|Mara is more Lucifer than Satan|
- Who is Upagupta? Ven. Upagupta (circa 3rd century BCE) was an Indian Buddhist monk. According to stories in the Sanskrit text Ashokavadana, he was the spiritual teacher of the Mauryan Buddhist, the Emperor of India Ashoka. Ven. Upagupta's teacher was Ven. Sanavasi, who was a disciple of Ven. Ānanda, the Buddha's cousin and personal attendant. Due to the absence of his name from Theravada Pali literature, it is assumed that Ven. Upagupta was a Sarvāstivāda (an extinct Buddhist school) monk. In Southeast Asian countries and Bangladesh, Ven. Upagupta is a great cult figure (Relics of the Buddha, John S. Strong, 2007, p. 145). In Burma he is known as Shin Upagutta. In the Lokapannatti Ven. Upagupta is sent by King Ashoka to tame Mara during an enshrinement ceremony festival. Afterwards, he asks Mara to take the material form (rupakaya, physical shape) of the historical Buddha so that everyone at the festival can see what the Buddha looked like (John S. Strong, The Legend of King Aśoka: A Study and Translation of the Aśokāvadāna, 1989). In literature: Rabindranath Tagore in his poem "Abhisar" collected in Katha relates a story of Ven. Upagupta. In the story, in the month of Sraban, the monk was sleeping in Mathura when Vasavdatta, the city's diva or courtesan, trips over and notices the monk. Enchanted by his handsome appearance, Vasavdatta invites him to go with her to her house. But Ven. Upagupta tells her that he cannot go with her at this point. But when the time comes, he will go. After seven months, in the month of Chaitra, the city folks go to a festival in the forest. Alone in the city, Ven. Upagupta goes beyond the precincts and finds Vasavdatta severely deformed by a disease with pustules covering her body. The city people had cast her out of the city's wall in disgust. The monk nurses her with care -- telling her that the time for their togetherness has come (Rabindranath Tagore, অভিসার). Tagore adopted the story with some changes from the Vodhisattwavadanakalpalata by Kshemendra (translated by Nobin Chandra Das, 1895, Calcutta), the 10th-11th century Kashmiri poet.
|Mara as Kamadeva (Eros, Cupid)|
A beautiful stage show suddenly appeared. It had pretty dancing girls and lively musicians. The people soon forgot about the sermon and crossed over to see Mara's show and enjoy the performances.
Ven. Upagupta watched the people slowly drift away then he decided to join them. After sitting with the crowd, he decided to teach Mara a lesson.
When the performance ended, Ven. Upagupta presented Mara with a garland of flowers.
"I cannot remove this coil," admitted Sakka. "Go see Maha Brahma [Great God/Great Supreme]," he advised, "who is the powerful one." So Mara went to see Maha Brahma and asked his help, but he also could not do anything. "I cannot remove this coil," admitted Maha Brahma. "The only one who can remove this coil is the person who put it on you." So Mara had to go back to Ven. Upagupta.
|One of the earliest depictions (Gandhara)|
|The next Buddha's physical form|