Defense of Prasenajit – 3
Asvasena said: “Fulfill our wish characterized by marriage with King Prasenajit’s daughter. The ocean of existence must certainly be crossed by you who have such an intention. You should act for your own advantage at the right time, after marrying and having a son.” Parsva was not able to transgress his father’s command and he married Prabhavati to destroy pleasure-karma. At the people’s insistence, the Lord passed the days, sporting with her in gardens, pleasure-peaks, et-cetera.
One day Parsva, occupying the terrace on the top of the palace, began to watch the city Varanasi from curiosity. The Lord saw men and women of the city going outside in haste, carrying baskets of flowers as offerings. Parsva asked his attendants, “What great festival is there today that the people, wearing many ornaments, are seen going in haste?” Someone explained: “Today there is no great festival, but another reason is present, Majesty. Today an ascetic, named Kamatha, has come here outside the city. He is observing the penance of five fires,242 et-cetera. The people of the town go to worship him.” Parsvanatha went with his retinue to see the show; and saw Kamatha engaged in the penance of the five fires. The Lord, who had three kinds of knowledge, saw a great serpent being burned inside a piece of wood which had been thrown into a firepit. When he saw that, the Blessed One, an ocean of compassion, said: “Alas for wrong knowledge! Since even in penance there is wrong knowledge, not compassion. What sort of river is it without water; what sort of night without a moon; what sort of a rainy season without a cloud,; what sort of dharma* is it without compassion? How is there dharma of a creature, like an animal, pitiless, not having a trace of the principle of dharma, allowing bodily torments?”
Hearing that, Kamatha said: “Rajputs know horses, elephants, et-cetera certainly; but we munis know dharma.” Then the Master ordered his servants: “Pull that piece of wood out of the firepit. Split it open carefully that he may be convinced.” They pulled out the wood, split it carefully, and a very large serpent came out hastily. For the serpent burned somewhat in it the Blessed One had namaskaras recited by men and the renunciation of everything made instantly. The serpent, absorbed in meditation*, pure-minded, accepted that, watched by the Blessed One with eyes moist from compassion. By the power of the namaskaras and the sight of the Master, he became after death* a Naga-king, named Dharana.”Oh, the knowledge of the prince! Oh, such discernment!” Being so praised by the people, the Master went to his house.
After seeing and hearing that, Kamatha practiced penance especially foolish or pernicious. Whence is there knowledge of persons with wrong belief? After he died, Kamatha became an Asura, named Meghamalin, in the Meghakumaras in the Bhuvanavasins.