The story of Mandhatar

(The beginning Bodhisattvavadanakalpalata No. 4 p. 123; the rest,

Divyavadana No. 17 p. 210—224)

It came to pass that King Uposadha made a journey to visit the various hermitages in his land. And it happened that he came to a place where the rsi's had just prepared water to produce pregnancy; tired and thirsty with his long journey, the king drank it all up before any one could prevent him. The result was that on this return to the city, it appeared that he was pregnant.

Upon his forehead there was a soft, painless swelling that increased in size, at last it burst open and a little prince was born marked with all the signs of an eminent man. He was given the name of Mandhatar. When he was grown up and had been declared crown-prince, Mandhatar set out on a journey through the land. There he received the news that his father had fallen sick, but when advised by his councillors to return and take possession of the kingdom, he gave no ear to them and even when soon after came the news of his father's death, he determined not to return to the city and declared that if he had a right to the succession, the coronation could take place just as well where he was. By the aid of the yaksa Divaukasa who acted as herald to the prince, various materials were brought together and at Mandhatar's urgent wish even a royal residence appeared, for a coronation must take place in the capital of the kingdom. When all this magic performance was completed only by the utterance of a wish, Mandhatar was crowned king with the seven jewels of a ruler of the world—disk, elephant, horse, gem, general, wife and householder .


In the neighborhood of Vaicali, there lived in the forest five hundred rsi's and their devotions were very much disturbed by the clatter made by the herons who nested there. This made them so angry that one of the rsi's uttered a curse that the wings of the birds should break and they could only make use of their legs. When the king on his journey saw the birds walking about like this, he belted the reason and was so infuriated at the cruelty of the .rsi's that he ordered them to quit his kingdom. This they did and knowing that Mandhatar would become lord of the fourquarters of the earth, they settled far away on the Sumenl. Then the king began to exercise his power of wishing for the benefit of his subjects. When he saw the land being tilled and heard the reason, he immediately caused grain to fall from heaven. The same with the cotton, when he saw it being cultivated to provide them with clothes; afterwards, noticing that they began to spin the cotton, he wished for a rain of spun threads and at last when he saw them weaving, he obtained a shower of readymade garments. When he inquired of his ministers, by whose merit they thought all this happened, to his astonishment they replied: "By that of your Majesty and our own." In order to show them that he alone had the power, he arranged a shower of gold for seven days, to fall only in his own apartments, not a bit anywhere else.

Now the king became filled with ambition and inquired of Divaukasa what lands there were not yet under his rule that he might conquer. Divaukasa mentioned Purvavideha, and Mandhatar set out with his army to subdueit, not by the ordinaryroadbut through the air, and everywhere he went he was preceded by the seven jewels. He conquered the country and again asked Divaukasa the same question—which was again answered by the name of another country and with the same result. The text then describes over and over again end with the same words various countries' till nothing remains to be conquered and the yaksa suggests a visit to the heaven of the three and thirty gods. This is accomplished. As the sculptor gives us nothing of this j ourncy, it is useless to give any details and we need only notice an episode of the five hundred rsi's, now settled on the Sumeru, who try to stop the prince's expedition, but are told they have not to do with the herons of Vai,cal1 and whose attack fails. This episode too is not pictured, although the first encounter of the king with the r$i's was given. Thus Mandhatar approached the city of the gods, his army being often hindered by the guards but, at last he himself appeared and forced them to precede him like heralds to announce his arrival. The gods understanding that his great power was the result of virtuous deeds, decided to receive him hospitably. The now-following description of the city of the gods has had no more attraction for the sculptor than the previous journey. Mandhatar entered the council chamber and formed the wish that Qakra, king of the gods, should offer him half his throne. This was done, both sat on the same throne and were not to be distinguished from each other, except that the eyes of the mortal king blinked, while those of the god were fixed.

Soon after this, war broke out between the gods and the asura's, which was first indecisive. Mandhatar however succeeded in raising his chariot above all the asura's and they rightly ascribing this to his previous exercises of virtue, became dispirited and were conquered. King Mandhatar exclaimed: "Whose is the victory ? " and his ministers replied "Your majesty's." At this the king was beside himself with pride and presumption. The fatal wish entered his mind to throw the king of the gods from his throne and reign himself over gods and men. But no sooner had this thought taken shape than Mandhatar fell, and great was his fall! Hurled down to the earth he knew that death was at hand. His followers gathered round him to hear his last words and he told them he saw too late how all those things he had striven ceaselessly to attain had never given him any satisfaction, even though he had achieved more than any man before him. Here ends the real story of Mandhatar; what the text gives further, is of little importance to us.

31.King Uposadha exercises charity

It is not certain that the first four reliefs really belong to the story of Mandhatar; but for want of further explanation it seems to me better for the time being to include them in this tale. No. 31 and 32 would then be the charity, nowhere mentioned in the text, exercised by king Uposadha. In these two scenes it is to be noticed that on the first the monarch causes the distribution to be done by others and on the second he gives the gifts with his own hand.

On the first relief the king is sitting in a pendapa set up on the right, on a wide couch with cushions, with two women sitting next to him; on the right two female attendants are kneeling. He is just giving orders to a maid-servant who stands on theleft of the pendapa, separated from him by a box and some bowls and trays, she has a large dish in her hand with rings and jewels on it. Behind her is a bearded man in the same sort of dress as the royal servants, holding one of the ornements in his right hand; if his dress was different we should consider him one of those receiving gifts, but it looks as if he must belong to the royal servants. In the background of this group is another maid-servant and a male attendant is carrying a large box on his shoulder to the left, where the distribution is actually going on. One of the servants takes with both hands from a large tray held before him that is full of moneybags, while a second standing behind him hands over a valuable piece. The receivers of the dole are away to the left, men and women in a standing and kneeling row; the last of them, one a woman with a child in a slendang, have already been served, the front ones still have their hands raised. According to their dress all these people belong to the poorest class in contrast to those on the following relief.