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Kaṭṭhahāri Jātaka (No.7)

Brahmadatta, king of Bārāṇasī, while wandering about in a grove, seeking for fruits and flowers, came upon a woman merrily singing as she gathered sticks. He became intimate with her, and the Bodhisatta was conceived then and there. The king gave the woman his signet ring, with instructions that if the child was a boy, he should be brought to the court with the ring. When the Bodhisatta grew up his playmates nicknamed him “No-father.” Feeling ashamed, he asked his mother about it and, on hearing the truth, insisted on being taken to the king. When confronted with the child, the king was too shy to acknowledge his parentage, and the mother, having no witness, threw the child into the air with the prayer that he should remain there if her words were true. The boy, sitting cross-legged in the air, requested the king to adopt him, which request was accepted, his mother being made queen consort. On his father’s death he became king under the name of Kaṭṭhavāhana.

The story was told to Pasenadi on his refusal to recognise the claim to the throne of Viḍūḍabha, his son by Vāsabhakhattiyā (J.i.133 ff; iv.148; DhA.i.349).

Perhaps the story has some connection with that of Dusyanta and Sakuntalā, as given in the Mahābhārata and later amplified by Kālidāsa in his drama.

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