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Mahālatāpasādhana (°pilandhana)

A very costly ornament of gold. In the time of the Buddha it was possessed only by three persons: Bandhula’s wife, Mallikā, Visākhā, and Devadāniyacora (DA.ii.599; at DhA.i.412 the daughter of the treasurer of Bārāṇasī is substituted for Devadāniya). Visākhā once left it behind in the monastery, where she had gone to hear the Buddha teach, and when she sent her slave girl for it Ānanda had already put it away. She, thereupon, refused to take it back and had it sold. It was worth ninety million, the workmanship being worth one hundred thousand. No one was found able to buy it, so Visākhā herself paid the price for it, and, with the proceeds, erected the Migāramātupāsāda (DhA.i.411 ff). Mallikā, after the death of her husband, refused to wear her jewels, and, when the Buddha’s body was being taken for cremation, she washed her ornament in scented water and placed it on the Buddha’s bier with the following resolve: ” May I, in future births, have a body that shall need no ornaments, but which shall appear as though it always bore them (DA.ii.597).

The making of Visākhā’s ornament took four months, with five hundred goldsmiths working day and night. In its construction were used four pint pots (nāḷi) of diamonds, eleven of pearls, twenty-two of coral, thirty-three of rubies, one thousand troy ounces¹ (nikkha) of ruddy gold, and sufficient silver. The thread work was entirely of silver, the parure was fastened to the head and extended to the feet. In various places, seals of gold and dies of silver were attached to hold it in position. In the fabric itself was a peacock with five hundred feathers of gold in either wing, a coral beak, jewels for the eyes, the neck feathers and the tail. As the wearer walked the feathers moved, producing the sound of music. Only a woman possessed of the strength of five elephants could wear it. DbA.i.393 ff. MA.i.471.

¹ There is no reliable way to know exactly what these ancient measures translate to in modern units (ed.)

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