Story of Bandhudatta
Now in the city Nagapuri, there was a king, Suratejas, the chief of the glorious, like the Indra of the serpents in the city of the Nagas. There was a rich man, Dhanapati, friend of the king, and Dhanapati’s wife Sundari, fair in conduct. They had a son, Bandhudatta, who had his grandfather’s name, well-bred and virtuous, and he reached youth. Manabhanga, by whom his enemies minds were broken, was king in the city Kausambi in the country Vatsa. There was a rich man, Jinadatta, devoted to the religion of the Jinas, who had a wife Vasumati and a daughter, Priyadarsana. She had a friend, the daughter of the Vidyadhara, Angada, named Mrgankalekha, devoted to the Jinas’ doctrine. The two friends passed the days with worship of the gods, service to the guru, study of dharma, et-cetera.
One day it was said by a sadhu, who had come in his wandering, to a second sadhu, in reference to Priyadarsana,” After bearing a son, she noble, will become a mendicant.” Mrgankalekha rejoiced at hearing that, but did not tell anyone.
Dhanapati asked for Candralekha, the daughter of Vasunanda, a sheth of Nagapuri, for his son and he gave her. On an auspicious* day at an auspicious hour the wedding of Bandhudatta and Candralekha took place with a great festival. Candralekha, whose hand had just been marked with the wedding-ribbon in the afternoon, was bitten by a snake at night and died. In the same way six wives of his, just married, died on the same day as the wedding from the maturing of karma.
“Bandhudatta has a poison-hand.” Then, though asking, he did not obtain another maiden even with much money. He thought, “What is the use of money to me deprived of a wife,” and wasted away day by day, like the moon of the dark half. Dhanapati thought, “My son, grieved, will die. I shall put him in business to make him forget his grief.” After this decision, the sheth instructed Bhanudatta, “Son, go to the Sinhalas or somewhere else to trade.”
At his father’s command Bandhudatta took much goods, embarked on a boat, crossed the ocean, and went to the Sinhalas. He pleased the lord of Sinhala with valuable gifts; and he exempted him from customs and dismissed him with favor. After selling his goods there and making the desired profit, he bought goods in exchange and started for his own city. When he, going by sea, had come near his own country, his ship, rocked by a storm, was wrecked. He got hold of a wooden plank by the favor of Fate and reached Ratnadvipa, the ornament of the sea-coast.
After landing and bathing in a tank in a grove of mangoesB bearing fruit, he ate the sweet mangoes, an herb for the disease of hunger. Taking fruit along the road in this way, he went to Mt. Ratna, climbed it and saw a jeweled shrine. He entered the shrine of Aristanemi there, paid homage to the image in it and to the munis living there. He was questioned about news about himself first by the eldest muni; and gradually he told about the death* of his wives, the wreck of his ship, et-cetera.
Enlightened by the muni, he accepted the Jinas’ religion, showing pleasure at his arrival there which had borne fruit.
A Vidyadhara, Citrangada, said to him: “You are my co-religionist because of Jinadharma, fortunately. Shall I give you the magic art’ going-through-the-air,’ or shall I take you to a desired place, or shall I give you a maiden?” Bandhudatta said: “Whatever magic art you have is surely submissive to me. That place only, where there is sight of such gurus, is desired by me.”
After saying this, he became silent and the Khecara reflected: “He wishes a maiden. Certainly there is approval of what is unopposed. Investigating fully, I shall give him, noble, a virtuous maiden who will not die as soon as married to him.” After deciding so, he led Bandhudatta to his own house, honored him especially with suitable bath, food*, et-cetera.
Citrangada asked all his Khecaras, “Has any maiden been seen in Bharatavarsa who is worthy of him?” Mrgankalekha, the daughter of his brother, Angada, said: “Father, do you not know my friend, Priyadarsana? She, like the woman-jewel in beauty, is my friend in Kausambi, the daughter of Sheth Jinadatta. Formerly I walked at her side. ‘After bearing a son, she will become a mendicant,’ a muni said, with reference to her, and I heard it.”
Citrangada instructed Khecaras, Amitagati and others, to arrange for Priyadarsana, suitable for Bandhudatta, to be given to him. The Khecaras took Bandhudatta and went to Kausambi. They camped in a garden outside ornamented with a shrine of Parsva. Bandhudatta entered the shrine with the Khecaras, paid homage to Parsva and the sadhus and listened to dharma* from them. Jinadatta, to whom co-religionists were dear, had gone there and, after inviting them, took Bandhudatta and the Khecaras to his house. After Jinadatta had entertained Bandhudatta and the Khecaras with dignity with baths, seats, et-cetera, he asked the reason for their coming.
The Khecaras, thinking, “This is an enterprise of love; falsehood is a branch of love,”310 at once made up this story and said: “We have come from Mt. Ratna, having undertaken a tour of the holy places. We went to Mt. Ujjayanta and paid homage to Nemi. We were honored with food, et-cetera by Bandhudatta, who belonged there, like a brother because we were co-religionists. Because he was devoted to dharma and was always averse to women, a very strong affection developed between him and us. We came from Ujjayanta hereto pay homage to Sri Parsva and Bandhudatta came also, drawn by affection for us.”
After hearing this speech of the Khecaras and after seeing Bandhudatta, Jinadatta reflected, “He is a suitable husband for my daughter.” So reflecting, Jinadatta had him urged by the Khecaras and said to Bandhudatta, “Marry my daughter.” Bandhudatta considered, as if portraying unwillingness for that. At that same time, Amitagati announced Citrangada. Citrangada having come with the procession of the bridegroom’s friends, Jinadatta married Bandhudatta to his daughter. After giving instructions to Bandhudatta, Citrangada went to his home and Bandhudatta remained there, delighting Priyadarsana. He had a car-procession of Sri Parsva made and, thus devoted to dharma*, he remained there for four years.
As time passed, Priyadarsana conceived and saw an elephant* entering her lotus-mouth in a dream. One day Bandhudatta told his wife that a desire to go his own home had arisen. She told Jinadatta and Jinadatta loaded him with very great wealth and dismissed him with his wife. “I am going to Nagapuri.” He put the people who had set out with him because of the announcement in front like brothers and going very slowly, a great traveler on the right road, reached the forest Padma, the sole abode of evil.
Guarding the caravan, worried, after traversing the forest for three days, he had the caravan stop on the bank of a pool. As the caravan was camped there, in the last watch of the night an attack by the village-chief, Candasena, took place. After seizing the property of the caravan and leading away Priyadarsana, the soldiers turned her over to Candasena. When Candasena had seen her, sad-faced, his compassion aroused, he thought, “Shall I send her to her own home?”
As he was considering, he saw a slave-girl, Cutalata near her. “Who is she? Whose daughter? Tell me everything.” The slave-girl said: “She is the daughter of Jinadatta, a merchant of Kausambi. Her name is Priyadarsana.” On hearing that, he fainted at once. When he had regained consciousness, the village-chief said to Priyadarsana:
“My life was saved in the past by your father. Do not be afraid. Hear from the beginning: I am a noted chief of thieves. One day when I had gone out for stealing, I went to a mountain-village in the country Vatsa at the beginning of night. Surrounded by thieves, drinking wine, I was found there by the guards and was handed over to Manabhanga by the ones who captured me. He had me beaten. As I was being led out to execution, my release was obtained by your father, compassionate, going to break his fast at the end of pausadha. After giving me clothes and money, your father dismissed me. You are the daughter of (my) benefactor. Therefore, instruct me. What can I do?”
Jinadatta’s daughter said, “Brother, now find Bhanudatta, my husband, who was separated (from me) by the attack.” “I will do so,” the village-chief replied and escorted Priyadarsana to his house with exceeding devotion and considered her like his own divinity. Then Candasena himself went to look for Bandhudatta, after comforting Priyadarsana with the gift of fearlessness.
Now Bandhudatta, separated from his wife, standing in a grove of date trees, unhappy, thought: “Separated from me, she, long-eyed, will not be able to live a day. My wife is probably dead. With what hope can I live in future? Death* is a suitable refuge.* There is no other course for me. Now I shall die, hanging myself from this big saptacchada?’ With these thoughts he moved forward.
When he got near to the saptacchada, he saw a big pool in front of it and in it a rajahansa grieved by separation from his mate. Seeing him miserable like himself, he was very grieved. For the unhappy man knows the mental suffering of the unhappy. While Bandhudatta stood so, in a moment the rajahansa was united closely with the hansi seated in the shade of a lotus-bed. After seeing him united with his wife Bandhudatta thought:
“Again the union of the living with the wife takes place. I shall go to my own city. Penniless, how shall I go there? Going to Kausambi without my wife is not suitable. After going to Visala and taking money from my maternal uncle, giving it to the general of the thieves, I shall obtain the release of my wife. After going with my wife to Nagapuri, from my own house I shall give the money to my maternal uncle by some means, remembering what was done.
With this plan, going east the next day, he went in great distress to a place named Giristhala. While he rested in a Yaksa’s temple concealed by a tree, near the road, a traveler suffering from fatigue came. Asked by Bandhudatta, “Whence have you come?” the traveler announced clearly, “I am from Visala.” “Is the caravan-leader there, Dhanadatta, all right?” asked by Bandhudatta, the traveler, sad-faced, said:
“When Dhanadatta was away on business, his eldest son, sporting with his wife at home, paid no attention to the king as he was passing by. Angered by that offense, the king seized his goods and put his household, sons, wives, et-cetera in prison. Dhanadatta has come to his sister’s son, Bandhudatta, for the sake of a balance of a crores of rupees of a ransom. Traveling (on the way), he was quit by me yesterday.”
Bandhudatta thought: “Alas! What has Fate done! The one in whom I had hope, has fallen into an ocean of calamities. Let it be so. Staying right here, I shall see my uncle. After I go to Nagapuri, I shall get the money for him quickly.” So reflecting, he stayed. On the fifth day his uncle came with a caravan, with few companions, very distressed. Dhanadatta sat under a tamala treeB in the garden of the Yaksa’s temple and was seen by Bhanudatta.
In order to test him, Bandhudatta said: “Tell from where you came here and where you are going.” Dhanadatta said: “I have come from Visala and I am going to the city Nagapuri, good sir.” Bandhudatta said: “I too am going to Nagapuri, but who of your family lives there? Tell.” He said, “My nephew Bandhudatta is there,” and Bandhudatta replied, “Bandhudatta is a friend of mine.”
After ascertaining that he was his uncle, Bandhudatta stayed there without disclosing himself and they ate and slept together. At dawn Bandhu went to the river for bathing and saw that the dust of the ground in a thicket of kadambaB was tinged with the color of jewels. He dug up the ground with a sharp horn and came to a copper box filled with jewels and ornaments. After taking the box secretly, going to Dhanadatta, and telling him how it had been obtained, he said politely: “I have obtained all the news from you, a traveler. Accept this box because of your merit, uncle of my friend. After both of us have gone to Visala and paid money, we will release our men from the king’s imprisonment and then we will go to Nagapuri.”
With these words, Bandhudatta set the box down in front of him and became silent. Dhanadatta said: “Shall we see your friend Bandhudatta because of having the men released, good sir? After that, he is the authority.” Bhanudatta bowed and announced who he was. Dhanadatta said, “Oh! How you reached such an unfortunate state?” When his experiences had been told by Bhanudatta, Dhanadatta said, “Son, first we shall rescue Priyadarsana from the Bhillas.”
Just then the king’s armed soldiers came quickly and arrested all the travelers camped there on the suspicion that they were robbers. While Dhanadatta and Bandhudatta were throwing the object into the Yaksa’s temple, they were caught by the king’s men.”What is this?” questioned by them, they said, “From fear* of you, we hid this object of our own.” The king’s soldiers took them with the box and the other travelers before the king’s minister.
After examining and releasing the other travelers, the minister questioned the uncle and nephew zealously, “Where are you from and what is this?” “We have come from Visala and now we have started to Latadesa, taking this money acquired before.” The minister said, “If this is your property, in that case tell everything that is in the box with some sign of proof.” Not knowing (what was in the box), terrified, they said, “If the box has been stolen, open it yourself, minister, and let it be examined.”
The minister himself opened the box and saw ornaments in it marked with the king’s name. Remembering that these objects had been lost for a long time, the minister reflected: “This has been deposited by these two from objects stolen before. The robbers will be caught through these two being beaten.” With this idea he had the whole caravan seized by his men. He had the two beaten severely by guards like messengers of Yama. Distracted by heavy blows, they said: “We came yesterday with the caravan. If that is not so, we must be killed by you then, after consideration.”
A man of the place said in reference to Bandhudatta, “I saw him in this caravan five days ago.” Asked by the minister, “Do you know him?” the caravan-leader said, “Who, indeed, knows such travelers going in a caravan?” After hearing that, the minister, angered, had the nephew and uncle detained in a prison resembling hell.
Now Candasena, after wandering for a long time through the forest Padma without finding Bandhudatta, went home, ashamed. Before Priyadarsana he promised: “I will bring your husband within six months, or I will enter the fire.” After making this promise the village-chief sent spies to Kausambi and Nagapuri to find Bandhudatta. After some days they returned and said to Candasena, “We, roaming about, have not seen Bandhudatta.”
Candasena reflected: “Miserable from separation from his wife, surely he is dead by leaping from a precipice or entering a fire. Four months have passed from the limit of my promise. Now I shall enter the fire. Bandhudatta is hard to find. Or rather, I will stay until Priyadarsana gives birth. After taking her son to Kausambi, I shall enter the fire.”
While he was reflecting thus, the door-keeper came and said: “By good fortune you prosper today. Priyadarsana has borne a son.” Delighted, the village-chief gave him a gratuity and said to the goddess of the forest Padma, named Candasena: “If my sister and her son are well for one month, I will give you an offering of ten men.” When twenty-five days had passed safely, he sent men in every direction to bring men for the sacrifice.
Now Bandhudatta and his maternal uncle passed six months in that prison resembling hell. Then a great thief was found by the guards at night a mendicant with money and they arrested him and handed him over to the same minister.”Mendicants do not have such money. So he must be a robber.” After this decision, the minister ordered him to be killed. As he was being led out for execution, thinking, “The muni’s speech is not false,” he said with remorse: “No one, except me, robbed the city. All the loot is in the mountains, rivers, gardens, et-cetera. The goods should be returned to those from whom it was stolen. It is deposited like a treasure. Then kill me.”
The guards told the minister and the minister saw all the goods in the places described, except one box. The minister said to the mendicant: “Why this conduct of yours repugnant to (your) belief and appearance? Tell fearlessly, clever man.”