"Then mighty Indra,"--This story the Master, while residing at Jetavana, told about the temptation of a Brother by the wife of his unregenerate days. The subject-matter of the tale is related in full in the Indriya Birth. Now the Master asked the Brother, "Is it true, Brother, that you were rendered discontented?" "It is true, Reverend Sir." "By whom?" "By my wife of former days." "Brother," he said, "this woman wrought mischief for you: it was owing to her that you fell away from mystic meditation, and lay for three years in a lost and distracted condition, and on the recovery of your senses you uttered a great lamentation," and so saying he told him a story of the past.
"Once upon a time in the reign of Brahmadatta in Benares, the Bodhisattva was born of a Brahmin family in the kingdom of Kasi, and when of age he became proficient in all liberal arts, and adopting the ascetic life he lived on wild berries and roots in a forest home. Now a certain doe in the Brahmin's mingeing-place ate grass and drank water mingled with his semen, and was so much enamored of him that she became pregnant and henceforth ever resorted to the spot near the hermitage. The Great Being examining into the matter learned the facts of the case. By and bye the doe gave birth to a man child, and the Great Being watched over it with a father's affection. And his name was Isisinga. And when the lad reached years of discretion, he admitted him to holy orders, and when he himself grew an old man, he repaired with him to the Nari grove and thus admonished him, 'My dear boy, in this Himalaya country are women as fair as these flowers: they bring utter destruction on all that fall into their power: you must not come under their sway.' And shortly afterwards he became destined to birth in the Brahma world. But Isisinga, indulging in mystic meditation, made his dwelling in the Himalaya region, a grim ascetic, with all his senses mortified. So by the power of his virtue the abode of Sakka was shaken. Sakka, on reflection, discovered the cause and thinking, 'This fellow will bring me down from my position as Sakka, I will send a heavenly nymph to make a breach in his virtue,' and after examining the whole angel world, amongst twenty-five millions of handmaids, save and except the nymph Alambusa, he found no other that was equal to the task. So summoning her, he bade her bring about the destruction of the saint's virtue."
The Master, in explanation of this matter, uttered this stanza:
"Then mighty Indra, lord of lords, the god that Vatra slew,
"Sakka ordered Alambusa, saying, 'Go and draw nigh to Isisinga, and bringing him under your power destroy his virtue,' and he uttered these words:
"'Go, Temptress, ever dog his steps, for holy sage is he,
"On hearing this Alambusa repeated a couple of stanzas:
"'Why, king of gods, of all the nymphs regardst thou me alone,
"'In happy grove of Nandana is many a nymph divine,
"Then Sakka repeated three stanzas:
"'Thou speakest sooth; in happy grove of Nandana, I ween,
"'But none like thee, O peerless maid, with all a woman's wile
"'Then queen of women as thou art, go, lovely nymph, thy way
"On hearing this Alambusa repeated two stanzas:
"'I will not fail, O angel-king, to go at thy behest,
"'For many a one, poor fool, has gone (I shudder at the thought)
"This said, Alambusa, fair nymph, departed with all speed,
"'Into the grove for half a league with berries red so bright,
"'At break of day, ere yet the sun was scarce astir on high,
These stanzas owed their inspiration to Perfect Wisdom.
"Then the ascetic questioned her and said:
"'Who art thou, like to lightning flash, or bright as morning star,
"'Fragrant as golden sandal-wood, in brightness like the sun,
"'So soft and pure, with slender waist and firmly springing gait,
"'Thy thighs, like trunk of elephant, are finely tapering found,
"'With down like lotus filaments thy navel marked, I ween,
"'Twin milky breasts, like pumpkins halved, their swelling globes display,
"'Thy lips are red as is thy tongue, and, O auspicious sign,
"'Thy teeth brushed with a piece of wood, kept ever clean and bright,
"'Thy eyes are long and large of shape, a lovely sight to view,
"'Thy tresses smooth, not over long and bound in neatest coil,
"'Of all that live by merchandise, by herds or by the plough,
"'Amongst them all in this wide world thy peer I may not see,
"While the ascetic thus sang the praises of Alambusa, from her feet to the hair of her head, she remained silent, and from his long drawn out speech observing how disturbed was his state of mind she repeated this stanza:
"'Heaven bless thee, Kassapa, my friend, the time is past and gone
"So saying Alambusa thought, 'If I stand still, he will not come within reach of me; I will make as if I were running away,' and with all the cunning of a woman's wiles she shook the purpose of the ascetic, as she fled in the direction from which she had approached him."
The Master, to make the matter clear, spoke this stanza:
"This said, Alambusa, fair nymph, departed with all speed,
"Then the ascetic, on seeing her depart, cried, 'She is off;' and by a swift movement on his part he intercepted her as she was slowly making off and with his hand seized her by the hair of her head."
The Master, to make the matter clear, said:
"To check her flight, the holy man with motion swift as air
"Just where he stood the lovely maid embraced him in her arms,
"In thought she flew to Indra's throne in Nandana afar;
"With trappings spread and all adorned with manifold array:
"Three years passed o'er his head as though it were a moment's space,
"Green trees he saw on every side; an altar stood hard by,
"He looked around and weeping sore he shed a bitter tear;
"Dwelling within this forest lone, who can my tempter be?
"On hearing this Alambusa thought: 'Should I not tell him, he will curse me; verily, I will tell him,' and standing by him in a visible form she repeated this stanza:
"'Sent by king Sakka, here I stand
"On hearing her words he called to mind his father's admonition, and lamenting how he was utterly ruined by disobeying the words of his father he repeated four stanzas:
"'Thus would kind Kassapa, my sire,
"'Of woman's budding charms beware,
"'My wise old father's words, alas!
"'Accursed be the life of old,
"So he forsook sensual desire and entered upon mystic meditation. Then Alambusa, seeing his virtue as an ascetic and aware that he had attained to a state of ecstasy, became terrified and asked his forgiveness."
The Master, to make the matter clear, repeated two stanzas:
"Alambusa no sooner knew
"'O saint, all anger lay aside,
"Then he let her go, saying, 'I pardon thee, fair lady; go, as thou wilt.' And he repeated a stanza:
"'My blessing on the Thirty-three
"Saluting him she departed to the abode of the gods in that same golden car."
The Master, to make the matter clear, repeated three stanzas:
"Embracing then the sage's feet and circling to the right,
"And mounting on the golden car, with trappings rich overspread,
"Like blazing torch or lightning flash, she passed athwart the sky,
Receiving a boon from him she repeated the concluding stanza:
"If Sakka, lord of sprites, thou wouldst my heart's desire allow,
The Master here ended his lesson to that Brother and revealed the Truths and identified the Birth:--At the conclusion of the Truths that Brother was established in the Fruit of the First Path--"At that time Alambusa was the wife of his unregenerate days, Isisinga was the back-sliding Brother, and the great saint his father was myself."