26 September 2022

#65. Bhagavatprasūti

3 min read

Cave No. 2

Identification: some episodes by Foucher (1921), others by Schlingloff (1983; 1987), cf. Schlingloff (2013, vol. I, p. 378). The legend is from the life of the Buddha.—

When the time had come for the Bodhisattva to have his last rebirth, celestial hymns were chanted. After that, he went to the assembly of the gods and informed them about when, where, and how he would take his last birth on earth. Then, on a full moon night, he took the form of a young, white, six-tusked elephant. The queen, Māyā, wife of King Śuddhodana of Kapilavastu, saw this sequence in her dreams and related it to her husband in the morning. On the king’s request, the brahmans interpreted the queen’s dream, saying she would give birth to a son who would become either a universal monarch or an enlightened Buddha. The king, pleased by this prediction, offered presents to the needy people in his city. A palace was built by the deities so that the queen could stay there during her pregnancy. She neither suffered physical or mental anxieties associated with women in her state, nor did she feel lust for a man. The queen could feel the Bodhisattva in her womb. As the time for delivery neared, Māyā requested her husband to send her to Lumbinī Park, where she could enjoy nature in full bloom. The king arranged her trip and she left in a chariot with a number of attendants. In the grove, she found a fig tree decorated with cloths and pearls. As soon as she held a branch of that tree with her right arm, the Bodhisattva appeared from the right side of her body. Then, Indra and Brahmā appeared, received the infant and covered him with a divine silk cloth. When the Bodhisattva stood on the ground, two Nāga kings, Nanda and Upananda, emerged from the earth with a flow of warm and cold water to cleanse the Bodhisattva. Then, the Bodhisattva opened his divine eyes, looked over the world, took seven steps in all directions and announced his mission. Though the queen’s body was clean and intact, ponds of water and fragrant oil materialised before her, with heavenly girls to serve her. One week after the Bodhisattva’s birth, the queen died and the infant was taken to Kapilavastu and handed over to his aunt. The Bodhisattva was to be offered to the gods, according to custom. As soon as Śuddhodana entered the temple with the Bodhisattva, all the gods moved from their respective positions and fell at the Bodhisattva’s feet to worship him.

—Source: Singh 2019, 31-3 Schlingloff 2013, I, 374-375

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