Friday, December 1, 2017

LOVE: Vain beauty reborn in dung (sutra)

D. L. Ashliman, The Jataka Tales (; Dhr. Seven, Ananda M. (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

How a vain woman was reborn as a dung-worm
Once upon a time there was a king, Assaka, reigning in Potali, a city in the kingdom of Kāsi.

His queen consort, named Ubbarī, was very dear to him. She was beautiful, charming, and graceful with physical beauty surpassing other women, though not so fair as a goddess.
She died, and at her death the king plunged into grief and became sad and miserable. He had the body laid in a coffin and embalmed with preserving oil and ointments then tucked beneath his bed. There he lay without food, weeping and wailing.

In vain his parents and kinsfolk, friends and courtiers, priests and laymen bid him not to grieve. Because all things pass away, they could not move him to paralyzing grief. As he lay in sorrow, seven days passed by.

The Bodhisatta = The Buddha-to-be.
Now the Bodhisatta [Buddha-to-be] was at that time, in that former birth an ascetic who had gained the Five Supernatural Faculties and the Eight Attainments, and he dwelt at the foot of the Himalayas. He was possessed of perfect supernatural vision, and as he looked around [what we now call] India with his divine vision, he saw this king lamenting. Straightway he resolved to help him.
By his miraculous power he rose in the air (levitated) and alighted in the king's pleasure park. There he sat on the ceremonial stone radiant like a golden image.

A young Brahmin of the city of Potali entered the park, and seeing the Bodhisatta, he greeted him and sat down. The Bodhisatta began to talk pleasantly with him.

"Is the king a just ruler?" he asked.

"Yes, sir, the king is just," replied the youth, "but his queen has just died. And he has laid her body in a coffin and lies down lamenting her. Today is the seventh day since he began. Why do you not free the king from this great grief? Virtuous beings like you ought to [be able to] overcome the king's sorrow."

"I do not know the king, young man," replied the Bodhisatta, "but if he were to come and ask me, I would tell him the place where she has now come into the flesh again [been reborn], and cause her to speak for herself."
The Wheel of Rebirth (samsara) showing various planes of existence: Bhava-chakra of Yama, the kind judge of the dead, holding Wheel of Life, and a buddha pointing the way out.
"Then, reverend sir, stay here until I bring the king to you," answered the youth. 
The Bodhisatta agreed, and the boy rushed into the king's presence and told him. 
"You should visit this being who possesses divine vision!" he urged the king. 
The king was overjoyed at the thought of seeing Queen Ubbari, so he got into his chariot and rushed to the pleasure garden.
After greeting the Bodhisatta, he sat down respectfully to one side and asked: "Is it true, as I am told, that you know where my queen has come into being again?"

"Yes, I do, lord king," the Bodhisatta replied.

Then the king asked where that was.

Dung beetle larva are worms (shutterstock)
The Bodhisatta replied, "O king, she was intoxicated with her great beauty, so she fell into negligence. As such she did not do fair and virtuous acts [acts of merit, good karma]. Therefore, she has now been reborn as a little dung-worm who lives in this very park."

"I don't believe it!" exclaimed the king.
"Then I will show her to you and cause her to speak," the Bodhisatta said calmly.
"Please, do make her speak!" urged the king. 
Worms become beetles living in dung.
The Bodhisatta commanded: "Let the two beings busy rolling a lump of cow-dung come forth before the king!" And by his power he caused them to come, and indeed they came.
The Bodhisatta pointed one out to the king: "That is your Queen Ubbari, O king! She has just come out of this lump of dung, following her husband the dung-worm. Look and see."

Husband and wife worms rolling lumps of dung
"What! My Queen Ubbari a dung-worm? I don't believe it!" shrieked the king.

"I will cause her to speak, O king!"

"Pray, make her speak, reverend sir!" the king begged. 
The Bodhisatta by his power gave her speech. 
"Ubbari!" the Bodhisatta said .
"What is it, reverend sir?" she asked in a human voice.
"What was your name in your former birth?" the Bodhisatta asked.

Who was I, what did I think and do (karma)?
"My name was 'Ubbari,' sir," she answered, "the consort of King Assaka."
"Tell me," the Bodhisatta went on, "who do you love best now -- King Assaka or this dung-worm with you?"

"O, sir, that was my former birth," she explained. "At that time I lived with him in this park, enjoying shape and sound, scent, savor and touch [the five strands of sensuality available in the human world]. But now that my memory is confused by rebirth, what is he to? Why, now I would cut the throat of King Assaka and would anoint the feet of my husband, the dung-worm, with the blood flowing from the king's throat!"

And in front of the doting king, she uttered these verses in a human voice:
Once with great King Assaka, who was my husband dear,
Loving and beloved, I strolled about this garden here.
But new sorrows and new joys have made the old ones flee.
Now far dearer than King Assaka is my worm to me.
When King Assaka heard this, he repented of his foolishness on the spot. And at once he caused the queen's body to be removed from under his bed. And he washed his head. He saluted the Bodhisatta and returned to the city, where he married another queen and ruled in righteousness.

Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung? (Brahm)
The Bodhisatta, having instructed the king [on virtue and goodness], set him free from sorrow, and returned again to the Himalayas. More: Table of Contents

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