Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Prince and the Dragon Princess

Borobudur.TV, The Bhuridatta Birth Tale (Jataka 543) edited by Wisdom Quarterly
One of many golden figures at Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand (_cFu/flickr.com)

"I am a dragon (naga) prince great in power,
invincible with a poisonous breath.
Issuing forth from a prosperous land [planet]
with an angry bite that smites with death;

My mother is Samuddaja,
Dhatarattba is the sire I claim,
Sudassana my youngest brother,
and Bhuridatta is my name."

While dwelling at Savatthi, the Buddha told this story of the past about some layperson who observed the fasting-days.

Now it is said that this laypeople arose early in the morning of a fasting-day, took upon themselves the fasting vows, and gave alms [offerings to spiritual mendicants]. After having their meal, they took perfumes and garlands in their hands, went to Jetavana Grove, and respectfully seated themselves to the side at a time when the Buddha had set to give a discourse on the Dharma.

The Buddha, coming to the Hall of Truth [pavilion], sat down on the adorned Buddha-seat, and looked over the assembly. Now supremely enlightened teachers like to converse with those among their followers or others with a mind to benefit one or more of them with a spiritual quickening.

Therefore, on this occasion, because he knew that a discourse concerning former teachers would arise in connection with the laypeople observing the fasting-day, he asked them:

"O, lay disciples, do you keep the fast-day?"

They replied in the affirmative, and he continued: "This is right and well done by you, O lay disciples. Yet it is no wonder that you who have a teacher like me should keep the fasting-day. Sages of olde who were without any teacher forsook great glory and kept the fasting-day."

Then at their request, the Buddha related this story of the past.

Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, he established the youth as his viceroy. When the king saw his son's great glory, however, he became suspicious that the young man might attempt to seize the kingdom and rule it prematurely. The king therefore instructed his son as follows:

"Depart now and dwell for the time being where you please. When I die you will inherit the kingdom."

Agreeing to his father's wishes, the prince saluted the king, went out, and proceeded to the river Yamuna, where he built a hut of leaves at a pleasant spot located between the river and the sea. There he dwelled, living on roots and fruit [in the manner of an ascetic].

Sea Princess, Dancer of Dreams by Josephine Wall (Bhakti Omwoods/Facebook)

Now at that time there was a young dragon (naga, reptilian, human-hybrid, reptoid, powerful serpent-like) female from the Naga-world beneath the ocean who had lost her husband.

On account of her carnal passions, whenever she saw the happiness of the other sea dragons who had husbands still living, she would leave the Naga-world and wander by the seashore. One day she observed a man's footprints in the sand along the shoreline. After following the tracks she came upon the hut of leaves where the prince was dwelling.

Just then the prince was away, having gone in search of fruit to eat. Curiosity getting the best of her, she entered the hut and saw the wooden bed where the prince slept as well as the rest of the young man's furniture. She then thought to herself:

"This appears to be the dwelling of some ascetic. But is he an ascetic because of his devout faith or not? I shall test him. If he is an ascetic out of faith and bent upon self-purification, well then, he would not be willing to lie on an adorned bed. But if at heart he is a lover of pleasure then he will lie down on the bed I prepare. And if this is the case then I will make him my husband and we will dwell here together!"

After collecting divine flowers [from the reptilian space world where nagas originate] and perfumes from the Naga-world, she went back to the prince's abode, prepared a bed of flowers, scattered perfumed powder about, and further adorned the hut. Then she returned to the Naga-world.

When the prince returned in the evening, he saw what she had done. While munching on the various fruit he had gathered, he wondered aloud: "O, these sweet scented flowers and this bed so pleasantly arranged! Who has prepared this bed?"

As the young man was no ascetic, his heart became filled with pleasure just thinking about how nice his dwelling had become. He happily reclined on the flowers and quickly fell into a deep sleep.

The next day, the prince arose at sunrise and went off in search of food, without taking the time to sweep the hut. When he departed, the female dragon returned and seeing the withered flowers scattered about the bed, she immediately knew what had happened.

"This man is a lover of pleasure," she said, "not an ascetic out of faith! I shall therefore be able to capture him."

After sweeping out the old flowers, she brought in fresh ones and spread them over the bed. Then she adorned the leaf hut, strewed flowers on the covered walkway leading up to it, and once again returned to the Naga-world.

That night the bemused prince once again enjoyed the flowery bed and spent the next morning wondering: "Who is adorning my abode?"

To find out, instead of leaving to gather fruit, he concealed himself nearby. When the dragon lady returned, bringing with her more perfumes and flowers, he was immediately enchanted at the sight of her walking along the covered path leading up to his hut and fell in love with her.

Without letting himself be seen, he entered the hut just as she was preparing to adorn his couch.

"Who are you?" the prince inquired.

"My lord, I am a naga woman," she replied.

"Do you have a husband?" the prince asked.

"I am a widow, lord. What is your name, and where do come from?" she inquired.

"I am Brahmadatta-kumara, the son of the king of Benares. Why do you wander, my dear, leaving the abode of dragons far behind?"

The Human World
"My lord, on account of my desire for carnal passion and having seen the happiness of the other naga women who possess husbands, I became discontented. So of late I have been wandering about the human world in search of a husband."

"I am not an ascetic here out of faith," replied the prince. "I came to live here because my father drove me from his kingdom. Well, do not vex yourself, my dear, for I shall be your husband and we will dwell here in concord."

She at once consented. And from that day onward they lived together in harmony. By means of her magic power, she made a magnificent house [or ship] appear, together with a rich bed and spread. And no longer did the prince survive on roots and fruit. Instead he feasted on divine [extraterrestrial] food and drink.

After some time had passed, the prince's reptilian wife conceived a son, whom they named Sagara-Brahmadatta. And as soon as the [hybrid] child was able to walk, the wife brought forth a daughter. Since the girl had been born on the seashore, they called her Samuddaja.

The King is Dead
One day a forester from Benares came upon their splendid dwelling. When the couple emerged to greet him, the man recognized the prince immediately. After staying there a few days, the forester said: "My lord, I will tell the king's family that you are living here."

Back in Benares, the ministers were preparing funeral services for the king, who had just passed away. [This is amazing because through countless Buddhist stories "Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares," which must mean a Brahmadatta was reigning, that is, the dynasty was continuing, not a single super long lived monarch.]

After cremating the monarch, they met together on the seventh day to deliberate the fate of their territory.

"A kingdom without a king cannot stand," they said. "We know not where the prince dwells nor even whether he is alive or dead. We must find him and send for our new king."

Returning to the city, the forester heard the sad news of the king. So he went to the ministers and told them that he had stumbled upon the whereabouts of the king's son. Paying the forester great respect, the ministers accompanied him to the prince's dwelling by the Yamuna.

Engaging the prince in friendly greetings, they informed him that his father had passed away and asked him to assume the throne. The prince thought to himself: "I will learn first what the my dragon princess thinks."

He went up to his wife and said, "Lady, my father is dead, and his ministers have come to raise the royal umbrella over me. Let us go and reign together in Benares, where you shall be the chief among my 16,000 queens."

"My lord, I cannot go," replied his dragon wife sadly.

"Why not?" he asked.

"Dragons possess a deadly poison. Because we become easily displeased over mere trifling matters, what would the anger of a co-wife likely produce? If I ever see or hear anything that disturbs my harmony, I need only cast an angry glance and my poison would instantly scatter like a handful of chaff. Therefore, I cannot go with you."

Sea nymphs, even from serpent lines, can be very beautiful.

The next day, when the prince again asked her to accompany him to Benares, she said: "On no account will I go with you. However, our children are neither fully naga nor fully human. If you love me then you must take them with you and watch over them.

"Because they are of a watery nature [the result of genetic combining] and therefore delicate, they would die if they went by the road, in which case they would bear the twin burdens of wind and sun. So I will hollow out a boat and fill it with water so that you can safely transport them to Benares. And when they have arrived in the city, you must have a lake prepared within the palace precincts so that they may play in the water and not suffer."

Then after saluting the prince and walking round him respectfully, she embraced her children, folded them between her breasts, and kissed them on their heads. After entrusting the children to her husband, shedding many tears, she vanished on the spot and returned to live once again among the nagas.

Overcome with sorrow at the prospect of never seeing her again, the prince cried as he departed. Wiping his eyes, he proceeded to the ministers, who sprinkled him with water to consecrate him saying: "Your majesty, let us go return to the city."

But before they departed, the new king commanded them to hollow out a vessel, put it on a cart, and fill it with water. "Scatter all sorts of flowers of various colors and scents on the surface," he said. "For my children [sons] have a watery nature and they will go along joyfully playing there." The ministers did as they were instructed. More

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