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Jataka Stories - Ajanta Caves

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THE TEMPTATION OF BUDDHA BY MARA, CAVE 1
The Bodhisattva sat under the Bodhi tree. He left that the moment of Enlightenment was approaching. At this, Mara, the evil spirit, fearing that the Bodhisattva would gain light and offer the path of salvation to others, decided to approach him. He tried to persuade him to abandon his search. Then he tempted him with the prize of power. The Bodhisattva shook his head. Then he asked his daughters to dance before him, and lure the Bodhisattva to the life of pleasure. But the bodhisattva was not to be turned from his path of righteousness. Then Mara summoned his Demons and made an assault on Gautama and tried to dislodge him from his seat. The Bodhisattva called upon the earth to bear witness to his devotion in all his previous lives. The earth goddess responded to his appeal. Mara fled defeated. During the next night, Gautama rose from the state of being a Bodhisattva to be the Buddha, the enlightened One, who had achieved total understanding of everything.

Descent of the Buddha from the Tu shita heaven, cave 7:
Before becoming the Buddha, the bodhisattva was born as Spetaketu, a god of Tushita heaven. The Tushita heaven was the abode of the Gods, who were satisfied and content.
In this paradise, Spetaketu prepared for the four examinations he would have to go through before he could become the Buddha. These examinations were to take place at a certain time, in the continent, country and family, in which he would be born for the last time. At last he that the propitious time had come and that he would be borne in the continent of Jambu-India, in the country of magadha, Bihar to maya, queen of suddhodhana, the head of the sakya clan.

SUTASAMA JATAKA CAVE 16 AND 17
In a previous incarnation, the bodhisattva came to life as the child of the king of indapatta. His name was Sutasama. A famous teacher of a taxilla taught the prince all the parts and sciences. And, in time, he succeeded to the throne of his father.
One day when Sutasama was coming out of a lotus pond after his bath, he was seized by a man-eating robber and carried away. Sutasama persuaded the cannibal, to let him go and pray and offerings of flowers to the enlightened One and he promised to come back afterwards.
The man-eating robber was surprised that sutasama returned the next morning. The robber, who had been a fellow student of the Bodhisattva at taxilla and then king of benares till he turned into a cannibal was converted by the preaching of the bodhisattva. And thus he was restored to his kingdom of benares.

SHADA-DANTA JATAKA, CAVE17
Once upon a time, the bodhisattva was born as the son of the chief elephant of a big herd of eight thousands in Himalayas. He lived near the lake shaddanta, in a golden cave, in the midst of white lilies, and blue, white red lotuses, surrounded by a forest of a thick vegatation. This elephant was 82 cubits high and 120 cubits long. He had trunk like a silver rope. He had two queens. By chance he offended one of them. She prayed that she might be born as beautiful princess. Then she hoped to tell her husband, the king, to send a hunter with poisoned arrow, to slay the elephant, so that he tusks, which gave forth six color rays, to bring to her. She under took a long fast and thus died.
And lo! She was reborn and became queen of a benaras. And now she carried out her wicked plans. A hunter was sent to kill a royal elephant with a poisoned arrow. He traveled seven years and succeeded in his aim.
But he was unable to cut off the tusks. The elephant himself pulled out his tusks and gave them to the hunter, so that his meritorious act may causes him to attain another birth as a bodhisattva. When the tusks were brought to the queen, she held them in her lap. She then remembered her former life and knew that the tusks belonged to her lord. She was broken hearted and died that very day. The six rays of the tusks are supposed to indicate light.

VISVANTARA JATAKA, CAVE 17
Sanjay, son of king Sibi, had a queen called Pusati. He had a son by her called Visvantara. The fortune-tellers had foretold that he would be a devotee, who would give away every thing in aims. When he was child, ha said to his mother: "I wish to make some gift. Is there anything I can give away?" She gave him a purse of money, which he distributed to beggars. When he was eight years old, he wished to give away his life also. But his mother prevented him.
As he grew up, he gave all that he got as a prince, in alms, even his magic elephant and his jewels. The people were with Visvantara for giving a costly elephant away. His father tried to save his life by banishing him from the kingdom. He was sent with his wife, princess madari and his children.
On the away, he gave away the horses of the chariot in which his wife and boy and girl were traveling, to four Brahmins. His children were given away to a bramhin called Jujeka, who was cruel to them, around them hand and feet and them.
The Brahmins left them there, while he himself climbed on a tree, for fear of the wild beasts. The God took pity on the on the children of visvantara. Disguised as their father and mother, he came every night and tended and fed them. But he put them in chains in the morning. The Brahmin took them to their grandfather's court, where they were recognized. The Brahmin was paid a ransom. The great God, Sakara, feeling that visvantara would give away even his wife, decided to ask for her himself, to prevent her being given away. At the end, Visvantara and his wife were summoned by the king Sanjay and queen Pusati and restored to their children and given royal honors.

SHAMA JATAKA, CAVE 17
Once upon a time, the bodhisattva was born as the son of a hunter and his wife. He was named Subanna Shyama. The old couple had renounced life. But, for some sins committed their previous births, they both lost their eyes. So they came dependent on their son, Shyama. The served the helpless parents with great devotion. One day, when Shyama went to fetch water from the river, the king of banaras mistook him for a deer and shot him with a poisoned arrow. The bodhisattva, Shyama was full of sorrow. He did not know who was look after his father and mother. The king was deeply affected by his cries. A Goddess came and not only restore life to Shyama, but gave the eyesight back to his blind parents.

SIMHALA AVADANA, CAVE 17
This scene was at one time supposed to narrate the leading of king Vijaya in Ceylon. Anyhow the following episode are shown:
The shipwreck;
The life of pleasure of simhala with the
Yakshinis or tree spirits;
The escape through the air on the back of the big white horse, valaha
The pursuit by his wife, the rakshi;
The entrance of the latter in to the palace of
The king of simha kilpa;
The sad end of the latter and of his courte;
The courage of simhala in winning the throne;
And, last of all the expedition which he
Under took against the inhabitants of the island
Where his boat had been wrecked.

QUEEN MAYA'S DREAM
Queen Maya was forewarned, in a marvelous dream, about the birth to her of a great son. She saw that a white six-tusked elephant entered her right side. She told her husband about the dream. The astrologers were consulted. One of them told her, that she would have a son, bearing the 32 marks of a great man. This prince would become a universal king, if he stayed at home. But if he shaved off his hair and beard and left home in an orange-colored robe, he would become the perfectly enlightened Buddha.


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