The story of Rudrayana

(Divyavadana No. 37, pag. 544581)

During the time that the Buddha dwelt in Rajagrha, and in that city king Bimbisara ruled with justice, in the far-distant city of Roruka reigned king Rudrayana, whose rule was no less beneficent. Now there came merchants from Rajagrha with their goods to Roruka; the king was eager to hear news of the land where they came from and the merchants had many good things to tell about their country and their king. This caused Rudrayana to long for intercourse with Bimbisara, so he gave them a letter and a chest of jewels for their king. The merchants soon returned with a letter from Bimbisara and a chest filled with rich garments. It was now Rudrayan. a's turn to send a gift and he dispatched his famous cuirass which not only had miraculous powers but was ornemented with priceless jewels. Embarrassed by the magnificence of this present, Bimbisara sought counsel of Buddha who advised him to get his (Buddha's) likeness painted on to a cloth. At first the painters could not succeed in this, but at last the Buddha himself threw his shadow on the cloth and caused it to be outlined in color, the space left being filled in with suitable words and verses. Then Bimbisara wrote a letter telling Rudrayan. a that he was now sending him the most precious thing the world contained, which he must receive with due honor. And so it was done; Rudrayana escorted the treasure with troops along decorated roads into the city. When the cloth was unrolled, some merchants who happened to he present, shouted "Hail Buddha !" The king at once made inquiries as to who or what Buddha might be, and was told his story.

He pondered over the writing on the picture then and meditated further on these principles, finally attaining the rank of srota-apanna. He now desired greatly to obtain the presence of a bhiksu and dispatched another letter to Bimbisara whereupon, selected by the Buddha himself, the venerable Mahakatyayana appeared and was received with respect. His preaching made numbers of converts among the population. Chief among these were two heads of families, Tisya and Pusya, who attained the grade of arhat and whose remains after death were honored and preserved in two stupa's.

The king's approval of Mahakatyayana's preaching roused also in the women's apartment a longing to hear the doctrine; the bhiksu however declared he was not allowed to enter therein and advised that a bhiksun1 should be sent for from Rajagrha. Then a nun named Qaila was sent, whose words made a deep impression, especially on queen Candraprabha. When she received warning of her approaching death (on the occasion of a dance), she asked and obtained her husband's consent to her becoming a nun, in hope of reaching the arhat-ship and reincarnation as godess. This came about and according to her promise she appeared to the king as godess and urged him to follow her example which would make their reunion in heaven possible. The king followed her advice, he resigned the kingdom to his son Qikhandin, whom he counseled to govern justly and act on the advice of the wise ministers Hiru and Bhiru; he then retired to Rajagrha where he was ordained monk by the Buddha himself. When the venerable Rudrayana was begging in the streets of Rajagrha, an impressive meeting took place between him and Bimbisara who could not understand the renouncement of his former colleague and tried with various inducements to persuade him to return to the pleasures of life; but Rudrayana remained firm.

Meanwhile things had been going wrong in Roruka. King Qikhandin had started to rule unjustly and oppress his subjects and when the two ministers had wearied him with their repeated warnings he dismissed them and took bad councillors in their place. Merchants related all this to Rudrayana, who thought it his duty to return to Roruka and set his son again in the right path. His plan became known to the two evil ministers, who, fearing their downfall, wished by all means to prevent Rudrayana's return. They made the king believe that his father intended to take the government again into his own hands and persuaded him to consent to the old king being put to death. The murderers encountered Rudrayan. a on his way; before being killed, he gained permission to withdraw himself and seated beneath a tree he attained the grade of arhat.

Pronouncing with ]liS last words that his son was doomed to hell for the murder of his father and of an arhat, he willingly allowed himself to be put to death. ikhandin realized too late the crime he had committed, when the ministers brought the murderers to him. In his despair he began by recalling Hiru and Bhiru and so the evil councillors endeavoured to convince him that his remorse was misplaced. The queen-mother undertook to assist them by telling her son that Rudrayana was not his father, and then to shew him that the arhat-ship was worthless, they made a hole under the stupa's of Tisya and Pusya, put two young cats to live in it and trained them to appear at a certain sign, take a bit of meat and then perform the pradaksina of the stupa and return to their hole. The two ministers requested the king to go with them to the stupa's and repeated the ad~uration: as sure as ye, Tisya and Pusya, have always deceived people and are now changed into cats dwelling in your own stupa, I adjure ye to fetch this bit of meat, to walk the pradaksina round the stupa's and then return to your hole. The cats performed what had been taught them and the king was c~uite convinced that the arhat-ship was an imposture. He continued his evil ways, deprived the monks and nuns of their nourishment so that they deserted the city, and at last meeting once outside the city Mahakatyayana who endeavoured to avoid him by going another way, on the evil advice of his ministers he caused all his followers to throw handfuls of sand on to the monk, until he was buried under a sandheap. I; ortunately Hiru and Bhiru soon arrived and with the help of some cowherds rescued Mahakatyayana. The holy man then prophesied the end of the evil king and his city; for six days it would rain precious things, but on the seventh a storm of sand would annihilate the whole city. The two ministers must get ready a ship and on the sixth dayload it upwith the showers of jewels and then sail away. This advice was followed and they, with their treasures, became the founders of new cities Hiruka and Bhirukaccha.

Not until the rain of sand began to fall, did Mahakatyayana leave the city doomed to ruin and he was acccompanied by Cyamaka, the son of Hiru, and the godess of Rorul~a, who had asked to follow them. They flew through the air and came to Khara. Here the godess was obliged to remain, because one of the citizens in order to secure her beneficent presence for his town, made her promise to take care of his stick and key till he returned and then made away with himself so that she could not go away. The saint left behind as a remembrance his bowl for which a stupa was erected and a festival founded. Then he continued his flight with Cyamaka and came to a land where the young man was offered the title of king because they were in need of a good monarch and noticed the miracle, that when he sat under a tree the shadow of the tree never left him. So Mahakatyayana came alone to Vokkana. Here he presented his staff to his former mother and a stupa was also built over this object. Finally after giving at the Sindhu his shoes to the godess of the North to be honored in a stupa, he arrived at Travesty, where he related what had happened to the interested bhiks.u's.

64. Rudrayana asks the merchants about Rajagtha and Bimbisara

The first seven scenes are taken up with the introductory events, the exchange of presents between the two kings. It is often rather difficult, by the way it is depicted, to make out whether the receiving or the dispatch of a gift takes place, for instance on No. 68 the chest of garments being sent away or arriving. Foucher thinks it is impossible to distinguish a regular change from one court to the other. It seems to me on the contrary quite discernible, only we must take into consideration that a more elaborate version of the tale has evidently been followed than the one known to us from the Divyavadana. Two points make this evident. According to our text Rudrayan. a's first present was a letter with a box of jewels. On the Barabudur however we see the letter on No. 65 and the jewelbox not until No. 67; so we might gather from this that two different consignments were meant. This looks the more probable when we see the intervening No. 66 with its richly spread table. I cannot agree with Foucher that this may be a farewell or reception banquet for the amateur ambassadors; it seems evident that the feast is spread for the king himself. The importance of the richly-spread table is accounted for only when, as in the adjacent reliefs, the presenting of a gift is intended and the one king offers the other a feast of his national dishes. If this is correct then the alternation of the two courts appears; first Rudrayana interviews the merchants (64) and sends a letter that Bimbisara receives (65). Then we have always the receiving of the gifts; the banquet by Rudrayana (66), the jewelbox by Bimbisara (67), the garments by the first (68), the cuirass by the second (69) and finally the arrival of the Buddha's portrait at Roruka (70).

No. 64 gives as follows. In a handsomely decorated pavilion with makara-heads on the top of the columns, king Rudrayana sits with his queen on a couch ornamented on the back with makara-heads; he is conversing with three men seated on the floor to the left, the first of whom is replying to him with hands in sembah; these are of course the merchants giving the desired information about their king and country. On the right next to the pavilion are a few of the kings retinue. On the left is a larger group; three men standing with garments and a bowl of valuables in their hands, which they are evidently offering to the kneeling and standing persons in front of them; they have already received many kinds of objects and some of them hold out their hands for the rest. This group resembles the ordinary representations of charity. As these persons do not look poverty-stricken but very well-dressed, we might think the sculptor intended to give us a picture of buying and selling to make it clear that here are merchants doing business. Nevertheless the kneeling attitude of most of them is more suitable for the receiving of gifts, so that taking all together we may conclude this is what the scene represents.