20 May 2022

#53. Prabhāsa

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Cave No. 1

Identification: Schlingloff (1977c, p. 152).—

King Prabhāsa caught an elephant. He trained the animal and decided to take him out for a walk one fine day. The elephant sniffed out the odour of a female elephant, it being the mating season, and was immediately aroused. In the flurry of jumbo activity that followed, the king and his mahout saved themselves with the help of a stout branch of a tree. The elephant spent several days with his mate. Afterwards, the mahout took him back to the royal court. The king blamed the mahout for his improper training methodology but the mahout convincingly argued that he was not at fault and that no amount of coaching could tame animal instincts. To prove his point, the mahout ordered the elephant to eat a heated iron ball. The elephant prepared to eat the hot iron ball. The king was mighty impressed by the elephant’s subservience as well as his virility. Later, the king heard that only the Buddha could conquer carnal desires. Then, he made up his mind to take the path of a Bodhisatva.—King Prabhāsa was none other than the Buddha in a former existence.

—Source: Singh 2019, 31-33; cf. Schlingloff 2013, I, 244-248

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