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     The Story of Kushinagar

Modern Kushinagar also known as Kusinara which was earlier known as Kusaavatii is a place of special impression in the history of the Buddhism. This was because Sakyamuni Gotama Buddha had his Parinibbana over there. Besides, the place itself has an interesting story for its organization to please a honest historian having some appreciation for the rich Pali tradition of ancient India. In fact, the organization of Kusinara has its origin in the traditions of the king Kusa.

Once, there was a king Okkaka who ruled the kingdom of the Mallas. He was a popular king but had no son but the fact that he had sixteen thousand queens. When blamed several times by the citizens of his kingdom for not having an heir he sent all his queens to public, with the exception of Silavati, to bear a son for him. These queens charmed the people for seven days, yet no one could conceive. Again, the honorable citizens blamed him for not having an heir; and claimed that he should send Silavati, too, to participate in such celebrations to bear him a son. The queen consort was a loyal and virtuous woman. So, on the seventh day the queen was ornamented with best jewels and dress and was carried from the royal palace to the streets.

When the city was rushed to such celebrations, Sakka, the lord of the devas felt his throne being heated. Knowing the cause, he observed that Silavati, who was not meant to be treated in an improper way deserved his interference as she was a pure and righteous lady. Sakka then decided to help her to protect her formality. So, he descended the earth in the form of an old Brahmin and pushed his way to reach the front of the crowd where Silavati was standing to please the select citizens to bear a son for the king. Many nobles disliked the Brahmin’s appearance before them. But before they could speak or act to keep him off, he lifted the queen of the superior beauty; and flew in the air. Angry and sickened, the queen, too, made a strong objection because in her view the old man was not fit to help her conceive a baby.

Nevertheless, Sakka took her to a house, which he built by his own magical power. There, he rest her on the heap of sticks and stroked her gently, which made her faint immediately. When she opened her eyes, after seven days, she found herself on a soft and stylish couch in the kingdom of Tavatimsa; and not on those dusty heaps of sticks. When looked around she found Sakka seated on his throne on the foot of a coral tree with all his magnificence. Now, she knew the real identity of the old brahmin, who was none other than the lord of the celestial beings, Sakka. She stood up and praised him. Sakka then said, “I grant you a boon. Ask whatever you wish to have”. She then spoke out, “Lord ! I would like to have a son”. Sakka said, “I grant you two sons: one ugly with great wisdom; and the other handsome but a fool. Choose, which one you would like to have first”. She chose to have the baby with great wisdom first.

Sakka presented her a piece of Kusa grass, a heavenly robe, a sandal wood, a flower of the coral tree and a Kokanada lute. He then transported her to the king’s hall and laid her down on the same couch where the king was lying and touched her with his right thumb. She instantly knew that she had just conceived. She woke up the king and told her the whole story. First, the king refused to believe her but when he saw those heavenly presents he had to trust her. Soon a celebration for the unborn king began. After ten months of Silavati’s beginning the baby was born and was called Kusa. Furthermore, when the baby could walk and run on his own, his younger brother, too, was born. The second baby was given the name Jayampati.

By the age of sixteen the wise Kusa attained ability in all the broadminded arts without any aid. The king during that time decided to crown him in his life-time along with his queen consort. This meant he was to get married. So, his mother Silavati sent the prince a message to choose a bride for himself. Wise Kusa was aware of his ugliness. He also knew that no woman was likely to love or live with him if she happened to see his ugliness. So, he rejected the offer. After a few months the queen again sent the same message for his marriage and again he refused to do so. When the queen sent the same message for the third time he thought that a flat refusal would not be proper. So, he made a golden image of a gorgeous nymph and told the messenger that he was ready for the marriage on the condition that they had to find the woman of such beauty.

Soon the king’s messengers were sent all over the Indian sub-continent in search of a woman, who look similar to the image.

Madda, who was the king of Sagal, had eight princesses. Each had the outshine beauty similar with the heavenly nymphs. The eldest among them was Pabhavati, whose body radiated the golden tone of the rising sun. She had a personal assistant, who was an old bend-backed woman.

One day, when the Malla soldiers were moving about the city of Sagala, they found a pond and placed the image on its bank. That day the bend-backed also came to the pond after passing on the king’s message to Pabhavati that she had to stay in the palace. When she saw the image of Pabhavati standing there, she thought that the princess had not obeyed her father and had sneaked outside. So, she slapped the face of the image, which in turn got damaged.

When the soldiers demanded an explanation for her action to slap the image, she told them that the image look like her mistress. The soldiers then quickly move toward the Sagala king and describe him of their mission. The king of Sagala was very happy to receive the proposal of Kusa’s marriage with Pabhavati. Soon, they sent messengers to the Malla king to convey the success of the mission.

Before the marriage was confirmed, Silavati, expected the most growing problem after the marriage. She knew that no bride was likely to live with her ugly son, Kusa. So, she asked the bride not to see her husband until she conceived to follow their family custom. Thus, the two were married and at the same time Kusa was crowned as the king.

One day, Kusa pronounce his desire to the queen mother to have a peep of his consort in a broad day-light. Silavati, then organized Pabhavati’s visit to the elephant stall, where the king was hiding. When the two royal ladies were walking, the king, who was then dressed like a mahout, playfully, throw the elephant dung on Pabhavati’s back. Annoyed, at the ill-behavior of the mahout, Pabhavati suggested the death-punishment on him but with the interference of her mother-in-law she was stopped from doing so.

Dazzled by her beauty, Kusa’s desire to see her became more passionate. Again, the queen mother organized a similar set up in the royal stable. Having seeing the gracious look of Pabhavati, the king playfully, this time, threw the horse dung on her back. Again the queen was furious and again was she interfered by her mother-in-law.

One day, Pabhavati, too, had a strong wish to see the king. So, she requested the queen mother to show her a peep of the king. Silavati then organized a royal parade where the king was seated behind his handsome younger brother Jayampati on a royal elephant. When Pabhavati was looking at the parade through the palace window, Kusa caught hold of her peep. Again, he playfully made some passionate wigwag at her to make her fret and fume. But soon it occurred to her that the person was the king as no one could act so boldly. So, to discover the truth, she sent the bend backed maid to inspect the problem. When Kusa saw the maid approaching close to the parade he perceive something fishy. So, he called her and ordered her not to expose his identity to her mistress. Upon return, the maid lied to Pabhavati. Thus, Pabhavati believed that she was married to Jayampati, the handsomest among all kings; and was proud of her luck.

One day, Kusa again asked his mother to show him his bride. So, the queen mother organized her visit to the royal lotus pond, where Kusa lay chin-deep behind a large lotus flower. When Pabhavati saw the laughing lotus flowers in the dazzling pond she drop all her clothes besides and jumped into the pond. Soon she swam to the large lotus behind which the king was hiding. As she looked overpowering with her excited and splashing beauty, the latter could not control himself longer and caught her by hand. He then whispered, “I am king Kusa, your husband”. The queen thought that she was caught by a goblin and fainted. The king then let her go.

Pabhavati was not a fool. When she get back consciousness and remind the words of Kusa in the pond, she could easily compare all the events ever since her first encounter with Kusa in the elephant stall; the stable; the royal procession; and finally in the lotus pond. Now, she knew the identity of the ugly man, who she met several times, and who was none other than her husband. She was terribly shocked. She felt entice and cheated. She was married to a man who looked most hideous. Now, she discovered why was she banned to see the ugly man in the day-light. She wept but soon she thought that because she was young and pretty; and also a princess why not she should find a better suitor for herself. So, she soon organized a trip to her father’s kingdom and decided never to return back to the Kusa's kingdom.

But Kusa followed her and finally won her back by his wisdom and ability.




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