Mahāsīlava Jātaka (No. 51)

The Bodhisatta was once king of Benares under the name of Mahāsīlava. He built six almonries and ruled in all goodness. One of his ministers, having intrigued with a member of his harem, was expelled and took service under the king of Kosala. He caused several bands of ruffians to invade the territory of Mahāsīlava at different times. When they were caught and brought before Mahāsīlava, the latter gave them money and sent them away, telling them to act differently in the future. In this way the king of Kosala was easily persuaded by his minister that Mahāsīlava's kingdom could easily be captured. He therefore set out with an army, and as the people of Mahāsīlava were allowed to offer no resistance, the king and his ministers were captured alive and buried up to their necks in the cemetery. In the night, when jackals approached to eat them, Mahāsīlava fastened his teeth in the neck of the jackal that came to him. The jackal started howling and his companions fled. In his struggles to get free, the jackal loosened the earth round Mahāsīlava, who managed to free himself and then his companions.

In the cemetery two Yakkhas were having a dispute about a dead body, and they asked Mahāsīlava to settle it. But he wished first to bathe, and they fetched him water and perfumes and food from the usurper's table in Benares and also his sword of state. With this he cut the body in half, giving half to each Yakkha, and, with their aid, he entered the usurper's room where he slept. When the latter showed signs of terror, Mahāsīlava told him of what had happened and granted him forgiveness. His kingdom was then restored, and Mahāsīlava exhorted his subjects on the virtues of perseverance.

The story was related to a backsliding monk. Devadatta is identified with the treacherous minister of the Jātaka. J.i.261-8.

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