Cave No. 16
Identification: Schlingloff (1977a, p. 466 f.)—
Along with his six brothers, a sister, a friend, and servants, a brahman and his family had renounced the worldly life. They dedicated their lives to meditation. Each lived alone in a hut and met once in five days to receive spiritual discourse from their eldest brother. The maid collected lotus stalks (bisa) on a lotus leaf for each of them every day. To test their virtue, Indra stole the lotus stalks kept for the eldest brother on five successive days. When the ascetics met on the fifth day they were surprised by the eldest brother’s physical decay. When he told them about the theft, each brother pleaded innocence. They swore in front of a forest yakṣa, an elephant, and a monkey. It was when Indra appeared and confessed that he was responsible for the theft. He had done it to test their virtues and asked for forgiveness.—The brahman ascetic was none other than the Buddha in a former existence.