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Mahāsāra Jātaka (No.92)

The Bodhisatta was once a minister of Brahmadatta, king of Bārāṇasī. One day the king went with his queens to the park and the latter took off their ornaments for bathing. A female monkey, watching her opportunity, stole a pearl necklace. On the loss being discovered, the king had every person and every place searched. A rustic, seeing the commotion, took to his heels and was chased and captured by the guards. When questioned, he confessed to having stolen the necklace, thinking that the best way of saving his life, and said he had given it to the Treasurer. The Treasurer said he had given it to the chaplain, the chaplain to the chief musician, the musician to the courtesan. As it was by this time late, the matter was put off until the next day, the alleged accomplices being imprisoned. The Bodhisatta, doubting their words, obtained the king’s leave to investigate the matter. He had the prisoners watched, and knew, from their reported conversations, that they were innocent. He then decided that it had been stolen by a monkey, and gave orders that a number of monkeys should be captured and turned loose again with strings of beads round their necks, wrists, and ankles. The monkey, who had stolen the necklace, on seeing the others with their beads, was filled with jealousy and produced the necklace. The guard frightened her, and so she dropped it, and the Bodhisatta was greatly praised for his wisdom.

The story was told in reference to Ānanda. Pasenadi’s wives wished for someone to teach them in the palace. Pasenadi went to the Buddha and from him heard the praises of Chattapāṇi. Later, he met him and asked him to teach in his harem. However, Chattapāṇi was unwilling, saying that it was the prerogative of the monks. Thereupon the king asked the Buddha to appoint someone, and the Buddha appointed Ānanda. One day Ānanda found all the women of the palace very dejected, and learnt that the jewel of the king’s turban had been lost and everyone was most distracted. Ānanda, therefore, went to the king and asked that each suspect should be given a wisp of straw on a lump of clay and asked to place it somewhere, the idea being that the thief would leave the jewel in one of these lumps. The ruse, however, did not succeed, and orders were then given that a water-pot be set in a retired corner of the courtyard behind a screen and that everyone should be asked to wash his hands. When all had washed, the pot was emptied and the jewel found inside it.

Ānanda is identified with the king of the Jātaka. J.i.381‑7.

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