Cave No. 1

Identification: Foucher (1921, narrative no. 2).—The miffed wife of a nāga (serpent) king went to a royal court to complain that a hunter had caught her husband just so that he could put up his catch for display and earn some cheap brownie points. So far, the nāga king had been leading a perfectly blameless existence and had recently observed a fortnight’s fast. So, weakened, he had allowed himself to be captured. But, all knew that he was powerful enough to destroy the entire city, if the nāga so desired.

The king asked the hunter to compensate for the nāga’s capture. The hunter stubbornly held his ground but later he released the nāga. Thereafter, the nāga king invited the human king over to his palace. The king initially refused because he was rather scared of the nāgas. He then agreed when the nāga king assured him that he would not be harmed. When the king entered the glittering living quarters of the royal serpent and saw all precious objects casually scattered around, he wondered aloud about the virtuous life of the nāga king and how it would be to be reborn in the world

of humans. The nāga king explained that only human beings, as against mere nāgas, could escape the cycle of rebirths.—Nāgarāja Campaka was none other than the Buddha in a former existence.

—Source: Singh 2019, 31-33; cf. Schlingloff 2013, I, 282-286

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