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Mūgapakkha Jātaka (No.538)

Also called Temiya Jātaka. Candādevī, wife of the king of Kāsi, had, to her great grief, no son. Sakka’s throne was heated by her piety, and he persuaded the Bodhisatta, then in Tāvatiṃsa, to be born as her son. The Bodhisatta reluctantly agreed. Great were the rejoicings over his birth. He was called Temiya because on the day of his birth there was a great shower throughout the kingdom and he was born wet. When he was one month old, he was brought to the king, and, as he lay in his lap, he heard grievous sentences passed on some robbers brought before the king. Later, as he lay in bed, Temiya recollected his past births and remembered how he had once reigned for twenty years as king of Bārāṇasī, and, as a result, had suffered in Ussada hell (niraya) for twenty thousand years. Anguish seized him at the thought of having to be king once more, but the goddess of his parasol, who had once been his mother, consoled him by advising him to pretend to be dumb and incapable of any action. He took this advice, and for sixteen years the king and queen, in consultation with the ministers and others, tried every conceivable means of breaking his resolve, knowing him to be normal in body. However, all their attempts failed, and at last he was put in a chariot and sent with the royal charioteer, Sunanda, to the charnel ground, where he was to be clubbed to death and buried. At the queen’s urgent request, however, Temiya was appointed to rule over Kāsi for one week before being put to death, but the enjoyment of royal power did not weaken his resolve. The charioteer, under the influence of Sakka, took Temiya to what he considered to be the charnel-ground and there, while Sunanda was digging the grave, Temiya stole up behind him and confided to him his purpose and his resolve to lead the ascetic life. Sunanda was so impressed by Temiya’s words that he immediately wished to become an ascetic himself, but Temiya wanted him to inform his parents of what had happened. When the king and queen heard Sunanda’s news, they went with all their retinue to Temiya’s hermitage and there, after hearing Temiya teach, they all became ascetics. The inhabitants of the three kingdoms adjacent to Bārāṇasī followed their example, and great was the number of ascetics. Sakka and Vissakamma provided shelter for them. The crowds who thus flocked together were called the “Mūgapakkha samāgama.” With the death of Malaya Mahādeva Thera (q.v.) came the end of those who participated in this great collection of ascetics.

Temiya’s parents are identified with the parents of the Buddha, Sunanda with Sāriputta and the goddess of the parasol with Uppalavaṇṇā. The story was told in reference to the Buddha’s Renunciation (J.vi.1‑30; the story of Temiya is also given in Temiyacariyā in Cyp.iii.6). It is often referred to (e.g., BuA.51) as giving an example of the Bodhisatta’s great determination. The Dhammika Sutta (q.v.) mentions Mūgapakkha in a list of teachers of old.

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