#50. Maitrībala

Ajanta Cave 1, hall, right wall. Maitribala, EPISODE 1, detail: ‘King Maitribala, in his palace amidst his retinue, is talking to his wife about the power of benevolence.’ (#50, Schlingloff 2013, vol. I, 239)

The subject was identified by Dieter Schlingloff (1977b, 913).

There lived a king by the name of Maitrībala (‘The Power of Benevolence’). He was extremely benevolent towards his subjects. Five demons, disguised as brahmans, entered his kingdom. They saw a lonely cowherd and asked him why he was not afraid of living on his own. The cowherd told them that in the kingdom of Maitrībala no one had any fear. Agitated, the demons went to the king’s court and begged for food. The king ordered for food to be served, which was vegetarian. The demons morphed into their original forms and said that they are demons and they only eat flesh, blood, and bone. The king’s nature was neither to harm anyone nor to refuse anyone who asks for something. So he ordered his sergeants to cut a chunk of flesh from his own body (despite all-round protests) and offered it to his guest. Overwhelmed, the demons asked the king to kindly stop. The king extracted a promise from them that henceforth they would not harm anyone. Upon this, Indra descended from the heaven, and there was accompanied a divine flower shower. Indra healed Maitrībala’s wounds with herbs.

King Maitrībala was none other than the Buddha in a former existence. For more details, vide Schlingloff 2013, I, 238-241; and Singh 2019, 18-19.

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