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Asilakkhaṇa Jātaka (No.126)

In Bārāṇasī was a brahmin who could tell, by smelling them, whether swords were lucky or not. One day, while testing a sword, he sneezed and cut off the tip of his nose. The king had a false tip made and fastened to his nose so that no one could tell the difference.

The king had a daughter and an adopted nephew, who, when they grew up, fell deeply in love with each other. They wished to marry, but the king, having other plans, kept them apart. The prince bribed an old woman to get his beloved for him. The old woman reported to the king that his daughter was under the influence of witchcraft and that the only way of curing her was to take her to the cemetery under armed escort, where she must be laid on a bed under which was a corpse, and there she must be bathed for the purpose of exorcism.

The prince was to impersonate the corpse, being provided with pepper in order that he might sneeze at the right moment; the guard were warned that if the exorcism succeeded, the dead body would sneeze, rise up and kill the first thing it could lay hold of. The plot succeeded, the guard taking to their heels when the prince sneezed. The two lovers were married and were forgiven by the king. Later, they became king and queen.

One day the sword-testing brahmin was standing in the sun when the false tip of his nose melted and fell off. He stood hanging his head for very shame. “Never mind,” laughed the king, “sneezing is bad for some, but good for others. A sneeze lost you your nose, but a sneeze won for me both my throne and my queen.”

The story was related in reference to a brahmin of the kingdom of Kosala who tested swords by smelling them. He accepted bribes and passed the swords only of those who had won his favour. One day an exasperated dealer put pepper on his sword so that when the brahmin smelt it he sneezed, slitting his nose. The monks were once talking about him when the Buddha entered and told them the story of the past. The two brahmins were one and the same man in different births. J.i.455‑8.

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