would be the act of an outcaste,
we could no longer remain here."
Having spoken these words, the two ministers
grasped their swords and stepped back. Agitated
and frightened, Ajatashatru said to
Jivaka, "Are you not on my side?"
Jivaka replied, "Your Majesty, please
restrain yourself and do not kill your mother."
Hearing this, the king repented and begged
their forgiveness. [341b] Having thrown away
his sword, he stopped short of killing his
mother and, instead, ordered the court officials
to lock her in an inner chamber and not to
allow her to leave.
|Shakyamuni's visit to Vaidehi
 Vaidehi, thus confined, grew emaciated
with grief and despair. Facing the Vulture
Peak, she worshipped the Buddha from afar
and said, "O Tathagata, World-Honored
One, you used to send Ananda to comfort me.
Now I am in deep sorrow and distress. Since
there is no way of my coming to look upon
your august countenance, World-Honored One,
I pray you send the Venerable Mahamaudgalyayana
and the Venerable Ananda here to see me."
When she had said these words, tears of sorrow
streamed down her cheeks like rain. Then
she bowed towards the Buddha in the distance.
Even before she raised her head, the World-Honored
One, who was then staying on the Vulture
Peak, knew Vaidehi's thoughts and immediately
ordered Mahamaudgalyayana and Ananda to go
to her through the air; he himself disappeared
from the mountain and reappeared in the inner
chamber of the royal palace.
After worshipping him, Vaidehi raised her
head and saw Shakyamuni Buddha, the World-Honored
One. He was the color of purple gold
and was seated upon a lotus-flower of a hundred
jewels. He was attended by Mahamaudgalyayana
on his left and Ananda on his right. Shakra,
Brahma, the guardian gods of the world and
other devas were in the air about him. Scattering
heavenly blossoms like rain, they paid homage
to the Buddha.
When she saw the World-Honored One, Vaidehi
tore off her ornaments and prostrated herself
on the ground. Weeping bitterly, she said
to the Buddha, "O World-Honored One,
what bad karma did I commit in former lives
that I have borne such an evil son? I wonder,
World-Honored One, what karmic relations
could have made you a relative of Devadatta?
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