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  • Vidūdabha

Son of Pasenadi and Vāsabhakhattiyā. On the birth of Vidūdabha, the king, glad at having a son, sent word to his own grandmother asking her to choose a name. The minister who delivered the message was deaf, and when the grandmother spoke of Vāsabhakhattiyā as being dear to the king, mistook "vallabha" for "Vidūdabha," and, thinking that this was an old family name, bestowed it on the prince. When the boy was quite young, Pasenadi conferred on him the rank of senāpati, thinking that this would please the Buddha. It was for the same reason he married Vāsabhakhattiyā; both in the Piyajātika Sutta (M.ii.110) and the Kannakatthala Suttas (M.ii.127) Vidūdabha is spoken of as senāpati.

When Vidūdabha was seven years old, he wished to visit his maternal grandparents, hoping to be given presents, like his companions by theirs, but Vāsabhakhattiyā persuaded him against this, telling him that they lived too far away. But he continued to express this desire, and when he reached the age of sixteen she consented to his going. Thereupon, accompanied by a large retinue, he set out for Kapilavatthu. The Sākiyans sent all the younger princes away, there being thus none to pay obeisance to him in answer to his salute, the remaining ones being older than he. He was shown every hospitality and stayed for several days. On the day of his departure, one of his retinue overheard a contemptuous remark passed by a slave woman who was washing, with milk and water, the seat on which Vidūdabha had sat. This was reported to him, and, having discovered the deceit which had been practiced on his father, he vowed vengeance on the Sākiyans. Pasenadi cut off all honours from Vāsabhakhattiyā and her son, but restored them later, at the Buddha's suggestion.

After Pasenadi’s death, which was brought about by the treachery of Dīghakārāyana in making Vidūdabha king (for details see Pasenadi), Vidūdabha remembered his oath, and set out with a large army for Kapilavatthu. The Buddha, aware of this, stood under a tree, with scanty shade, just within the boundaries of the Sākiyan kingdom. On the boundary was a banyan which gave deep shade. Vidūdabha, seeing the Buddha, asked him to sit under the banyan. "Be not worried," said the Buddha, "the shade of my kinsmen keeps me cool.” Vidūdabha understood and returned home with his army. This exposure to the sun gave the Buddha a headache which lasted through out his life (UdA.265; Ap.i.300).

Three times he marched against the Sākiyans and three times he saw the Buddha under the same tree and turned back. The fourth time the Buddha knew that the fate of the Sākiyans could not be averted and remained away. In a previous existence they had conspired and thrown poison into a river.

The Sākiyans went armed into the battle, but not wishing to kill, they shot their arrows into Vidūdabha's ranks without killing anyone. On this being brought to Vidūdabha's notice, he gave orders that all the Sākiyans, with the exception of the followers of the Sākiyan Mahānāma, should be slain. The Sākiyans stood their ground, some with blades of grass and some with reeds. These were spared, and came to be known as Tinasākyā and Nalasākiyā respectively.*

The others were all killed, even down to the infants. Mahānāma was taken prisoner and went back with Vidūdabha, who wished him to share his meal. But Mahānāma said he wished to bathe, and plunged into a lake with the idea of dying rather than eating with a slave woman's child. The Nāgas of the lake, however, saved him and took him to the Nāga world. That same night Vidūdabha pitched his camp on the dry bed of the Aciravatī. Some of his men lay on the banks, others on the river bed. Some of those who lay on the river bed were not guilty of sin in their past lives, while some who slept on the bank were. Ants appeared on the ground where the sinless ones lay, and they changed their sleeping places. During the night there was a sudden flood, and Vidūdabha and those of his retinue who slept in the river bed were washed into the sea. This account is taken from DhA.i.346 9, 357 61; but see also J. i.133 and iv.146f., 151f.

* According to Chinese records, Vidūdabha took five hundred Sākiyan maidens into his harem, but they refused to submit to him and abused him and his family. He ordered them to be killed, their hands and feet to be cut off, and their bodies thrown into a ditch. The Buddha sent a monk to preach to them, and they were reborn after death in heaven. Sakra collected their bones and burnt them (Beal., op. cit.ii.11f.).

The eleventh Pallava of the Avadānakalpalatā has a similar story. Vidūdabha killed seventy seven thousand Sākiyans and stole eighty thousand boys and girls. The girls were rude to him, and he ordered their death.


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