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Asitābhu Jātaka (No.234)

The Bodhisatta was once a holy ascetic living in the Himavā. At that time the king of Bārāṇasī, growing jealous of his son Prince Brahmadatta, banished both him and his wife, Asitābhū. They went to the Himavā and lived in a hut of leaves. One day the prince, becoming enamoured of a kinnarī, followed her, forsaking his wife. (The kinnarī’s name was Candā, see Candā 9). Asitābhū went to the Bodhisatta and, having developed various superhuman powers, returned to her hut. Brahmadatta, having failed in his quest, returned to the hut where he found his wife poised in mid-air uttering songs of joy over her newfound freedom. When she left, he lived in solitude until, at his father’s death, he succeeded to the throne.

The story was told in reference to a young girl, the daughter of a servitor of the two chief disciples. She was married, but finding her husband neglectful of her, visited the two Chief Disciples. Under their instruction she attained the First Fruit of the Path and embraced the religious life, ultimately becoming an Arahant.

She was Asitābhū in the previous birth (J.ii.229 ff).

The story is referred to in the Vibhaṅga Commentary (p.470 f) in connection with a King of Bārāṇasī who, having gone into the forest with his queen to eat roast flesh, fell in love with a kinnarī and deserted his wife. When he returned to his queen he found her flying through the air away from him, having developed psychic powers. A tree-sprite then uttered a stanza, citing the example of Asitābhū.

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