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Kusa

The Bodhisatta, son of Okkāka, king of Kusāvatī and of his queen Sīlavatī. Okkāka has no heir, in spite of performing various rites. However, at length, by the favour of Sakka, Sīlavatī miraculously gives birth to two sons. The elder, though ill-favoured, is supernaturally wise and is called Kusa. The younger, very handsome, is called Jayampati. Kusa consents to marry only on condition that a princess can be obtained exactly like an image which he himself has fashioned. Pabhāvatī, daughter of King Madda of Sāgala, is found to fulfil this condition, and is married to Kusa. The bride is not to look upon her husband’s face until she has conceived, but Kusa plays various pranks upon her and she accidentally discovers how ugly he is. She leaves him immediately and returns to her father’s court. Kusa follows her there, and under a variety of menial disguises, including that of a cook, tries, but in vain, to win her affection. At length Sakka intervenes. He sends letters, purporting to come from King Madda, to seven kings, offering Pabhāvatī to each of them. They arrive in Sāgala simultaneously and threaten to destroy the city. Madda decides to cut Pabhāvatī into seven pieces, and she is only saved from immediate death by the despised husband. At his appearance the kings flee, for wherever he looks the earth trembles. Kusa returns with his wife to Kusāvatī and they live there happily.

Pleased at Kusa’s victory, Sakka gives him a jewel called the Verocanamaṇi. It was octagonal, and was evidently handed down in the succession of kings, for we are told that one of the tests, set by Videha, king of Mithilā, to discover the proficiency of Mahosadha, was for him to break the old thread in this gem, remove it, and insert a new one. (J.vi.340; according to SA.i.115 and DA.iii.266, the jewel was also in the possession of Pasenadi; but see the Mahāsāra Jātaka, where no mention is made of Kusa).

Reference is made elsewhere (e.g., MT.552) to a fan (tālavanta) possessed by Kusa, in which could be seen the forms of all things in the world. He also possessed the lute (Kokanada-vīṇā) (q.v.) given by Sakka to Sīlavatī.

Kusa is called Sīhassara, and his shout, when he appeared before the seven kings, announcing his name, was one of the four shouts heard throughout Jambudīpa (SNA.i.223; SA.i.248).

The Dīpavaṃsa (iii.40) speaks of Kusa and Mahākusa, both descended from Mahāsammata.

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