6 October 2022

#59. Śaṅkhapāla

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Ajanta Cave 1

The narrative was identified by Foucher (1921, narrative no. 13).

A nāga (serpent) king named Śaṅkhapāla visited a hermit to find out the reason behind his rejection of the worldly life. The hermit instructs the nāga king that he must practice asceticism to be reborn as a human. Thereafter when Śaṅkhapāla was practicing asceticism a group of young people started dragging him with a noose in his nose. A cattle dealer offered sixteen heads of cattle to secure the release of the nāga. The nāga invited the cattle dealer to his splendid palace in the waters. He accepted the invitation and experienced the heavenly life meant for kings for a year. Thereafter, he returned to the world. The nāga decided to become a hermit and expressed his wish to be reborn as a human and suffer all the pains as only humans could, to gain salvation.—Nāgarāja Śaṅkhapāla was none other than the Buddha in a former existence.

—Source: Singh 2019, 23-24; cf. Schlingloff 2013, I, 279-281 .

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