Ajanta Cave 2, Mahoṣadha avadana.

#38. Mahoṣadha

Ajanta cave 1

The narrative was identified by Goloubew (1927, 16).

A prince was banished from his kingdom due to a court intrigue. He managed to reach Videha, his uncle’s kingdom. Shortly, the uncle died. So, the prince was crowned as the king of Videha. He found that there were six very corrupt ministers. So, he curtailed their powers after appointing a prime minister who was the mayor’s son named Mahoṣadha who was renowned for his intellect and acumen in law. His wife was Viśākhā, the daughter of a carpenter. She was a mix of beauty and brains.

The six lecherous ministers used to make unwelcome advances to her in order to corrupt her too. Wise Viśākhā made a plan to expose them. She pretended to be attracted to them. One day, she invited each of them to her chamber at different times in the night. They arrived at their respective hours. One by one, she shoved them into different baskets. Next day, she dragged them all to the royal court and exposed them before the king in her husband’s presence.

The king was very impressed by her intelligence. He desired to have a wife like her. So, he sent Mahoṣadha to win over the daughter of a neighbouring king. Mahoṣadha did the job.

Thereafter, the six ministers were removed from their positions and exiled from the kingdom.—The Prime Minister Mahoṣadha was none other than the Buddha in a former existence.

—Source: Singh 2019, 29-30; cf. Schlingloff 2013, I, 174-177.

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